PROVIDENCE — With headphones in, Methuen junior Christian Monserrat walked around quietly as he awaited his championship match in Saturday night’s New England Wrestling Championships at the Providence Career and Technical Academy.
Monserrat had been on the same stage twice before, but the results were not what he was striving for. He had been on the podium before, but he wasn’t in the winner’s spot where he had envisioned himself.
On Saturday night, he finally accomplished his goal, winning the New England crown at 126 pounds by defeating Central Catholic’s Pat Lacroix, 5-2. Monserrat, a three-time All-State champ, only has two losses in his career and both came at this event.
“It feels really good, but I feel like I came out slow, I didn’t wrestle the way I wanted to,” said a humble Monserrat. “Didn’t score as many points as I wanted to, but I feel great finally getting my first New England title.”
The difference in this year’s tournament, besides more experience, was that he had wrestled Lacroix twice in the past two weeks.
Monserrat took Lacroix down a few times en route to a 7-1 win in the state final last week, which had him confident for Saturday’s match.
“I’ve been taking every match, every tournament, every meet one by one, and I’ve just been getting myself ready and mentally prepared,” Monserrat said. “I’ve wrestled him before so I feel like we just know each other’s techniques and style.”
Billerica senior Leo Trindade won a title at 195 pounds, beating Brookline’s Ramesses Akamefula, 8-0. Trindade had a takedown in the first period and another in the third.
Trindade fell short of the title last year, losing in the semifinals.
“It feels amazing, I’ve never felt this way before, winning a big tournament like this,” Trindade said. “This year my work ethic was so much more harder. Ran more, practiced harder, worked with more coaches than actual wrestlers on my team so that helped a lot. Wrestled bigger, stronger guys than me and that’s what prepared me for this tournament.”
Dracut’s Mike Stewart also brought home first-place hardware after beating Danny DelGallo (Gardiner High School in Maine) in a hard-fought, 4-3 match at 138 pounds. Stewart, who didn’t even place in last year’s tournament, was motivated by the fact that he was the underdog against DelGallo.
A month ago, Stewart suffered a knee injury that sidelined him and caused him to lose some stamina.
He wasn’t sure how he would fare Saturday, but after getting the first takedown of the championship match it was his to win, and he did just that.
“Right now there’s nothing better than this, I can’t even describe it,” said the emotional senior. “This year was the hardest year of my life.”
Despite having four wrestlers in the competition, North Andover wasn’t able to win a title.
Senior Ryan Neal, who was undefeated until the state tournament, lost to Bridgewater-Raynham’s Aaron Conrad for the second consecutive time overall in the 182-pound final.
Brad Dover also finished a runner-up, falling to New Fairfield’s Mikey Amorando in a 4-3 match at 160.
“I’m happy for the kids, they all worked hard,” said North Andover assistant coach Von Hoehn. “We wanted to get some kids on the podium and we did. We just have to go back to the gym, keep lifting, and keep drilling. It starts Monday.”