Eighteen seconds into the first match of Tuesday’s Division 1 North final, the St. John’s Prep wrestling team seized firm control.
Alex Schaeublin, a 106-pound sophomore from Salem, pinned Methuen’s Dom Gangi, the first of nine takedowns for the Eagles in a 61-18 victory.
But the path to a repeat of its sectional crown was much different. In late February, 2020, Prep edged Shawsheen for the championship in a 10-team field. In the 2021 season shifted to the spring, only Prep and Methuen opted in to the dual meet format.
The host Eagles (15-0) recorded five of their nine pins in the first period against Methuen (9-2).
“We had a good week of practice, so I’m glad they came out fully going for it,” St. John’s Prep coach Manny Costa said. “They were trying to score and put guys away when they had the opportunity.”
Prep forfeited at 113 pounds, for a 6-6 tie, but sophomore Tyler Knox , competing with the confidence of someone ranked 17th in the country at 120, took control, securing a pin at 1:33 of the first period against Jack Stoddard.
“It’s no secret. It’s my top game, that’s what I want to do,” said Knox. “I think that I have one of the best top games this side of the Mississippi, honestly.”
Nick Curley, the defending national champion at 113, scored three takedowns in the first period of their 126-pound match, but could not put away Michael Crowe in the first two minutes. The senior from Burlington escaped and scored a takedown of his own in the second period, for six more points.
At 132, Elias Hajali scored a second-period pin, and at 138, Schaeublin’s older brother, Adam, a junior, a returning state champion, earned a first-period pin.
Rawson Iwanicki, another defending state champion, secured five takedowns in his match at 152. The sophomore captain from Andover displayed relentless tenacity, refusing to slow down.
From there, Prep finished off the match with wins from Jordan Young (160), Cam Cummings (170), Garrett Dunn (182), Dylan Greenstein (195), and Charles Smith (285).
In the dual meet format, with such highly-skilled athletes competing at lower weights, the Eagles knew that they could score a lot of points and race out to an early lead.
“I would assume that every team knows that we’re really good down below, so they know that puts the extra pressure on their guys up top,” said Costa. “On the other side, there’s still a lot of pressure on those guys to perform as well.”
Now the Division 1 North champions wait for their next foe. In the South final, New Bedford hosts Taunton Wednesday night. In the Central, it’s St. John’s Shrewsbury at Needham Wednesday. Minnechaug won the West title, beating Agawam, 54-24.
Division 1 South
Hingham 17, Silver Lake 6 — Charlie Crean put up three goals and two assists to guide the fourth-seeded Harbormen (14-2) to a D1 South quarterfinal win over the 12th-seeded Lakers (9-6).
Division 2 South
Scituate 13, Sandwich 11 — Behind seven goals from senior Patrick DeMatteo and a four-point night from freshman Charlie Hartwell (2 goals, 2 assists), the seventh-seeded Sailors (9-4) edged the second-seeded Blue Knights in the quarterfinal. Scituate will play third-seeded Old Rochester Thursday at 4.
Division 3 South
Cohasset 21, Mashpee 6 — Kevin Krumsiek paced the sixth-seeded Skippers (8-6) with five goals en route to the quarterfinal win.
Division 1 North
Westford 3, Malden 1 — Senior outside hitter Fabian Arnold collected 13 kills, one ace, and one block to help the fifth-seeded Grey Ghosts (12-2) topple the fourth-seeded Golden Tornados in the quarterfinals. Westford Academy will play the Chelmsford-Lowell winner in the D1 North semis on Friday.
Andrew Lin and Steven Sousa also contributed to this story. To report scores, call 617-929-2860/3235 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.