Owls make it nine straight!
Saturday, February, 25
By Dave Dyer
LONDONDERRY — Sparked by a pair of juniors, the number nine proved magical for the Timberlane wrestling team last night at the Meet of Champions.
The Owls had nine finalists of their 10 qualifiers for next week’s New England meet in Providence. In the process, the Owls captured their ninth straight MOC crown and 12th in the last 13 years.
Timberlane finished with 280 points, far ahead of surprising runner-up Manchester Central (134) and third-place Pinkerton (110), which enjoyed a fine day with three champions.
“We wrestled extremely well in the quarterfinals, knowing we’d get 10 place-winners. Then when we won nine of 10 in the semifinals, that made it a great day,” said Timberlane coach Barry Chooljian. “We’ve got some work to do, but I’m pretty pleased.”
Among those Chooljian was particularly pleased with were juniors Josh Burnham and Harry Denoncourt, both of whom made recoveries to capture two of Timberlane’s four individual titles. Star 113-pounder Zach Bridson and another junior, Adam Corey, had the others.
Burnham came back strong this year after finishing a disappointing fourth at last year’s MOC.
“I really wanted to go to New England last year and, when I didn’t, it made me more determined to do it this year,” said Burnham, who earned a decisive 7-0 victory in the 132-pound finals and improved to 42-5 on the year. “I’ve wanted this all year along with placing at New England.”
Burnham knows, however, that winning a fifth straight New England crown with a young team will not be easy.
“Everyone is going to have to step it up even more next week,” said Burnham.
It will be difficult for Denoncourt to step up much more than he did yesterday, however. The junior 182-pounder, who finished fourth at the Division 1 meet a week ago, pulled a stunner in the semifinals when he edged Concord standout Walters Ndi 4-3 in overtime and then won a convincing 9-5 decision in the finals.
Joining them with first places in dominating fashion were Bridson and Corey.
Bridson, a three-time MOC winner, had three first-period pins and improved to 44-2 for the season. He also picked up a scholarship from the New Hampshire Wrestling Coaches Association before the finals and later was named Outstanding Wrestler for the second straight week.
A repeat MOC champion, like Bridson, Corey had it tougher, but he was never in serious trouble all day. He defeated Londonderry rival Dan Roger in the finals for the second straight week, this time 5-3, lifting his season mark to 32-8.
Finishing second for the Owls were Jake Durkin (106), freshman Dan Scalzo (126), Josh Riley (160), Efrain Rolan (170) and heavyweight Jordan Eastman. Riley, who is 39-6 on the year, got in bad positions twice and dropped an 8-5 decision to Casey Quinn of Hollis-Brookline.
Luke Morrier advanced for the Owls by placing third at 152.
Pinkerton got off to a great start when freshman Jean-Luc Lemieux dominated Durkin in the 106-pound finals, winning with a 9-0 major decision to improve to 35-2 on the year. Zach Daigle (33-5) had the meet of his career to capture the 138-pound title, winning 7-5 in overtime over Manchester Central’s Keaton Peterson in the finals.
Finally Tanner Burke became one of four repeat champs on the day with a courageous crown at 145. Breezing along with a 7-0 lead in the second period, Burke suffered what looked like a serious knee injury, but he eventually got off the mat and returned to action, pinning Nashua South’s Marcus Jacobo in the third period.
Also from the area, Sanborn’s Jon Scheidegger had a fine tournament to finish second at 152 while three Salem wrestlers — Ryan Bolduc, Jon Rheaume and Alex Lira — took thirds to advance to New England. Rheaume defeated Pelham’s Josh Medeiros in the consolation finals.
Meet of Champions
Team scores (36 teams): 1. Timberlane 276 ... 9th straight title, 2. Manchester Central, 132,
3. Pinkerton 110, 7.tie Londonderry 68, 16. Salem 33.5, 19. Sanborn 30.5, 22.tie Windham 21.5, 26. Pelham 15
Winners and local New England qualifiers (top3):
106: 1. Jean-Luc Lemieux (Pink), 2. Jake Durkin (Tim); 113: 1. Zach
Bridson (Tim), 3. Ryan Bolduc (Sal); 120: 1. Adam Corey (Tim), 2. Dan
Roger (Lon), 3. Jon Rheaume (Sal); 126: 1. Kyle Peterson (MC), 2. Dan
Scalzo (Tim), 3. Alex Lira (Sal); 132: 1. Josh Burnham (Tim); 138: 1.
Zach Daigle (Pink)
145: 1. Tanner Burke (Pink); 152: 1. Joey Page (NN), 2. Jon Scheidegger
(Sanborn); 160: 1. Casey Quinn (H-B), 2. Josh Riley (Tim); 170: 1. Joe
Albina (Milford), 2. Efrain Rolan (Tim); 182: 1. Harry Denoncourt
(Tim); 195: 1. Anthony Valentin (MC); 220: 1. Dakoda Simula (Plymouth);
HVY: 1. Steve Dwight (MM), 2. Jordan Eastman (Tim)