Sports

Feeling pretty good

Thursday, February 23, 2012

By JOE MARCHILENA

Staff Writer

MERRIMACK – Brian Bumpus spent the better part of Saturday’s Division II wrestling meet with one eye on his Hollis Brookline High School wrestlers and one eye on Milford’s wrestlers.

Going into the consolation semifinals at Merrimack High School, Bumpus’ Cavaliers held a 12½ point lead over the Spartans. But with those matches, plus the medal rounds, to go, HB had 11 wrestlers still going, while Milford had 12. The teams also had five head-to-head matchups coming up, including two in the finals.

Ultimately, it came down to the first of those two finals matchups, which the Cavs won, and when HB’s 220-pounder took fifth, Bumpus knew his team could rest easy.

“I was watching my guys and I was watching the Milford guys,” he said. “I had guys going to check scores and get results of matches. I was adding scores the whole time. When our 220 (pounder) won, I knew it was over.”

Even if Milford’s Andrew Bellantoni had pinned HB’s Zach Migneault in the 285 final, the Cavs still would have won by one point. Bellantoni did win, scoring a single point in the third period to win 1-0, but it was HB that took the team title, beating Milford 194-191.

“Can you imagine?” Milford coach and Division II Wrestling Coach of the Year Dana Bourassa said of the final margin. “Congratulations to Hollis. I couldn’t be happier with our guys. I don’t feel like we lost the gold; I feel like we won the silver.

“Every kid on our team worked as hard as they could, not just today, but all year long. Its athletic competition and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but we didn’t lose.”

Goffstown, last year’s champion, finished third with 163½ points while Merrimack took fourth with 159 and Bedford came in fifth with 147. Alvirne took eighth, scoring 99 points, while Souhegan came in 10th with 45.

Joining Bellantoni as a champion was teammate Joe Albina, who pinned Alvirne’s Patrick Morse at 3:10 to win the 170 title.

The match that tipped the title in HB’s favor came at 182 pounds, where Nate Ashe pulled out a 2-1 decision over Milford’s Andrew Myers, who reached the final by upsetting the No. 1 seed.

“In tournaments, you wrestle up to or above your seed, you had a great day,” Bourassa said. “Did he want to win? Sure, he did.”

When Bumpus saw Ashe come out on top, he knew his team’s chances were pretty good.

“Huge win,” he said. “That put us over. That was a huge head-to-head win. For him to go out and beat him, that pretty much sealed it for us.”

Casey Quinn (the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler) won his second straight title at 160, pinning Winnacunnet’s Mike Belanger at 1:56. The Cavs also got second-place finishes from Migneault and Zach McPherson (120).

Merrimack got a win at 132, as Zach Cronin defeated Goffstown’s Damin Rakhmanov, 9-8, to win the title, while Elias Kim (145) finished second. Souhegan’s Cameron Crook was also a champion, taking home the 220 title by beating Con-Val’s Alex Hautanen 3-1.

Alvirne had three wrestlers take second – Morse (170), Joshua Metivier (126) and John Roark (152).

HB had two wrestlers place third, Jonathan Lopez (106) and Zach Jennings (145), while Ryan Alquist (126) and Jake McPherson (138) came in fourth and Austin Bumpus (170) and Hunter Longland (220) were fifth.

Milford got third-place finishes from Connor Borne (152), Tyler Keating (195) and Jordan Gaudette (220). Rueben Carson (120) and Scott Dannewitz (160) were fourth while JT Bellantoni (106), Thomas Scannell (126) and Joe Pelliteri (145) came in fifth.

Merrimack’s Brandon Dine (126) came in third, while fourth-place finishers were Ben Cronin (106), Kyle Heibreder (170, Zachary Pickard (220) and Nick Klaver (285). Billy Leblanc (120) and RJ Content (182) both came in fifth for the Tomahawks.

Alvirne got a fourth from Stephen Lichtenberg (195) while Brendan Smith (132) and Michael Meli (138) both came in fifth.

The top five from each weight class will advance to the Meet of Champions, which will be held Feb. 25 at Londonderry High School.

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