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.”
For the Rangers (19-3), who were without injured 145-pound standout Jimmy Summa, standouts Christian Monserrat (126) and Paul Sughrue (132) had first-period pins, A.J. Bolduc scored a 4-1 decision at 160 and Mike Golio prevailed at 220, although he had to hang on in desperation against North Andover freshman Owen Rosenberger.
“North Andover wrestled great, and I don’t want to take anything away from them, but that was definitely the worst we’ve wrestled all year,” said Methuen coach Bill James. “It’s disappointing to wrestle like that in a big meet like this.”
Methuen and North Andover will meet again, along with Lawrence and Salem, Saturday at the Methuen Invitational, where defending champion Mount Anthony will be the favorite.
North Andover 53, Methuen 18
106: Danielle Coughlin (NA) pin Billy Wehring 5:40; 113: Peter Taylor (NA) pin Will Wilder 3:34; 120: Dan Villalba (NA) pin Tim Michelini 3:01; 126: Christian Monserrat (M) pin Connor O’Sullivan 3:01; 132: Paul Sughrue (M) pin Nick Villalba 1:05; 138: Omar Elbetanony (NA) dec. Aaron Labrecque 13-9; 145: Cooper McLeod (NA) major dec. Rafael Caceres 10-1; 152: Fritz Howhn (NA) pin Dan Aziz 1:05; 160: A.J. Bolduc (M) dec. Nick Atwood 4-1; 170: Brad Drover (NA) major dec. Gio Rivera 12-4; 182: Bryan Sabet (NA) pin Tom Fitzgerald 1:04; 195: Ryan Neals (NA) pin Alfonzo Palacios :41; 220: Mike Golio (M) dec. Owen Rosenberger 7-6; HVY: Alex Inangelo (NA) pin George DeLeon 5:48
Records: North Andover 18-2, Methuen 19-3
106-pound showdown In what is looking like one of the stronger weight classes in the Merrimack Valley Conference, North Andover senior Danielle Coughlin got her second big win in five days last night, pinning Methuen's standout freshman, Billy Wehring, with 20 seconds left in the match. Wehring entered the match with a 25-2 record and two tournament titles to his credit. But, after a scoreless first period, Coughlin rode Wehring for the entire second period and got a near fall for a 3-0 lead. Wehring narrowed the score to 3-2 in the third before Coughlin got a reverse and the pin to end it. "Getting the pin was the surprise of the meet," said North Andover coach Carl Cincotta.