The Boys & Girls Club and Family Center Gladiators (L-R) Maliki
Matthews, Tony Marino, Trent Thompson (front) Noah Cruz, Michael Barrett, and
The Bristol Gladiator Youth Wrestling Team concluded their 22nd season in March with the crowning of six State Champions including Maliki Matthew a 2nd grader, won the Bantam State Championship in the 89 lb weight class; Trent Thompson 47-lbs; Dathan Hickey 76-lbs; Mike Barrett 103-lbs; and Anthony Marino 130-lbs were all State Champions in the Intermediate Division.
Noah Cruz a 6th grader, won the Novice State Championship in the 145 lb weight class. This was Noah’s 4th Championship in the last 5 years.
Other Gladiators placing in this years State Championships are:2nd Place - Jacob Salinas (Bantam Division), Ryan
Rigney and Harry Pacheco (Middle School Division); 3rd Place - Galen
Hickey, Jacob Aldi and Frank Miano (Bantam Division); Trinidad
Gonzalez and Damian Rabis (Intermediate Division); 4th
Place- Dylan Piazza (Mighty Mite Division); and Mason Lishness
“The Gladiator program had a great season, with almost half of our 55 man rooster consisting of first year wrestlers,” stated Phil Soucy. Throughout our season we had many individual champions and place winners at various tournaments throughout the state.”
“We wish continued success to our 8th Graders who will be moving on, with many hoping to compete for local high schools next season,” continued Soucy. The 8th graders include Tim Harrison, Lukas Steinmark, Trevor Hooth, Jake Naparstek, Joe Adams, Dovydas Simanskis, and Captains James Pavelchak, Jacob Pelletier, Harry Pacheco and Ryan Rigney.”
This year marked the 22nd season of youth wrestling at the Boys & Girls Club and Family Center of Bristol. The program was started in 1988 by a group of local high school coaches who saw a need for a developmental program. In 1999, the program changed its name to the Gladiators and saw a growth in membership that contributed to the team becoming a Connecticut “Top 5 Youth Team” for many consecutive years.
“Many of the most successful local wrestlers from Bristol and its surrounding towns were members of this program,” stated Bryant Lishness, Bristol Eastern High School wrestling coach. “Of special note this year is the accomplishment of BEHS wrestler Andrew Chase, a former Gladiator, who finished second in New England.”
In keeping with the core values of character development and physical fitness that are hallmarks of the Boys & Girls Club programs, Gladiators are known for their sportsmanship and character, as well as their physical, mental and technical preparation; their ability to maintain focus; conditioning and appearance; and most importantly, the continued tradition of having one of the best programs in the state while having fun.
There are three teams that compete on a state and regional level. During the winter season there are two teams, the Sr. Gladiators (5th-8th grade) and Jr. Gladiators (PreK-4th grade). From March to June, there is the Gladiator Freestyle Club (Olympic style wrestling) for more experienced youth and high school wrestlers.
“Coaches for the Gladiator Wrestling Programs are volunteers who have a love for the sport of wrestling and an affinity for working with youth,” stated Soucy. “The main goals of the coaches has always been to create a winning program, to develop in the members of the team a love for the sport and, most importantly, to develop a sense of character and integrity that they can carry with them through life.”
‘The Gladiators program is a huge part of the Club,” stated Michael Suchopar, Chief Professional Officer for the Boys & Girls Club. “What I like most about it is that the parents and families play a large role in the Gladiator Wrestling Programs. They travel with the team, volunteer at meets and especially at the tournaments, and in general offer support to their children and all the team members. Without their volunteerism Gladiator Wrestling would not be as successful as it is.”