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St. Joe’s Wrestling Looking to Continue Program Success Under New Leadership

Cover photo courtesy of Julia Kennedy via @SJCIWrestling on Twitter

The 2019-2020 wrestling season will mark the first time in fourteen years that a new head coach will be calling the shots for the Marauders from the corner.

In March, Pete Kennedy stepped down after twenty-two seasons on the Marauders’ coaching staff with nearly a decade and a half of that serving as the head coach. After taking on a new role at the school, the decision to step aside came at the right time for Kennedy who thought on the subject in the months leading up to his official announcement.

In an email correspondence to alumni and friends of the program, Kennedy wrote “The new opportunity is too good to pass up and will require my complete attention. The decision to step away from the head coaching position is something that has been on my mind over the past two seasons and the time is right to step aside.” Kennedy will continue to support the team and program and continue to serve as the Monsignor Martin league wrestling chairman.

It was announced in May that 2005 St. Joe’s graduate and current assistant coach Brad Devlin would take over as head coach of the Marauders beginning this season. According to Kennedy in an email to members of the media, “It has always been my intention that Brad would take over the program. Brad was the perfect choice to move the wrestling program at St. Joe’s forward.”

As a Marauder, Devlin claimed two Monsignor Martin league titles as well as a NYS Catholic High School Athletic Association individual title. He started helping out with program in 2007 and then spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Amherst High School. Devlin returned to St. Joe’s starting with the 2016-2017 season and was inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame in October. Also on the Marauders wrestling staff are assistant coaches Craig Ostrum, Dan Menza, Taylor Golba, and Dan Bavisotto.

“Being an alumnus and teacher focuses my effort on wrestling and the mission of St. Joe’s,” said Devlin. “We are trying to make tough wrestlers and men of character.”

With his first season as head coach upon him, Devlin will have a handful of returning experienced wrestlers to work with, even after losing a graduating class that featured three ‘Catholic states’ place winners in the spring.

Junior Ronnie Jones returns as the highest postseason placing wrestler after winning a Monsignor Martin ‘All-Catholic’ title and earning a runner-up finish at the CHSAA tournament. Jones, like a handful of other Marauders, is looking to not only win a CHSAA title, but become the first St. Joe’s place winner at the federation tournament in Albany since his brother, Richie, earned 5th at 182-pounds in 2015. Prior to Richie Jones’ place finish, only three other wrestlers in program history have placed at the federation tournament: Chris Smith in 1991, 1992, and 1993, Kevin Brinkworth in 1989, and Mike Rozborski in 2005.

“I expect to see Ron pin a lot of people,” said Devlin on his junior star. “He has a knack for putting people on their back from neutral. I am eager to see him pin guys from top as well.”

In addition to Ronnie Jones, a trio of seniors with CHSAA place finishes return this winter to try claim the league dual meet title for the first time since the 2016-2017 season. Caleb Lesswing and Ben Parish both earned individual league titles in their respective weight classes in 2018-2019. Lesswing finished the season with a runner-up performance at Catholic States while Parish wrestled to a 5th place finish. Dalas Jackson earned 5th in CHSAA as well coming off a runner-up performance at All-Catholics. In addition to Jones, Lesswing, Parish, and Jackson, Devlin will have seven more All-Catholics place winners in the lineup this winter.

Also huge for St. Joe’s is the addition of freshman Luke Vantresca who placed 5th in Section VI Class AA as an 8th grader at Frontier last winter.

“We have three senior captains (Parish, Lesswing, and Jackson) who are spread out in weights so they don’t drill together, but they can help the newer guys,” said Devlin on his team leaders for this season. “That will be crucial for us to have team success. Last year we had three CHSAA finalists and I believe our odds are great for another three, possibly four.”

St. Joe’s kicks off regular season varsity action at home on Tuesday, December 3rd against Section V powerhouse Spencerport.

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