Merrimack matmen hit The Big Apple

The Lowell (Mass.) Holiday Tournament is a premiere event, one that wrestling programs from all over the Northeast flock to in the days after Christmas.

Different strokes for different folks, right?

Merrimack coach Tim McMahon chose a bit of a more elaborate plan for his holiday break as the Tomahawks, instead of two days in Lowell, hit New York City and then competed in the Northport (N.Y.) Holiday Duals, taking second overall against solid competition.

With a little help from the boosters, the team took in the sights and sounds of the Big Apple, tourning places like the 9/11 Memorial, Times Square, Madison Square Garden and Rockefeller Center.

“We often tell the kids and the parents that wrestling for Merrimack is about far more than just winning,” said McMahon. “Winning is great, and it’s certainly important, but winning is not what makes kids come back to the program and contribute their time, money and support years after they’ve graduated.

“We believe that what makes our athletes and their families want to be connected to the program long after they’ve graduated is the experience we helped to create for them while they were with us.”

All 29 wrestlers in the program made the trip in the team-building event, getting at least three to four matches. More importantly, the athletes and their families forged bonds of friendship and camaraderie that McMahon hopes will live on through the years.

“Not every kid is going to be a state champ, but every kid can certainly be given the opportunity to look back on their time with us and feel like it had an impact on their life,” said McMahon. “Some of that comes from winning the big match, but alot of it comes from the relationships they build both in battle as well as simply from having fun together.”

Along with the highlights in NYC, the Tomahawks got some solid work in mat-wise, winning three straight duals before falling to the host team in the finals.

Some highlights from the event:

Freshman Anson Dewar (126) went 4-0 on the day while remaining undefeated this season. …

Senior Captains Julien Hovan and Dom Damata both went 4-0 on the day. …

First-year wrestler, Andrew Martel (106) got his first career win and pin against St. Anthony’s High School. …

Freshman Molly Brody got her 2nd career win (and pin) at 113 against St. Anthony’s. …

First-year wrestler, Dylan Crawford (senior at 195) battled through four matches after having only been on the team for a week.

Freshman Gabriel Victal (first-year wrestler) and sophomore Sid Dhanaraj (4-0 on the day) were selected as Merrimack’s Most Valuable Wrestlers of the meet.

Looking ahead

While several of the region’s teams hit the “Invitational” trail Saturday and South hosting the Hall of Fame Tournament, mat elitists might be focusing on Alvirne High School, where Bishop Guertin and the beast that is Timberlane Regional come to Hudson.

Alvirne’s Kyle Gora, 16-1 and third at Lowell, could face a stiff test at 160 from Timberlane’s Justin Berube, who was second in the Holidays. The two did not meet there. Cam McClure was Alvirne’s other placer at Lowell and he’ll be ready for bear.

BG features a pair of Lowell placers in Jesse Brochu and Dan Franco.

Meanwhile, Timberlane will be bringing a star-studded roster with the likes of Lowell 132-pound champ Connor McGonagle, Berube and a half-dozen other Lowell placers.