Nine years ago, Haverhill suspended its wrestling program for the 2010-11 season because of a lack of participation.
Under the guidance of 2003 graduate Tim Lawlor, the Hillies have now emerged as one of the state’s top programs.
On Saturday afternoon, the Hillies pinned down their first MIAA Division 1 North title at Methuen High School, racking up 223.5 points, 42 ahead of perennial power St. John’s Prep.
It was a massive margin of victory in a section, that historically, has been loaded with talent, depth, and parity.
“It’s extremely gratifying,” Lawlor said. “The fact that we were able to bring it back so fast . . . it’s an amazing feeling.”
What’s even more remarkable? Haverhill finished the day with just one individual champion, senior 160-pounder Sam Prescott.
“That really showed the depth of our team,” Lawlor said. “All year, it wasn’t just one or two guys. It was really 14 strong.
In a rematch of their Jan. 16 dual meet, Prescott pinned Methuen’s CJ Brown in 3 minutes, 48 seconds in the final. Prescott, who also prevailed in January, 9-2, is the first individual sectional champion in Lawlor’s tenure.
“This time I came out . . . I knew it [would] be my last chance to be a sectional champion,” Prescott said. “I took it to him, worked hard, got some tilts in there, eventually put him on his back and pinned him.”
Nine Hillies placed in the top four to qualify for the Division 1 state meet Friday and Saturday back at Methuen. Four others placed fifth to qualify as alternates, so Haverhill could have 13 wrestlers participating next weekend.
At the Division 2 Metro championship at Woburn High, Milton (204.5) pulled off a stunning upset with a 37-point victory over Burlington. The Wildcats did not have an individual champion, but Alex Caputo (195 pounds), Micah Allen (220), and Ryan McGroarty (285) placed second. MIlton finished eighth, ninth, fourth, and 10th over the past four seasons.
Tri-County edged defending Division 3 Central and state champion Dedham, 198-196, to capture the sectional crown at Wayland High School. The Cougars had four finalists and Patrick Griffin won the 132-pound title.
Central Catholic (D2 North), Wakefield (D3 North), Franklin (D1 Central), Natick (D2 Central), Mansfield (D1 South), North Attleborough (D2 South), and Norton (D3 South) also captured sectional championships.
Beverly will host the Division 2 finals Friday and Saturday while the Division 3 finals are scheduled for Wakefield.
Catholic Memorial 98, St. Peter-Marian 50 — Senior Ayobami Ogungbadero led all scorers with 16 points for the 14th-ranked Knights (13-5).
Scituate 72, Pope John 70 — Senior captain Aiden Sullivan (28 points) converted 13 of his 15 free-throw attempts as the 17th-ranked Sailors (14-2) edged the Tigers in a nonleague matchup in Scituate.
Nauset 51, St. Mary’s 45 — Skyeler Sandison (26 points) powered the Warriors (13-4) to the nonleague win.
Proctor 66, Dexter Southfield 52 — Angelique Ngalakulondi (38 pts, 19 rebs) led the way for the Hornets (18-4).
Bishop Feehan 2, Glastonbury (Conn.) 0 — Junior Rory Geraghty had 23 saves in the shutout performance for the Shamrocks (8-6-3).
Braintree 2, Needham 1 — Sophomore Brady Leslie scored with four minutes remaining to propel the Wamps (10-5-1, 8-3-1) into a first-place tie with Needham (12-6-1, 8-3-1) in the Bay State Conference. The victory also clinched Braintree’s 11th consecutive MIAA tournament berth.
Falmouth 1, Barnstable 1 — Meeting for the final time as nonleague foes in the regular season, the Red Raiders and Clippers skated to a tie at Falmouth Ice Arena. Jack Hamilton scored his first varsity goal for Falmouth (11-5-2) at 5:57 of the second period on the power play, receiving a fortuitous bounce off a Barnstable defenseman. But the Red Raiders (9-5-3) responded at 4:23 of the third, when Brian Frieh cashed in on a calamitous Falmouth turnover in its own zone and broke in uncovered for the equalizer. ‘‘I can’t imagine those two points being worth even more than they already are,’’ Barnstable coach Tim Grace said ahead of the realignment that will pit the Red Raiders and Clippers against one another in a new Cape & Islands League. ‘‘You throw your playbook out and you let the kids go have fun with it,’’ Falmouth coach Paul Moore said of the rivalry. ‘‘The environment was great, Barnstable’s a really good team.’’
Masconomet 5, Newburyport 1 — At Henry Graf Skating Rink, defensemen Fil Scarfo picked up three assists and Andrew Gotts netted his 20th goal of the season as the No. 20 Chieftains (15-1-0) rattled off their 15th straight win.
Oliver Ames 8, Brockton 1 — Senior Max Ward tallied a hat trick as the Tigers rolled past the Boxerts.
Wellesley 2, Newton North 0 — Junior Liam Jenson scored the game-clinching goal for the Raiders (8-7-2) with 1:14 left to play at John Ryan Skating Arena.
Wilmington 3, Wakefield 2 — Junior Joe Hill (1 goal, 1 assist) buried the go-ahead goal with 50 seconds left to lift the Wildcats (5-10) over the Warriors (4-10-2) at Ristuccia Memorial Arena.
Archbishop Williams 6, Falmouth 2 — Senior captain MacKenzie Heath opened and closed scoring for the Bishops, and also delivered an assist in the nonleague win at Falmouth Ice Arena. Archbishop Williams (9-6-1) needs 1 more point to qualify for the Division 2 state tournament. The Bishops led 1-0 before going down 2-1, but responded with five straight goals in the second and third periods to close out Falmouth (10-5-1). MaciKate O'Brien scored twice for Archies, while Kaitlyn Fox scored another and Nicole Hersey added a goal and three assists. Jacqueline Tallino and Maddy Robichaud scored for the Clippers.
Braintree 3, Needham 1 — Junior Delia Lee scored a goal and added an assist for the Wamps (13-4-0).
Masconomet 3, Peabody 2 — With two goals and an assist, senior Abby Gendron became the second player in Chieftains history to tally 100 points. Head coach Ryan Sugar has seen her ability first-hand since her sophomore season and believes the accomplishment is mostly due to the left-winger’s play-making skills. ‘‘She’s a smart, heads-up player who is 100 percent every game,’’ noted Sugar. Masconomet is now 10-4-2 on the season.
Melrose 7, Watertown 1 — Senior Mairead Clark notched two goals for the Red Raiders (11-4-2) at Flynn Memorial Rink.
Nobles 8, Westminster 2 — Sophomore Katie Pyne of Cohasset netted the hat trick for the Bulldogs (19-0-5).
Ursuline 7, North Quincy/Quincy 1 — Junior Bridget Popkin notched a hat trick to lead the way as the Bears (8-7-3) qualified for MIAA tournament play.
Westwood 1, Norwood 1 — Freshman defender Caeli Reed potted the equalizer for Norwood (7-7-4) in Tri-Valley League play against the seventh-ranked Wolverines (12-1-4).
Jake Levin reported from Falmouth. To report scores, call 617-929-2860/3235 or email email@example.com.