Coast Guard wrestling team puts on a good show in only home match

Coast Guard Academy's Parker Brunkala, left, prepares to wrestles Rhode Island College's Brandon Nunez during the 125-pound match on Wednesday night at Billard Hall on the campus in New London. Brunkala won 15-5 and Coast Guard won the match 49-0.   (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Coast Guard Academy's Parker Brunkala, left, prepares to wrestles Rhode Island College's Brandon Nunez during the 125-pound match on Wednesday night at Billard Hall on the campus in New London. Brunkala won 15-5 and Coast Guard won the match 49-0. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

New London — Coast Guard Academy wrestling coach Kevin Bratland recently spoke to his Bears about sharpening their focus.

Judging from Wednesday's match, the Bears are good listeners.

In a dominating performance, Coast Guard trailed in only one match — and only briefly — on the way to a 49-0 rout of Rhode Island College at Billard Hall.

"This week was a big turning point in our season," junior Nick Remke said. "We've just been struggling a little bit and in practice coach sat us down and refocused our energy and our attention. Now we have recharged batteries."

Coast Guard is in the midst of another successful season. The Bears entered their only home match ranked 20th in the nation in Division III. Three wrestlers reside in the top 10 in their respective weight class — senior Chris Sullivan (fifth, 157 pounds), Remke (seventh, 165) and sophomore A.J. Aeberli (ninth, 174).

The biggest challenge for the Bears on Wednesday was avoiding a letdown with the match well in hand.

They were the aggressors from start. Freshman Parker Brunkala quickly jumped out to an 8-1 lead at 125 and scored a major decision over Brandon Nunez, 15-5.

The wins piled up from there, as sophomore Owen McClave (133), freshman Matt McGowan (141), freshman Patrick Moynihan (149), Sullivan (157), Remke (165), sophomore Nick Moreno (174), sophomore Jeremy Berson (184), freshman Jonathan Wagner (197) and senior Cory Tomasetti (285) ended up with their arms raised. Moynihan and Tomasetti each recorded a pin.

"I was happy with how the guys wrestled," said Bratland, who's completely rebuilt the program in his four seasons. "That is sometimes tough when the team score is a little bit out of hand maybe to keep that competitiveness. I thought everybody did a good job and kept their composure and went out and wrestled hard every match.

"... We're getting back to form like we were in the beginning of the year. I'm excited for this weekend. I think we're going to do really well."

The match was a tuneup for the New England Duals this weekend in Providence. Sullivan will be one of the wrestlers to watch.

Sullivan earned his 94th career win on Wednesday, registering a technical fall over James Smith, 16-0. He was honored along with fellow seniors Logan Sullivan and Tomasetti before the match.

"It went by pretty quick," Sullivan said of his career. "I remember when I was a freshman and it was coach Bratland's first year and I didn't know what to expect. ... I'm really glad it worked out. I wouldn't want any other coach."

Bratland added: "You can never replace a guy like Chris. He's been tremendous the four years he's been here. He's resurrected our program."

Sullivan's leadership will be difficult to replace, too. He sets the tone for his teammates.

"It's fun to be around him because he has a quiet confidence and a seriousness," Remke said. "He wants to get better and he wants to get everyone else better. But he'll still joke around with you a little bit.

"He's been really great. As far as things outside of the wrestling room with the academy, he's the one to go to as far as if there is a problem. He'll talk you through it or talk to someone else to try to figure it out."

Remke's wrestling career is on the rise.

After an injury-plagued freshman year, Remke burst onto the scene as a sophomore. He's continued to improve and entered the national ranking this season. Against RIC, he scored a 22-7 major decision over Nick Gould.

"He's a tremendous wrestler and a great leader on our team, so he's done a great job," Bratland said.

The Bears (5-3) have a challenging schedule ahead. They'll be back on the road for the remainder of the season.

They relished a chance to compete in front of their home fans on Wednesday.

"It was definitely fun," Remke said. "At school, everybody was asking me about it. I was telling everybody to come. It's cool. Everyone supports us."

g.keefe@theday.com

Coast Guard Academy's Chris Sullivan wrestles Rhode Island College's James Smith during the 157-pound match on Wednesday night at Billard Hall on the campus in New London. Sullivan won his match 16-0 on a tech fall.   (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Coast Guard Academy's Chris Sullivan wrestles Rhode Island College's James Smith during the 157-pound match on Wednesday night at Billard Hall on the campus in New London. Sullivan won his match 16-0 on a tech fall. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

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