Milford senior earns trip to NEs
By Hector Longo
NASHUA – The from the moment Ricky DeBernardo traded in his football helmet for wrestling head gear in November was simple.
Spend the first weekend in March in Providence. Not as a tourist or just a fan of high school wrestling.
Last Saturday at the New Hampshire Meet of Champions, the Milford High senior accomplished just that, taking third place in the rugged 160-pound class.
The reigning Granite State Division II state champ, DeBernardo will close out his high school career at the New England Championships, the lone Milford wrestler headed on the trip.
Action there begins Friday night and then runs into the next day, until 14 New England champs, one per weight class, are crowned.
Getting there was a battle, and DeBernardo’s grit shown through all day in the tournament at Nashua South High.
The Castleton State-bound future nursing student opened his day with a tough, third-period pin over Plymouth’s Alex Hall, the Division II runner-up.
Next up was Alvirne freshman Kyle Gora in the semis. Gora, the Division I runner-up, won a national title last spring and his only setbacks this winter in-state at 160 have been to three-time Division I champ Tristen Cabinta of Salem.
Gora wouldn’t be denied, stopping DeBernardo in the opening period.
That meant Ricky couldn’t lose again.
And the Spartan delivered.
First, he pinned Campbell’s Alex Ladd, setting up a showdown with the No. 3 wrestler in Division I, Dylan Hughes of Timberlane Regional.
Hughes is a tough customer, and took it to DeBernardo early.
“I have been wrestling well,” said DeBernardo before the MOC. “I know I have to be at my best.”
The Milford star would not be denied his dream.
He caught Hughes and squeezed him hard to the mat for his third pin win of the day, late in the second period. An elated DeBernardo celebrated with his coaches. his ticket punched for New Englands.