wrestling state championships

Mt. Hope wrestler Grifka wins second state title

Jenness takes third place, team takes sixth

Photos and story by Richard W Dionne Jr
Posted 3/3/20

PROVIDENCE—Junior Cory Grifka won the 182 pound wrestling state championship by winning a 12-1 major decision over Hope’s Jonathan Feliz on Sunday night during the RIIL wrestling …

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wrestling state championships

Mt. Hope wrestler Grifka wins second state title

Jenness takes third place, team takes sixth


Mt. Hope High School junior Cory Grifka won the 182-pound wrestling state championship by a 12-1 major decision over Hope’s Jonathan Feliz on Sunday night during the Rhode Island Interscholastic League wrestling state championships at the Providence Career and Technical Facility. Grifka went 4-0 during the tournament, winning a 16-3 major decision over Kai Gallman of North Kingstown in the semifinals and pinning Darius Ward of LaSalle and Aidan DelSignore of Cranston West.

“It feels great,” said Grifka of the championship win. “It’s always nice, when you put in all that work during the season, traveling different places, working with different opponents and finally getting to the top. It feels good.” Grifka won the state championship at 182 pounds in 2019 and now has won two belts in a row. In the championship bout against Feliz, Grifka was in total control of his opponent.

“I knew he was strong,” Grifka said of Feliz. “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to force anything. I kind of just took what was there.”

He manhandled Feliz, who only scored a point when Grifka let him up, once. The Hope crowd attempted to spur on Feliz and Grifka holding down his opponent already well ahead, looked up and grinned at the crowd. It was a defining moment for the junior who is grappling with a new level of confidence this year and now sets his gaze on the New England tournament and nationals.

“I want to win at New England’s,” said Grifka. “I placed second last year. I want to win it this time.”

Grifka is also looking to place at the National High School All-American tournament this year. Last season, Grifka went 3-2 and didn’t place.

“It’s definitely one of my goals this year. But that’s looking ahead,” Grifka said.

“Cory’s wrestling at a different level,” said Mt. Hope head coach Eric Francis. “He’s been phenomenal.”

Coach Francis said Grifka was just a match away from placing at nationals.

“Cory has the tools to do it. I’m hoping that he can. His work ethic is incredible, and he’s wresting at a totally different level than the guys up at that weight class.”

Third place for heavyweight

Mt. Hope's Atley Jenness, at 285 pounds, placed third in the state. Jenness is a second-year wrestler who improved immensely this season working with new assistant heavyweight coach Ryan Fazzi. 

“It was really great,” said Jenness, who pinned Kyle Sanford of Coventry in 3:17 to take third place at the wrestling state tournament. Last season Jenness finished in seventh place at the state tournament. 

“I came back this year and wrestled the same kids. I did really good over the off season and worked really hard for it,” said Jenness. He praised new assistant coach Ryan Fazzi for his success at the tournament. “I’m so grateful for him,” said Jenness. “He wrestled with us in practice a lot. He’s a big guy.”

“Atley has shown a ton of improvement,” said coach Francis. “Placing third means he now qualifies for the New England tournament. He’s been working very hard. And that was his goal, to make it.”  

The sophomore lost by fall in the heavyweight semifinal match to Bishop Hendricken’s Adolofo Betancur. Jenness wrestled back by pinning West Warwick’s Marcos Vigo-golz in 1:29 before beating Sanford for third place. 

As a team, the Huskies scored 127.5 points and placed sixth at the state championships. Nick Gomes, Liam Mallon and Brock Pacheco placed fifth in their weight classes, to go along with Grifka’s first-place finish, Jenness' third-place finish, and Ethan Bland’s fourth-place finish.

Wrestlers by weight 

  • 106-pound freshman Carson Correia went 2-2 during the tournament. He got a tough draw and lost his first match by a 5-2 decision to Bishop Hendricken’s Aidan Zabbo.  “Carson met some difficult wrestlers,” said coach Francis. He’s only a freshman and he has room for improvement. He did really well throughout the year. He got some big wins and helped us win some matches.”
  • 113-pound junior Nick Gomes pinned Nameek Viera of Lincoln in 41 seconds and placed fifth in the state. Gomes lost to Coventry’s Hayden Myers in the semifinals.  “He had a tough match against Coventry,” said coach Francis. “I’m sure that he’s disappointed. Nick was points away from being a state champ. He jumped a weight class from 106 to 113. He hit more upperclassmen. But he was right there with them. He worked hard and kept his head up. That’s all you can ask as a coach.”
  • 120-pound Ethan Bland lost a 12-5 decision to Hope’s Alexander Reigosa and finished in fourth place. Bland lost in the 120-pound semifinal to Coventry’s prolific All-American, Joziah Fry, who later became the 120 state champ.  “He ran into a buzz saw with Fry in the semifinals,” said coach Francis. “I give Ethan props. He put all his effort into every match.”
  • 126-pound Liam Mallon won a 12-2 major decision over Avery Etheridge of West Warwick to place fifth in the state. Mallon lost an 11-0 major decision to Dominick Passanante of Cumberland in the quarterfinals. “Liam split this year with the Cumberland kid. That was a match that he had to win,” said coach Francis. “Liam scored a lot of points for us during the season. He consistently wins by pin.” 
  • 132-pound freshman Brock Pacheco won a 6-0 decision over Tyler Keaney of Bishop Hendricken and placed fifth in the state. He lost a 5-4 decision to J’Mari Lowman of Ponaganset in the quarterfinals. “He beat Lowman earlier in the year, but lost to him here. That’s the kid that’s going to New Englands.” “Brock is a phenomenal kid. He’s easy to coach. He’s very basic but he keeps great position.” 
  • 138-pound Patrick McGovern went 3-2 during the tournament. McGovern, a LaSalle transplant, is the Huskies' only senior. McGovern lost an 8-2 decision to Parris Cooper of Providence in the quarterfinals. “Pat came in and worked his butt off. He’s been a leader. He’s been humble in victory and defeat. I see a lot of good things in Pat’s future,” said coach Francis. 
  • 152-pound Ryle Furtado went 2-2 at the tournament. “We moved him up a weight class. We felt he could do better at 152. He was very competitive for us.” 
  • 160-pound Matt Campo lost a 10-3 decision to Antonio Luongo of Tollgate in the first round. He was 0-2 at states.  “Campo stayed up heavier for us. He was trying to help the team as best he could. He’s a very good teammate,” said coach Francis. 
  • 220-pound Patrick Pitts lost by fall to Anthony Bottella-Robshae of Ponaganset in the round of 16. He was 4-2 at the tournament, wrestling his way back through the consolation round to take seventh place.  “He has improved incredibly,” said coach Francis. “We are going to try to keep him at 220 next year. He’s faster at that weight. Having he and Atley as our heavyweights is a great thing.”

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