North Andover repeats as champ
Wednesday, February, 16
By Dave Dyer
WORCESTER — A tough week came to a terrific ending for the North Andover wrestling team at WPI last night.
The Scarlet Knights, just days after learning of the
arrest and resulting resignation of legendary head coach Dave
Castricone, defended their Division 2 dual-meet state title with a
stirring 32-25 victory over previously-unbeaten Natick.
When 215-pound senior Adam Bates clinched the crown
with a pin in the final minute of his match, the large and vocal North
Andover side erupted in jubilation, and perhaps relief, at the happy
ending to a brilliant 31-1 season.
"This is even better than last year, 10 times
better," exclaimed senior 145-pounder Frank McCarthy. "There's nothing
like winning it twice and, after everything we went through, we deserve
McCarthy dominated Mariano Restivo-Lage for the
second straight year, by an impressive 9-0 major decision, but it was
classmate Bates who sent the fans to their feet with a pin as time was
running out in a wild match with Nate Ziegler, who wrestled at
heavyweight for Natick last year in the finals against the Knights.
"He was pretty strong, but I always go for the pin
and I thought I'd get it," said Bates. "That was a great feeling when I
Although Bates clinched the win, every win seemed
instrumental for the Knights against a Natick team that came in as an
undefeated No. 1 seed.
Certainly none was bigger than at 152 when, in a
battle of standouts, junior Danny Connelly — with just a 7-5 lead — put
Tim Arthur on his back with just two seconds remaining to give the
Knights a commanding 23-12 lead.
"When I got that final move, I knew the match was
over," said Connelly. "It was such a relief winning like we did. It was
harder than last year, but we stuck together this week. We knew we had
a job to do and we did it."
Although there was still work to be done, interim coach Carl Cincotta definitely felt more at ease after Connelly's match.
"That was the key match in my mind," said Cincotta. "When Danny got him down, I knew he wouldn't let him up.
"I'm just so happy for the kids. They were focused this week and there were no signs of distraction."
The meet started on a promising note at 103 when
sophomore Danielle Coughlin got an escape in the second period and then
held Mark Gutierrez down for the entire third period for a hard-fought
"I think Danielle winning at 103 was the most important match," said McCarthy. "That motivated us."
Natick responded with two straight wins, however, to
grab an early 9-3 lead before freshmen Zane Melillo and Brad Drover
responded with decisions at 125 and 130 to put the Knights back on top.
Melillo was particularly aggressive from the start on his way to a 13-2
After James Smith claimed a win at 135, Jason
Ricketts put North Andover back on top — bad knee and all — with a 4-2
decision at 140.
"It (the knee) was hurting, but it was one of those things where you couldn't think about it," said Ricketts.
That set the stage for wins by McCarthy and Connelly
in the next two weight classes. Then, leading 23-19, sophomore Ryan
Neals set up the clincher with a 2-0 decision at 189. Similar to
Coughlin, he took the lead in the second period and then held his
opponent down for the entire third period.
"This is definitely more satisfying than last year," said Coughlin. "We pulled together as a team during the week and did it."
103: Danielle Coughlin (NA) dec. Mark Gutierrez 1-0; 112: Pete Gutierrez (N) pin Codey Alter 4:32; 119: Zach Thomas (M) dec. Anthony Polanco 2-0; 125: Zane Melillo (NA) major dec. Evan Ziegler 13-2; 130: Brad Drover (NA) dec. Will Sulser 6-3; 135: James Smith (N) dec. Dan Lora 9-4; 140: Jason Ricketts (NA) dec. Nick Zinck 4-2; 145: Frank McCarthy (NA) major dec. Mariano Restivo-Lage 9-0; 152: Dan Connelly (NA) pin Tim Arthur 5:58; 160: Alex Restivo-Lage (N) major dec. Rob Drover 9-1; 171: Glen Duffy (N) dec. Jake Mehlman 9-2; 189: Ryan Neals (NA) dec. Art Rose 2-0; 215: Adam Bates (NA) pin Nate Ziegler 5:10; HVY:Josh Cappadona (N) pin John Pollard :31