Ponaganset wrestlers recognized with awards, nominations

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GLOCESTER – Wrestlers competing with the Ponaganset High School program continue to dominate the sport, with current and past athletes recognized in recent weeks across the region and beyond.

Last year, the Ponaganset team was the first from New England to win the Eastern States Classical, and the first from Rhode Island to earn a top-50 national ranking from MatScouts.

This year in February, eight wrestlers won 2024 state titles in their respective weight classes at the RIIL Championships, and the team broke records for points scored, wrestlers in the finals, and first-place finishes. It was the Chieftains third title in the past seven years. The team went on to dominated the regional meet at the Providence Career & Technical Academy, with seven wrestlers in the finals and four ultimately named regional champions: David Perez, Jared Hood, and Joseph Joyce and Cole Lemovitz.

At the National High School Coaches Association National Championships last month in Virginia Beach, two Ponaganset wrestlers placed in the top eight of their weight classes, Carnell Davis and Lemovitz.

And the program, led this year by coach Steve Mineo, continues to be recognized for producing champion athletes. Mineo replaced former head coach Mike Joyce, who served as assistant coach until he was named the district’s athletic director last year.

PHS Class of 2023 graduate Nick Baccala was recently named Rookie of the Year by the Western New England Wrestling Coaches in recognition of his contributions to the college’s program.

Last weekend in Las Vegas Lemovitz placed at the US Open Wrestling Championships. Lemovitz, a freshman, was also among those selected for the 2024 Providence Journal All State Team.

Only 14 wrestlers from across the state were named to the first team, with more than half hailing from Ponaganset including freshman Apollo Bellini, juniors Preston Marchesseault, Jared Hood and Michael DiOrio, senior captain Andrew Reall and sophomores David Perez and Joseph Joyce.

The athletes will be player of the year nominees for boys wrestling at the All-State Rhode Island High School Sports Awards, with winners to be announced during the live show on Thursday, June 27, at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

Two PHS wrestlers also secured a spot on the Providence Journal All State second team, sophomore Colby Vital and freshman Robert Douangmala.

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