Local wrestlers compete at Meet of Champions
DERRY – Thousands of eyes around Hackler Fieldhouse had waited for it for nearly 10 hours.
The 195-pound final at the Meet of Champions between Nashua North’s Joe Chimelski and Concord’s Walters Ndi had everything a main event should. A history between the wrestlers to go with boundless talent by both combatants. But in the short time that Chimelski and Ndi shared the mat they built something closer to a WWE no holds barred match rather than a classic battle of folkstyle wrestling.
Ndi wrangled Chimelski off the mat, and, at one point, tumbling into the stands. In the end Ndi’s countless strikes to Chimelski’s head got him disqualified late in the second period and earned Chimelski his second straight MOC championship.
“I’m honestly surprised it hasn’t been called earlier in the season,” Chimelski said. “What he normally does is he’ll pop you in the face or he’ll take his hand and clock you in the side of the head. It leaves your ears ringing or when he hits you in the nose you’re seeing stars. I don’t know how it’s been legal for this long, but I just kept my composure and he kind of lost it. He’s been wrestling tough guys all day and he’s been able to break them with that pound. With me keeping my composure like that, he’s not used to people keeping calm like that, and it agitated him. I was ready to go another period. I wanted to finish the match, but the refs made the final call.”
Chimelski’s title capped a banner day for the Titans. North finished fourth in the team race with 113 points. Timberlane took yet another team crown with 197.5 points. Fellow senior Marcel Laplante capped his New Hampshire career with a flourish, defeating Pinkerton’s Shayne McCann 5-1 to win the 113-pound title. The Titans almost had a third champion, but Cam Bennett was clipped by Timberlane’s Tim McLinden 5-3 in overtime in the 126-pound final.
Laplante dug in a ride midway through the match that McCann was unable to break.
“It’s a long day,” Laplante said. “We got here at 730 and I wrestled my (finals) match at 6:00. It’s pretty exhausting. Me and a lot of my teammates spent the entire time in the cafeteria. Being in a hot gym, all the noise, the lights; the gym can break you down.”
Laplante and Chimelski capped careers that started years ago back in middle school at Nashua Catholic. The duo worked their way up the ranks of Nashua wrestling and captained the squad this year while also acting as surrogate coaches in the wrestling room.
“He’s been the lightweight. He’s been the fast, technical, very well-balanced wrestler and he’s been working well with our lighter guys to make them better wrestlers.
“I’ve been working with our heavier guys because they’re more used to throws and bludgeoning like that match out there. I think we’ve worked our team really well. I’ve spoken to a lot of my guys, and they said they did a lot better than they thought they would. I was really happy to hear that. I got to see guys beat guys they hadn’t beaten before.”
Another local team having a banner day was Bedford. The Bulldogs placed four on the podium, including two third-place finishers, to rack up a program-best 92 points. Bulldogs coach Robert Benincasa wore an ear-to-ear grin summing up his team’s performance on Saturday.
“Our goal was to do things here that we haven’t done before,” Benincasa said. “Some of the seniors never placed and now they’re topped. Our team goal was to get kids to place, get kids to the finals, which we didn’t wind up doing. The next would be to place as many kids as we could. We placed more this year than any other year.”
Bedford’s Ben Dow showed how much he wanted it at 120 pounds by wrestling back to finish third. After losing to Plymouth’s Greg Waterbury 5-4 in the opening match Dow won five more matches, including a win over Waterbury, to claim third. His last-minute takedown of Concord’s Connor Stadnicki in the third-place match powered him to a 3-1 win.
“That can be a heartbreaker and a lot of kids can decide to go one of two ways: they can feel sorry for themselves and decide to be done or they can say I need to get that back,” Benincasa said. “He had to dig really deep today. Wow, congratulations to him on such a fantastic tournament.”
Chris Connery took a third at 152 pounds and Bobby Heald pinned Salem’s Mike Poulin to pick up a third at 220 pounds.
The other area champion was Nashua South heavyweight Josh Norman. Norman had a pin called against Milford’s Travis Hughes at the end of the second that came after time. Rather than fold, Norman refocused and cruised to a 9-2 win.
“He had a tough one last week,” South coach Adam Langlois said. “We planned for the quarters match against [Memorial’s Clay] Legault and he executed the gameplan perfectly. We just went one after another from there.
“He’s really tough mentally. He beat him twice today. That’s awesome; that’s good for him.”
South’s other place, Wilson Pellot, took a fourth at 160 pounds, losing his placement match to Patrick Sands of Bishop Guertin. For Langlois, who knows both wrestlers well the match was bittersweet.
“It was a coach’s worse nightmare; you got two awesome kids from the same city, two nicer kids who both deserved it,” Langlois said. “I’m happy for Pat Sands. I’m sad for Wilson because he worked hard all year.”
For Sands, the win was the achievement of a dream. By finishing third Sands qualified for next weekend’s New England Championships in Providence, RI. It was the first time Sands had qualified for the regional meet in his fourth and final attempt.
“It’s just crazy,” Sands said. “I’ve been wrestling my whole life and now my senior year to be able to go to New Englands and possibly be able to place it’s just been amazing.”
Guertin had two other placers. Brandon Levesque lost to Timberlane’s Ryan Peters 6-4 in overtime in the 138-pound championship match, and Jordan Rowlett took a fourth at 106 pounds.