Virginia Beach, VA – Narragansett wrestlers Michael Gallagher and Alexander Millen had strong showings at the 23rd annual National High School Coaches Association Wrestling Tournament at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.
In the center, there were 28 wrestling mats spread out for four days with thousands of fellow wrestlers from all over the country, testing their skills and strength against one another.
Gallagher took his 45-2 record as the runner-up in the Rhode Island 160-pound weight class against other sophomores. Unfortunately, Michael’s first match was against the defending 145-pound freshman national champion, Nathan Marek from Oklahoma.
Gallagher tried hard but he could not keep up with Marek’s take downs. Gallagher lost 15-8. Marek would go on to place third in the weight class and would give up only one or two points to the each of his victims.
Gallagher would defeat wrestlers 3-1 from Alabama and Ohio before losing to Carlo Milano from Ohio, 4-3, two matches short of All-American distinction. Milano lost his next match.
Millen (33-10) easily pinned his way to the Rhode Island Freshman State Title at 220 pounds in February. The next step as a freshman was to take on all comers at the Nationals.
There, Millen ran into Steven Bledsoe of South Carolina. Millen was easily up 13-2 in the third period before pinning Bledsoe at the 4:29 mark.
Next, Millen would have a rematch of the USA New England finals of last year when he faced Jack Luciano of Vermont. Luciano had pinned Millen in the second period during the finals match last year. Luciano also would be the third place finisher in the Vermont high school tournament this year.
Now the rematch went in favor of Luciano again, but Millen fought tough to an 11-3 decision. Luciano would finish fourth at this National Tournament.
Millen went on to pin Tanner Andrews of Maine in the second period of his next match. He lost to Kyle Muehring of Missouri, who finished third, before ending up in the All-American medal round match for seventh and eighth place. Regardless of the win or loss, Millen’s name will be recorded at the National High School Sports Hall of Fame in Pennsylvania.
Up to this point in the tournament Millen had wrestled well against the nation’s best freshman wrestlers, throwing and countering throws and moves, without a major mistake.
Late in the first period against Cal Haines of Pennsylvania, Millen almost had a reversal and back points for a possible win, when he turned the wrong way and was put to his back and pinned with 10 seconds left in the period.
Millen was happy about his experience and to be on the All-American medal podium late Friday afternoon.
Millen was able to reflect on his wrestling during the trip back home. He hopes to improve his All-American standing next year with a return trip to Virginia with Gallagher and other Narragansett teammates. Millen was back to practice on Sunday while Gallagher went to practice Monday.
Millen is also reading for the Narragansett High School lacrosse team while Gallagher continues with spring tournaments. Things are looking up for Narragansett Wrestling.
Joining Millen and Gallagher on the trip to Virginia Beach were Rhode Island Division II Assistant coach of the Year Mario Forte and Volunteer Coach (and dad) Mike Millen Sr.
From Chariho, coach Scott James, wrestlers Blake James, All-American Freshman at 182 Sal Desantis III, and wrestler TJ Lanphear.
Article and photos courtesy of Mike Millen Sr., who is Alex’s father and the athletic director of the Pier School in Narragansett.