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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
With huge swaths of their starters out due to injury and illness, the Needham Rockets wrestling squad dropped its first match of the season, 42-39.
The team started strongly early, tallying several pins in the lightest weight classes. However, as the weights became higher and higher, the Rockets could not compete with the Tigers of Newton North, an issue Coach Robert Pritchett attributed to missing key contributors.
“We had three of our starters out. Peter Bannon, who is one of our senior captains, was out. John Corbett was out at 160; he’s one of our seniors, one of our most veteran wrestlers. When you start giving those matches to JV guys, it’s tough,” said Pritchett. “Give the JV guys their respect. They stepped up, they just weren’t good enough. Not yet, anyway.”
The highlight of the night for the Rockets was senior captain Dan Walsh’s performance, which saw him survive a hip toss, escape the position, work back to his feet, slam his opponent, and ultimately pin him for the victory.
Unfortunately, as the match wore on, highlights became fewer and fewer, culminating in a loss in the penultimate match that meant Needham’s heavyweight wrestler would not get to compete.
Coach Pritchett did not seem panicked about the loss, which gave the team a 2-1 record. Instead, he chose to tell the team to maintain its business-like approach and focus on the things it needs to improve upon.
“There’s things we just have to fix. JV or varsity. I think our guys are a little better than they showed today, and we just have some things to work on,” said Pritchett. “I always call it a day at the office. You’ve just got to put in a good day at the office. You need to put in the work and work on some things.”
Wrestlers came out to their own individual entrance music, ranging from the predictable (like the athletic event classic, “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor), to the tangentially related (professional wrestling star John Cena’s theme song), to the downright baffling (“Ill Make a Man Out of You” from the Disney movie “Mulan”).
But it was the team’s entrance song, Jay-Z’s “Dirt off Your Shoulder,” that may be most prescient.
After Wednesday night, the Needham Rockets will have to brush the loss off, get healthy, and put in another day at the office.