A trophy in hand and a 34-0-1 record under its belt, the St. John’s Prep wrestling team boarded the bus back to Danvers joyously singing “Feliz Navidad.”
A quirky celebration for sure, but the kind that makes a team a team. And after topping West Springfield, 41-17, to claim the State Coaches Division 1 Dual championship Saturday at Westford Academy, the Eagles proved there’s no team better team in the state.
“We look forward to the duals every year. It’s the quintessential of a team,” St. John’s Prep coach Manny Costa said. “All 14 guys get to go, everyone gets to weigh in, they’re all part of this. Everybody is happier when you’re winning dual meets. This is what we peak for.”
Key pins from Alec Runnals (126 pounds) and Jordan Young (145) set the tone early from Prep, which padded a comfortable cushion early in the finals.
Rawson Iwinicki (138) and Owen Gaffney (195) also earned pins for the Eagles. Senior captain Achilles Gikas took a 9-0 victory at 160, while Adam Schaeublin (106), Matt Mitchell (152) and Marty Roach (170) also picked up wins for the Eagles.
West Springfield’s Tyler Parent earned a pin at 220 while the Terriers also received wins from Calvin Curtis at 132, Milton Vasquez at 182 and Jadin Andino at 285.
Prep topped Framingham (68-4) and Springfield Central (38-24), avenging last year’s finals loss, to reach the championship. It had already edged out West Springfield, 35-33, earlier in the season. West pinned Chelmsford and Franklin to reach the finals.
The Eagles’ last undefeated run came in 2015, the last time it won the state duals.
“It’s awesome,” said Gikas before sharing a long embrace with senior co-captain Quinn Alexander. “It’s great to be a part of this team; it’s great to have such good friends on this team and it’s great to have such an amazing coach. Glad that I could be a part of it.”
Added Alexander, “It’s amazing. It means were unbeatable.”
Central 3-peats in D2
For the third consecutive year, Central Catholic captured the Division 2 championship, stopping North Attleborough, 42-33, in the final at North Andover.
The top-seeded Raiders (22-2) knocked off second-seeded North Attleborough (29-4) for the second year in a row. And with the postseason beginning next Saturday, Central Catholic is poised to defend its Division 2 North and state titles.
“I said, ‘This is the level you guys should be at,’ ” Central Catholic coach Jamie Durkin said. “Even the guys who have been not so consistent for us.”
Central Catholic opened an early 15-0 lead thanks to pins from Jackie Dehney (126 pounds) and Stephen Donovan (132), and a 2-1 win from Mike Glynn over Plymouth South’s Lucas Pinzino. Glynn and Pinzino are considered two of the best 138-pounders in the state, and could potentially wrestle again in the D2 state tournament Feb. 21 and 22. Glynn scored a first-period takedown and Pinzino gained an escape after starting the third period in the bottom position, but Glynn held off his attacks.
“The kid’s a good scrambler, so some of my attacks didn’t work, but I just did my best to stick to my attacks,” Glynn said.
The Raiders also received pins from Sean Finneran (170), Owen Buffagna (182), Owen Mears (220), and Jimmy Glynn (113). Matt Shaw (152) scored a 9-2 decision over Plymouth South’s Lucas Coppola.
After a first-round bye in the 15-team tournament, the Raiders defeated Milford (49-22) in the quarterfinals and Nashoba Regional (57-21) in the semis. Plymouth South downed Dracut (27-15) in the first round, Danvers (62-18) in the quarterfinals, and North Attleborough (45-28) in the semifinals. North Attleborough took third place as Nashoba forfeited the third-place dual following its semifinals loss to Central Catholic.
A Melrose reversal
At Ashland High, Melrose stopped Middlesex League rival Wakefield, 38-28, for the Division 3 championship. It was a reversal for the Red Raiders (21-2), who lost to Wakefield, 39-32, on Wednesday night for the Middlesex Freedom title. Norton beat Holliston, 39-37, for third place, and the host Clockers topped Tri-County, 40-35, for fifth.
Stephen Fogarty Jr., the son of the Melrose athletic director, clinched the win for the Red Raiders (21-2) with a pin at 126 pounds, the final match of the dual.
The difference between Wednesday and Saturday’s final? The ability of Melrose to stay off its collective back, yielding one pin compared with four early in the week. Wakefield’s only win via pin came at 170, and the Warriors were docked a team point for excessive celebration.
“We stayed off our back, made some adjustments in practice Thursday and Friday and did some different drills,” said Melrose coach Larry Tremblay, who coached Winchester to a Division 2 duals title in 2015 when current Wakefield coach Ross Ickes was his assistant.
Melrose’s Matt Hickey was also a difference maker; he won via pin at 220 Saturday, giving the Red Raiders an extra three points from his win via decision against the same opponent Wednesday.
Melrose defeated Foxborough, 63-18, in the quarterfinals and Holliston, 45-30, in the semifinals.
Brandon Chase contributed from North Andover.