After finishing third in the MIAA Division 1 wrestling state tournament this past winter, Andrew Marshall was under the radar as he headed into the New England championships.
Then a junior at Lincoln-Sudbury High, Marshall wasn’t even the top-ranked wrestler at his own school, a status held by Andy Richard, who finished second in the state tournament.
Yet the 5-foot-10-inch Marshall stormed the tournament field at Providence Career and Technical Academy in early March, defeating state champions from Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire to win the New England title in his 195-pound weight class.
“Nobody really expected me to come from placing third in the Div. 1 bracket to winning a New England title,” Marshall said. “Nobody, except me and my coaches.”
A resident of Dorchester, Marshall has boarded a 5:40 a.m. bus to Lincoln as part of the Metco program since he was in kindergarten, and he embraced the challenge of contact sports once he enrolled at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School.
Marshall was a key player on the L-S rugby club that went undefeated en route to a state title in the spring of 2016. On Friday night, he was set to start in the backfield for the Lincoln-Sudbury football team in its Division 2 Super Bowl matchup against King Philip at Gillette Stadium.
While he was excited for the opportunity to play on a grand stage, Marshall found that his true passion is on the mat.
“As a freshman I was just trying to wrestle to have something to do, but I saw that I could be good at it. After the coaches convinced me to try Metro West that offseason, I really committed to the sport and decided this is what I want to do,” Marshall said. “By the time I was going into my junior year, I felt football was a secondary thing to wrestling.”
After going 56-3 on his way to a regional title last spring, Marshall was nationally ranked as the 22nd junior in his weight class, affirming his decision to focus on wrestling. He set school records in takedowns, points, and wins last year and is in position to set a new record for career wins if he can claim at least 43 more victories this season.
Under the guidance of L-S head coach Nick Avery and assistant coach Joel Mode, who both coach Marshall on his club team, Metro West United, the senior hopes to cap his impressive high school career with another great finish.
“[Marshall’s] going to want to make a statement this year, by not just winning, but winning in a dominant fashion,” said Avery, who won a state championship in 2006 in his final year at Foxborough High before becoming a standout at Indiana University.
This year, Marshall will look to overcome the final hurdle that’s eluded him.
In 2016 and 2017, he finished in the top 12 at the National High School Coaches Association wrestling championships, but lost in the “blood round,” so named because the winner of those matches are named All-Americans and the losers are eliminated.
Still, reaching that plateau as a relative newcomer to the sport is an incredible feat.
“[Marshall’s] only wrestled for two years so this level of success is basically unheard of,” Avery said. “For someone his size, he as a very unique combination of athleticism and body control. There’s not many guys in the country that can move like him.”
With Avery and Mode in his corner, Marshall was able to defeat two-time Connecticut state champion Jackson Rheault in overtime and New Hampshire champion Michael Tanguay in double overtime to win a New England title.
He credits his coaches and the rigorous competition on the Metro West circuit with preparing him.
“We’ve practiced those moments so that it’s not going to shock us or rattle us,” Marshall said. “We’re going to do what we need to do to get the win.”
In a high-scoring semifinals bout, Marshall scored a point by taking down a lunging Rheault to earn a sudden victory in overtime.
In the final, Tanguay and Marshall traded points until they forced an ultimate tie-breaker called a “ride out” to determine a winner. Because he scored first in the match, Tanguay was able to choose to be on the bottom of the ride out and all he had to do was escape Marshall’s grasp to win, but the stocky three-sport athlete used his lower-body strength to hang on for 30 seconds.
“It was a scary position, but that’s where the competitor in [Marshall] showed and his drive kicked it into the third gear,” Avery said.
Marshall was all smiles as he recalled hoisting the New England trophy.
“It was one of my best moments I’ve ever had,” Marshall said. “Since I was a freshman, the coaches told me that was the goal I was aiming for and it felt like everything had come full circle from all the work I had put in.”Nate Weitzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.