KP Wrestlers Gearing up for Sectional Tournament

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
February, 2019
Article Body: 

If early-season tourney results and dual-meet records are meaningful, then the King Philip wrestling team should have an enjoyable weekend when the Division 2 Central Sectional Tournament concludes on Feb. 9 at Marlboro.
The Warriors, whose dual-meet record was 11-4 at Local Town Pages deadline, had success in three tournaments in December, finishing second in the Milford and Applin tourneys and sixth at the Framingham invitational that featured 24 squads.
John Adams, who’s been KP’s wrestling coach for five years, is cautiously optimistic about where the Warriors will finish at the Sectional. “I feel that we’re on a track to achieve a peak performance,’’ he said. “Our expectations are high.’’
KP’s contingent numbers 29 competitors who comprise the varsity and jayvee teams. The group, which strives diligently to improve its scores, has a plethora of strengths that likely will surface at the Sectional where about 13 squads will battle for the crown. Individuals who place in the top four will advance to the state tourney.
“We’ve got experience,’’ Adams said. “There are multiple wrestlers with strong credentials. We’ve got competitors who are strong, well-conditioned, and technically sound. And, the tradition and culture of our program is solid and respected.’’
KP’s trio of captains is a plus and as Adams says: “They lead by example, they’ve got ability and they exude positive energy.’’ The captains include seniors Mohammad Lotfi (145), Luke Fitch (182), and junior Shawn Conniff (195).
“Mohammad was the champion at Milford and was unbeaten at the Applin and Framingham tourneys,’’ Adams said. “He’s technically sound and is confident and passionate about the sport. Luke was a champion at Milford, unbeaten at Applin and fifth at Framingham. He’s tough, resilient, athletic and has strong intestinal fortitude. Shawn has been unbeaten all year. He’s multi-talented, very committed and very accomplished.’’
Two seniors who’ve been key assets are Connor Harrington at 106 pounds and Tim Shaffer at 160. “Connor is a four-year veteran who has great character and who improves daily,’’ Adams said. “Tim is solid, dependable and a fine leader.’’
A trio of sophomores who’ll be counted on include Noah Riedel (132), Sean O’Brien (170) and Yousef Lotfi (heavyweight). “Noah perseveres and has high expectations,’’ Adams noted. “He’s evolving into a quality wrestler. Sean has strength and a commanding presence. He’s a student of the sport. Yousef uses his size and strength to his advantage, enabling him to dictate a tempo where he’s in control of his position.’’
Four freshmen who’ve been labeled “promising’’ by Adams include Mike Gorman (113), Sam Debaggis (120), Ryan Dowden (126) and Will Conniff (152). The 220-pound category was still being contested.
“Mike came to our program from a background in judo,’’ Adams said. “He’s a high level competitor who’s smoothly transitioned to wrestling. Sam is scrappy and he learns technique quickly. Ryan was injured early in the season but he’s in the lineup now and showing lots of maturity. His work ethic is solid and his potential is high. Will is an accomplished youth league wrestler with a lot of experience at that level. He’s capable of pinning any individual.
Adams has built KP’s mat program in a disciplined way by selecting competitors who possess attributes he admires. “I want kids who are confident,’’ he emphasized. “And, I want boys who exceed their limitations, who are coachable and who have a strong work ethic.’’
Once Adaams’ roster is set, KP wrestlers then focus on three words that help to elevate the Warriors’ program. “Our motto is respect, pride and victory,’’ he said.
KP’s wrestling contingent has good team chemistry and it’s balanced. As Adams says: “The seniors have top-notch credentials, the sophomores and juniors are capable and the freshmen are promising.’’
That mix could take the Warriors on a lengthy ride — a journey that realistically could bring some trophies and plaques to the tri-town area of Norfolk, Wrentham and Plainville.