by David James
In a program that has won 16 of the last 19 Division 2 south state championships (five in a row), “Tradition never graduates,” even after losing six Hockomock champions and three state finalists from last year’s varsity squad.
For all the attention North Attleboro’s sports teams get for every “successful season,” the most consistent and dominant team in the school over the last two decades has been the wrestling team. Now they look to make another run at a league and state championship.
The team is headlined by senior Captains Nick Gould and Brandon Graveline, who are both third year varsity starters, and were key components to the team’s state championship run last season. Gould hopes to take after last year’s captain, his older brother Mike, and be someone the younger athletes on the team can look up to on and off the mat.
“I don’t usually give him credit for anything, but Mike always put the team first,” said Nick. “I hope that the underclassmen see that in me and that it reflects in their attitude.”
Head Coach Wayne Griffin, who has an all-time record of 276-79, received the Division 2 coach of the year award last year for his team’s success on the mat. However, the team tells me he’s much prouder of another award: winning the academic excellence award for the 14th straight year. The team was also nominated for the MIAA sportsmanship award for the 5th time under Coach Griffin.
“Coach Griffin cares about us as young men first, and wrestlers second. He always asked me how my grades were and still checks in on me now. He has more integrity than any other man I’ve met in my life. I can not say enough good things about that man,” said last year’s captain Nick Morrison.
Alongside Gould and Graveline, key returners from last year’s varsity lineup include Brad White, Jake Direnzo, and Brady Folan.
“There’s not as many kids returning as there were last year, but the kids that are coming back are talented, and good leaders. They’ll bring the most out of the rest of the team,” said Captain Gould.
Make no mistake, last year’s senior class will be missed. Brennan Sankey, Devin Spratt, and Mike Gould have left huge shoes to fill. In Sankey’s case, literally. But the wrestling team has had multiple digit wins 12 years in a row and they always seem to end up in at least the state semifinal match. A betting man would be a fool to doubt this group.