Friendly Rivals

Wrestlers host 25th Milford-Souhegan Invitational

AMHERST – With Souhegan High School in its infancy dur­ing the early 1990s, Bill Dod and Dana Bourassa wanted a reason to get Milford and Amherst stu­dents together for some friendly competition.

A quarter century later, the tradition is still going strong.

Eleven wrestling teams from around New England flocked to Souhegan High School on Satur­day for the 25th annual Milford- Souhegan Invitational.

"Bill Dod and I started this when the school split for a sportsmanship kind of a day, and that’s exactly what it is," said Bourassa, who is starting his 40th year as Milford wres­tling head coach. "There was a lot of good sportsmanship here today, and I’m just very happy about the entire experience."

Milford co-coach Jeff Sellars, entering his fifth season along­side Bourassa, was instrumen­tal in the orchestrating the tour­nament with the help of host Souhegan.

"We had the mats here early Friday. It worked well," first-year Souhegan coach Alex Pit­tera said. "(Sellars) did a great job running it. There were no hiccups. It was smooth all day."

Winchester (Mass.) took first place with 201 points, followed by Coventry (177), Merrimack (122), Milford (109), Manchester Central (97), Winnacunnet (91), White Mountains (86), Manches­ter Memorial (47), Manchester West (46), Nashua North (35), Souhegan (22) and Wilton (16).

George Horta claimed the 182-pound championship with a pin of White Mountains’ Jared Cape in the second period of the final. Horta scored a 37-second pin in his first match before a 13-4 major decision in the semi­finals.

"It’s a lot of stress because you really want to do well, but also there’s a ton of other peo­ple who have the exact same thing in mind. … You have to be humble," said Horta, who en­joyed his day at the tournament. "We’re very good friends with Souhegan. It’s fun off the mat."

Souhegan freshman James Raiser impressed the home crowd with a second-place fin­ish at 106 pounds, falling to Win­chester’s Scott Downs in a 17-2 major decision in the final.

"We had one of our freshman guys in the finals place second, which is awesome," Pittera said. "We wrestled hard, we fought back. We had a lot of people fight­ing off their back the whole time.

They were pushing to the end, that’s what you want. You went the kids to give all their heart. It’s a young team. That’s all you can ask for.

For Milford, Dominic Goulette settled for second after dropping a 2-0 overtime decision to Merrimack’s Dom Damata in the 195-pound cham­pionship. Fellow Spartan Tyler Dei­hle took runner-up honors at 220 pounds after being pinned by Man­chester Memorial’s Austin Eaton in the second period of the final.

Kyle Faucher-Clancy claimed third place for the Spartans at 170 pounds, and Maverick Dodier fin­ished fourth at 152.

"I’m very happy with the way our kids are performing in practice," Bourassa said. "They’re able to transfer what we teach in practice onto the mat in competition. Both Jeff Sellars and I are both very happy with them."

Among other area teams, Nashua North’s Wayne Nolette was domi­nant in a 25-second pin of Winnacun­net’s Tyler Mallet in the 145-pound final, while Merrimack finished as the top New Hampshire squad at the tournament with three cham­pions – Julien Hovan (138 pounds), Damata (195) and Chad Mason (285).

Hovan’s route to victory was nearly as fast as Nolette, as the Tomahawks’ 138-pounder pinned Coventry’s Noah Young in 34 sec­onds. Merrimack’s Brendan Parr too third in the same weight class. Mason won by fall over Winnacun­net’s James Phennicie in the heavy­weight title match.

Merrimack also received a third-place showing from Andy Almonte at 120 pounds, while Jon Torres claimed fourth at 113 after a pin by Wilton third-place finisher Rudy Schnare.