St. John’s Prep opened Wednesday’s Division 1 state dual meet championship with a pin from Garrett Dunn at 182 pounds and closed out their dominant 63-9 victory over New Bedford with another from Cam Cummings at 170.
And with their perfect 17-0 finish in an unprecedented spring wrestling campaign, the Eagles presented coach Manny Costa with his 778th career victory, one ahead of Melrose coach Larry Tremblay, for the most in state history.
It was the first MIAA dual meet title for Costa, and his fourth championship overall. The MIAA opted for the dual meet format, rather than individual, in the pandemic-altered 2021 season.
“To us, this is the state final, the team,” he said. “The individual, yeah, if you have a few really good guys, you could win the individual tournament, but you have to have a team to win a dual meet. To me, this is what wrestling is.”
This was the final high school match for the four senior Eagles who graduated over a month ago. Captain Nick Curley (126 pounds), who won a national championship during his spring break, now adds a state championship during summer vacation after winning his last match, 6-0.
“They wanted to go out with a state title and, in all honesty, they wanted me to get that first MIAA one as well, so they stayed solid,” Costa said.
The match began at 182, which meant junior captain Adam Schaeublin did not wrestle as early as the 138-pound weight class athlete typically does. After Dunn, host Prep recorded three straight wins at 195, 220, and 285.
“Just to see some of them, especially those older guys and the heavier guys, come through for us and basically win us a state title, it was actually really cool to see,” Schaeublin said.
Along with his four state titles, Costa’s squads have finished as the runners-up 14 times, the winning resume of a Massachusetts wrestling dynasty.
“We’ve been good for a long time,” Costa said, surrounded by his team with Prep alumni in the stands. “These guys kept the tradition alive, and I’m just proud.”
The other winners for Prep were Dylan Greenstein (195), Zach Richardson (220), Charlie Smith (285), Tyler Knox (120), Elias Hajali (132), Rawson Iwanicki (152), and Jordan Young (160).
Jizaiah Lopes won at 145 for New Bedford (11-1-1).
Division 1 State
Needham 3, Westford 0 — The top-ranked Rockets (21-0) continued their season-long run of dominance with a convincing 25-10, 25-14, 25-19 semifinal victory over the North champion Grey Ghosts (14-3). Needham has yet to lose a set this spring.
“We’re pretty balanced. So I think when we’re pretty balanced at a high level, we can keep the other team guessing defensively [and] blocking,” coach Dave Powell said. “We try to serve tough and establish a presence blocking, and it’s going all right.”
Needham opened with an explosive first set, taking a 15-4 lead as the Grey Ghosts struggled with unforced errors. Westford gradually found its footing, but Needham never relented, taking the next two sets.
“It definitely felt like we were poised from the outset,” Powell said. “Then [Westford] started getting in a rhythm and I was glad with the way we responded.”
Captains Ben Putnam and Owen Fanning wreaked havoc. Putnam, a junior, racked up 12 kills, 11 digs, and one ace. The senior Fanning logged 11 kills, three digs, and an ace, often going toe-to-toe with Westford’s Fabian Arnold on the right side.
“It’s awesome having fans here; I think it’s a pretty big advantage for us,” Fanning said. “It definitely gives us a huge boost, and we try not to take it too seriously. We have fun, and that’s how we came out.”
Needham will host Central champion Lincoln-Sudbury (13-8) in Friday’s state final at 4 p.m.
Ethan Fuller reported from Needham.
Ethan McDowell can be reached at email@example.com.