Warde wrestling reloading for another run
The Fairfield Warde wrestling team doesn't like the word "re-build."
The way the Mustangs run their program, you can't really blame them. Warde has quickly become one of the best wrestling teams on a year-in, year-out basis, and it has everything to do with the PAL wrestling program and the climate set by head coach Jason Shaughnessy.
"You don't want to re-build, you want to re-load," Shaughnessy said. "We have to step forward with different kids."
The Mustangs will be loaded again this year, as Warde opens the season with 60 varsity wrestlers. Warde will rely on senior captain James Heinzman at 182-points, who finished fourth at the Class L meet a year ago.
Heinzman is joined by heavyweight Mike Money, 215-pounder David Wolff and Joe Marx at 195 who all play for the Warde football team. Shaughnessy and the football team have a strong rapport and both teams benefit. Shaughnessy said about half his team is made up of football players.
"We get big, strong kids who play football to fill the upper weights," he said. "We have a good relationship with the football team and we scratch each other's back."
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Warde's strong junior class includes 132-pounder Pharoh Eaton, who has already won 80 matches and placed at the State Open meet twice in his varsity career. Tom Anania at 160 was all-state as a freshman, and Danny Almeida at 126 placed at FCIACs a year ago.
Sophomores Colin Ventura and Dylan Bender will round out the club's starters. Expect more names to enter the mix too, since Warde has strength in numbers.
"We have kids as backups who would be starters on any other team in the state," Shaughenessy said. "But if a starter is sick or injured, we have a quality backup to fill his spot."
However, everywhere Warde turns, a good program lurks. In the FCIAC it is Danbury, who has won the league 24 of 25 years. In Class L, it is New Milford and Daniel Hand, who finished 1-2 at the state meet a year ago.
But Warde knows it can compete, it just depends on if the Mustangs can rise to the occasion.
"We aspire to win FCIACs and states," Shaughenessy said. "Whether we achieve that depends on how well we perform."