Chariho’s Kyle Merritt

Chariho’s Kyle Merritt celebrates his 169th Chariho career win with his father and head coach Scott Thursday evening, January 30, 2020, at Babcock Hall in Westerly.

Westerly Sun

WESTERLY — If there is a first family for the Chariho High wrestling program it would have to be the Merritts.

Scott Merritt is in his 29th season as the Chargers’ coach.  He was a New England champion and a two-time state champion as a Charger.

His older son, Josh, was a four-year wrestler for the Chargers and placed fourth in the state tournament at 106 pounds his senior year. He now coaches at Chariho Middle.

Kyle Merritt, who is a senior with this year’s Chariho team, has qualified for New Englands three times and was a state champion as a freshman.

He added to the family legacy Thursday night at Babcock Hall, picking up three victories to become the all-time wins leader at the school with 169. He pinned Westerly’s Adam Gomez 59 seconds into their bout at 145 pounds for the historic win.

Merritt is 169-19 with 111 pins for his career. He surpassed Tommy Wrzesien, who finished his career in 2018 at 168-21 with 119 pins.

“It means a lot; I’ve been working hard for four years. It’s always been a goal of mine,” Kyle Merritt said.

Merritt started wrestling when he was 4 and even remembers his first win as a member of the Westerly Wrestling Club.

“I remember the location and I remember the match. I won the first one, but lost the other ones [that day],” Merritt said. “Wrestling runs in the family. I have always looked up to my brother and I have always looked up to my dad, ever since I was 4.”

The match was added to Westerly’s schedule recently. Coach Merritt thanked Westerly coach Al Gaccione for the gesture.

“I want to thank Westerly for helping,” Scott Merritt said. “My father is 83 and he lives local and Al did us a favor wrestling us again.

“If there is someone you want to surpass, you want to surpass a titan like Tommy. As Kyle’s father, it was a great moment to see him get his 169th win.”

Chariho (9-9) beat Westerly, 54-20, and Mount Pleasant, 48-26, but lost to Woonsocket, 54-25.

Chariho picked up eight forfeits against Westerly. Against Mount Pleasant, Christian Fortune (120 pounds, 3:35), Dominic Bonanno (160, 1:43) and Lance Delbonis (182, 2:42) won with pins. Chariho received five forfeits against the Kilties.

Against Woonsocket, Bonanno (152, 1:29) and Delbonis (182, :50) won with pins. Gary Gardiner was an 8-0 winner at 220.

Chariho next wrestles at the Smithfield Invitational on Saturday at 9 a.m.

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