Bristol’s Wrestling Angel
by Cate Murway
Scholastic wrestling is the sixth most popular sport among high school boys but it is without a doubt the sport of choice for Angel Christian Rodriquez, BHS ’16, who is sometimes dubbed Chris.
This Thursday’s child has far to go; and going, he is…..
Several years ago, Colleen Marie Britt relocated her three children to historic Bristol on the Delaware, “a small community and a nice town with good opportunities”.
Angel was in the seventh grade at that time. His older brother, Pheonix Joseph, BCTHS ’15 is also a wrestler who won his first match at the District 1-A Championships held at the Church Farm School in Exton on Saturday.
“Today marked the end of Pheonix’s wrestling as a Warrior. I'm so proud of what my son has accomplished over these 4 years. I am truly going to miss these days,” shared their mother, Colleen.
The youngest, Riley Nicole, a Snyder-Girotti student, plays softball and is a student of dance at the Stepping Stone Dance Studio.
Angel is one of the four captains of the BHS wrestling team, along with seniors, Josh Maldonado and Jeremiah Haywood and fellow junior, Cameron Beckett, led by Enrique Velez, BHS ’74, head wrestling coach. Angel has been kept from competitions this season due to a stress fracture in the calcaneus, also called the heel bone, a large bone that forms the foundation of the rear part of the foot, an injury that began at a Manhattan cross country invitational, preventing him from participating in the 120# weight class this year. Not size, but mental toughness is his forte; “quick and skillful, not just trying to overpower people”. Coach Velez shared, “We are looking forward to him returning, injury free. He sees opportunity and acts on it."
Last February, Angel earned the District 1/12 Class AA champion 106# weight District title and his name is emblazoned on the banner in the BHS gym. “1st one since 1994!” The BHS team was tied for fifth place in 2014.
This year, teammates Shaun O’Brien and Moussa Kone captured individual titles in the championships. Four additional BHS athletes, his co-captains, Josh and Cameron, as well as Ricky Patterson and Austin Knox will compete in the South East Class AA Regional Tournament next weekend at Wilson West Lawn in Reading. The States will be held the following weekend at the Giant Center in Hershey.
The assistant coach, Scott Edward Brown teaches science and physics at Bristol High. He and his wife, Diane Jean Brown moved to Bristol a little over a year ago. Diane works as a personnel management specialist at the Naval Base in Philadelphia but here in 19007, she is the BHS wrestling team’s “biggest fan. I’m at all the matches and I make brownies for them. They are like our kids!”
Wrestling is a demanding sport that requires much commitment. Each wrestler must dominate the mat.
“Angel always helps his teammates. He’s a quiet leader. He and the other captains have really helped the team come together with a commitment to practice hard and step up their game.”
The BHS wrestlers have racked up wins and pins.
Running for Angel is therapeutic. “During running when I get tired, I see the scenery and it keeps me calm.” It is long distance running in the fall that prepares him for the winter wrestling season. “Cross country keeps me in shape and the view is fantastic!” Angel has been competing as the 6th or 7th runner on the Varsity squad. He competed and medaled in the Mill Street Run and he coached and trained his mom. Colleen came in 3rd in her age group in the Open Race. “My problem was always endurance” but she had a great coach!
She keeps her son fortified for all of his activities.
Angel complimented his mother, “She is an exceptional cook. She makes comfort foods. I like chicken and rice the best.”
Snyder- Girotti 6th grade teacher, James Michael Esposito “Espo” has been the cross country coach for the last four years. Angel’s commitment to the sport and his work ethic has not gone unnoticed. “He’ll most likely be a captain in the fall.” Espo appreciates his dedication and stated that Angel “enjoys life and it’s infectious; he’s very light hearted, but hard working.”
Now hurdling may be in the picture for the wrestler this spring.
Sometimes they run around the town for their 5 mile distance runs. “We get a nice view of the community. I like it here.” Angel is a decent 5:08 miler but shares, “He [Coach Jones] is trying to get me into the 300m hurdles this year.”
Angel has begun his college search and a goal of computer network engineering. His grades are “exceptional for the most part.” He is an NHS student earning Distinguished Honors and he is currently ranked in the top 10 of his class. “Math just comes easy.” His Pre-Calculus course with college-level algebra and Trigonometry is designed to prepare him for the study of Calculus.
He participated in the Writer’s Voice Silver Bay, NY writing workshops last spring where he had the opportunity to write and recite poetry. “An overall fantastic trip!”
Angel takes a piano class [‘Yankee Doodle’ was the very first piece he ever played] and he participates in the ‘by far the favorite’ after-school club, Bristol ChemClub with Dr. William “Bill” Smith. “He brings in scientist speakers and we get to do interesting experiments.”
His mom expressed confidence in her son’s abilities. “I envision him as a leader in computer network engineering. He is very good in anything technology based.”
Angel appreciates the ambiance of historic Bristol and he does his part in keeping it beautiful. Spring is his favorite season! He volunteered in the "Keep Bristol Beautiful," town-wide clean-up campaign and helped clean up “home plate”, the baseball fields on Jefferson Avenue. Angel also sold the home grown vegetables for the Snyder Girotti Elementary School Plant Sale.
Boy Scouts was part of his life for a year through the 21st Century Learning Center Program held at the St. James Church. He continues “to help other people at all times”. One of these people is his neighbor, Miss Marge.
Family is beyond doubt important to him. Angel enjoys treks to the shore to visit his grandparents and he is most proud of his relatives. Angel’s maternal great grandfather, the late Joseph Daniel Finn was a WWII Army veteran and his Uncle Kevin Volpe is currently serving in the Navy.
Pets are important, too. He and his siblings own three cats, rescue and shelter pets; and a dog, Zoey, a Jack Russell Terrier purchased from a pet store.
He finds author James B. Patterson’s suspense/thriller books “quite interesting” and he enjoyed “Divergent”, one of the last movies he saw. According to that film, “The future belongs to those who know where they belong”. But fun for him and ‘his rightful place’ for now, is just “hanging out with my friends.”
Small towns are idyllic, cohesive, friendly, and unhurried and the ones with true heart, like historic Bristol on the Delaware, work diligently with the youth who portend the future of their unified, proud community.
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