METHUEN — Confidence can only go so far, but the North Andover wrestling team seems to be taking it to the limit.
The surging Knights (18-2) wrestled aggressively and with confidence throughout last night, thrashing a strong Methuen team, 53-18.
Even with three starters out of the lineup, the North Andover backups wrestled with confidence, no more so than junior 138-pounder Omar Elbetanony, who was filling in for banged-up standout Zane Melillo.
Wrestling against Aaron Labrecque, who was coming off four impressive wins in the Holliston Duals over the weekend, Elbetanony used non-stop motion to prevail, 13-9. Showing a never-quit attack, he scored two points with just one second left at the end of both the first and second periods. Those four points proved to be the difference.
The victory was satisfying for Elbetanony, but he was hardly elated. After all, he expected it.
“I was confident,” he said. “I’ve wrestled for awhile and I’ve had other big matches. You learn to compose yourself.”
Another big win for the Knights from a second-liner came at 182 pounds when Bryan Sabet recorded a pin at 1:04 while rapidly improving 145-pounder Cooper McLeod recorded a 10-1 major decision.
Two huge victories for the Knights came at 285, where Alex Inangelo, trailing 6-0 after two periods and needing to fight off his back twice, turned Methuen heavyweight George DeLeon for a pin with 12 seconds left in the match, and at 106, where Danielle Coughlin pinned Billy Wehring with 20 seconds remaining.
Also recording pins for North Andover were Peter Taylor (113), Dan Villalba (120), Fritz Hoehn (152) and Ryan Neals (195). Brad Drover scored a 12-4 major decision over Gio Rivera, who has enjoyed an excellent season for the Rangers.
“I’m very surprised by this score — I thought it’d be close — but we wrestled well and we won the close ones,” said North Andover coach Carl Cincotta. “That was a great win by Danielle, to get a pin on that kid.”