The Johnston Youth Wrestling organization again pinned down several successes Sunday inside the Edward L. DiSimone Gymnasium.
For starters, the well-organized JYW rolled out the mats that covered most areas of the Robert A. Smith Memorial Basketball Court for this state’s upstart grapplers ages 6 to 14 and hosted its annual invitational tournament that drew 27 teams and rave reviews from coaches and parents who came to Cherry Hill from all parts of the state.
Scoring-wise, the JYW landed two first-place finishes from Nicholas Baccala and Owen Polofsky, while four members of the John Antonucci and Roland Martino-coached Johnston wrestler unit nailed down impressive runner-up spots.
Baccala, who will wrestle for the state youth championship this Sunday during the Open State Tournament at Coventry High School’s C. Arthur Flori Gymnasium, took first place in the 124-130-pound Middle School class.
Polofsky also took home a first-place finish in the Intermediate Division for youth wrestlers weighing 81-87 pounds.
The four Johnston grapplers who won second-place honors in their respective weight classes were: Dylan Martins, Middle School, 92-96 pounds; Preston Marchesseault, Novice, 118-128 pounds; Robert Dalessio, Novice, 106-114 pounds; and Gavin Polofsky, Bantams, 56-57 pounds.
Johnston also had strong performances from Xavier Hopper, who took third in the Intermediate Class at 72-75 pounds, as well as Sean Lavoie, who wrestled to a third-place finish in the Intermediate class at 73-78 pounds.
Logan Martins and Joseph Breit also scored valuable team points for the JYW.
Perhaps the most impressive performances Sunday came from the JYW super support staff headed by President Lisa Baccala – and her husband Jay Baccala of Baccala Concrete fame – who also serves as a long-time coach for the now two decade old Johnston youth program.
Proud parents, even some former JYW wrestlers who are now members of Johnston High School’s ever-improving wrestling program, played different roles in making Sunday’s USA Wrestling-sanctioned meet an overwhelming success.
Brad Testa, who wrestles for the JHS Panthers varsity at 145 pounds, and James Baccala – who sustained a season-ending victory – were among the most valuable supporters Sunday and served as timers and scorers.
“This was a total JYW team effort,” Lisa Baccala noted while scooting from an additional mat that was set up inside the JHS cafeteria to watch her son Nicholas post a victory. “We had fathers, mothers and other dedicated volunteers who helped out today.”
As the JYW president went on: “We focus on developing strong basic fundamentals and structure in the sport of wrestling for boys and girls (ages 6-14) while also developing character, discipline and self-confidence.”
Moreover, as Baccala offered while watching several girls from the Beat the Streets Wrestling Club in Providence take the mat: “We have some of the most dedicated coaches around. Coach John (Antonucci) and Coach Roland (Martino) have been coaching for many years and now we have Brett Polofsky, Peter Marchesseault, Erik Martins and Jay Baccala.
To date, Johnston doesn’t have any girls on the roster, however, as Lisa Baccala explained: “Our motto is Pride, Perseverance and Honor and our program is open to boys and girls ages 6 to 14. Champions are Born, not created. Let us help you grow in the Champion you were Born to be.”
Baccala said the JYW began the 2017-18 season with registration back in October and practices started in early November. Since then, many Johnston kids have competed in various age and weight categories against youngsters from the 27 youth teams around the state that were in Johnston for Sunday’s meet.
Anyone who’d like further information concerning any phase of the JYW program should call (401) 952-9509 or contact the club via email at JohnstonYouthWrestling@gmail.com.