By Dan Harrison
---- — The Peabody High wrestling program is just three years old and already has undergone a regime change.
New head coach Dave Pinette knows the road that lays ahead of his Tanner wrestlers will be a challenging one. But if the team can stick to the basics and keep the work ethic it’s shown so far, there’s no telling the success that could come.
“One of the biggest challenges is letting the kids know the expectations and how a wrestling team functions and the day-to-day things,” said Pinette, who was the head coach at Pentucket and Hamilton-Wenham for a year each and has held assistant positions at Haverhill and Marlborough. “A lot of kids on the team have never seen a wrestling match.”
Pinette grew up in Haverhill and started wrestling in the sixth grade. He went on to wrestle for four years at Haverhill High and another four at Bridgewater State where he was a team captain. Pinette understands that before you can walk, you must learn to crawl so his focus this season will be on fundamentals.
“I’m big on fundamentals. So we’re just basically introducing the basics and fundamentals and we’re going to keep drilling, drilling and drilling,” said Pinette. “Always sticking to our fundamentals.”
Now, the 37-year-old Pinette will look to his own captains, seniors Evan Connolly (182 pounds) and Ronjon Santa Cruz (106 lbs.), to help cultivate a competitive culture around the program. After all, Santa Cruz and Connolly have already done a superb job recruiting kids for the team in the offseason. The recruiting paid off considering Pinette’s final roster has 30 members.
“(Santa Cruz and Connolly) did a lot of drumming up support throughout the year to get kids interested in trying out,” said Pinette. “Our numbers are pretty good for a third-year program, so they’ve been behind a lot of that.”
Pinette has been pleased with senior Sal Shorzi (160 lbs.), who took last year off but does have a year of wrestling experience under his belt.
“It’s his overall attitude. Sal’s a hard-worker and really willing to learn,” said Pinette. “He has only one year of wrestling (experience) but his technique is pretty flawless right now and he’s shown some things. I think he is going to have a really good year.”