Timberlane senior Tyler Fitzpatrick has outdone himself.
As an 88-pound freshman, Fitzpatrick’s vision of his future with the Owls was clear cut.
“I always felt I’d be a senior 103-pounder,” he said.
Well, the weight class was changed to 106 the next year and he was already in the lineup on a semi-regular basis, compiling a 30-10 record, many of his matches coming with the Timberlane B team.
Last year, he was a big 106-pounder and mastered the weight class, going 45-6 as a Division 1 state champion. This year, he grew so much that he moved up two weight classes, to 120.
But guess what? Fitzpatrick is enjoying comparable success at the heavier weight. He’ll bring a 37-5 record that’s included two tournament titles into the state tournament this weekend.
“The guys I’m wrestling are stronger but I’m still able to wrestle my match the way I want to,” said Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick’s style involves non-stop motion, attention to technique and focusing on not making mistakes. He’s effective on the bottom and relentless on the top.
“Tyler is one of the hardest workers we’ve ever had and has had a great career,” said Timberlane coach Barry Chooljian. “And he’s turned into a great leader.”
Fitzpatrick took up wrestling as a sixth grader weighing a robust 59 pounds as a conditioning tool for football. But he quickly realized that the mat was more for him than the gridiron and he became a one-sport wonder, working out at The Barn in Danville that very first year.
Although Fitzpatrick didn’t win his first tournament until he was an eighth grader, he was growing and starting to turn heads.
I remember going to a Timberlane dual meet my freshman year, and Chooljian pointed to him in a JV match and said: “Look at my little guy out there. He’s exciting and he’s going to be a good one.”
That prophecy has been fulfilled already, but Fitzpatrick wants to take it a step further this year. After winning a state title, he was only 3-2 at New England last year and missed placing by one match.
“I want to be a state champ again and I definitely want to do better at New England and then place at nationals,” he said.
Beyond that, while studying criminal justice and/or pre-law, Fitzpatrick wants to continue wrestling in college and he has a number of schools interested in his services.
It’s quite a rise for someone who weighed 88 pounds as a freshman, but it’s a good lesson for one and all.
“It’s showed me that when you put your mind to something, you can achieve it,” he said. “Even being small, there’s always a way to accomplish something.”
Ferris bounces back
It’s been a tough season for the young Andover team in the Merrimack Valley Conference, but things looked up late in the season.
The Warriors won their first meet in two years, defeating Peabody. Some of the younger wrestlers, like freshman Nate Dykstra, have shown considerable improvement and — most of all — Tyler Ferris joined the lineup.
Ferris, a junior, was one of the few returnees from last year who had a winning record (12-10 at 120), but a shoulder injury in football kept him out of the lineup for the first two months of the season.
Once he came back, Ferris wrestled like was unleashing eight weeks of frustration, winning his first seven matches at 126 pounds and entering the Division 1 sectional with a 9-1 record. He finished fourth at the sectional to qualify for this weekend’s state meet.
“I was in pretty good condition and confident I’d do well,” said Ferris. “My goal this year was to place at state.”
Although it was frustrating to watch his teammates struggle with him on the sideline, Ferris believes the program under first-year coach Brian Caldwell is on the upswing.
“I think we’ve improved toughness-wise over last year,” said Ferris, who began wrestling as a seventh grader in Dracut. “I don’t think some of the kids were really into it last year, but everyone’s together now.”
Congrats to Haverhill
Haverhill deserves lots of credit for, in its third year since bringing back the program, winning the MVC Small School Division and finishing with an impressive record of 19-7.
The Hillies boasted one of the strongest heavy weight lineups in the state with sectional champion Luc Chretien, Jordan Faulkner, Samie Al-Ziab and Matt Haskell. Also, they had a strong one-two punch at 132 and 138 with Reece Millington and Orlando Rojas.
Although the schedule was a little soft, head coach Brian Urquhart did a masterful job of juggling his lineup to win almost every meet that was winnable and the Hillies did enjoy a couple of victories against bigger squads, the most notable being a 41-33 win over Central Catholic on Jan. 18.
On that same day, Haverhill had an interesting 42-40 win over Billerica, winning seven weights by pins or forfeits and losing six by pins or forfeits and a seventh by a major decision.
With a few more wrestlers added to the lineup, via Mickey Lawlor’s youth program, and some recruiting of athletic non-wrestlers in school, the Hillies might be able to compete with all of the big boys in the near future.
MIAA tourney change
Mainly due to the persistence of coaches, there will be scoring at the All-State Meet (at Lowell’s Tsongas Center this year, Feb. 29) for the first time.
In fact, there was scoring at all of the sectionals and there will be at all divisional state meets as well. Then, the two teams with the highest number of team points at all the tournaments will be crowned Team Tournament Sectional/State/All-State Champion. There will also be a runner-up.
It’s a bit unusual but it should crown teams that have both standout individuals and a strong overall lineup.
WRESTLING FAB 5 The Eagle-Tribune's weekly ranking of area high school wrestling teams: TEAM RECORD 1. Timberlane 25-0 2. North Andover 25-3 3. Londonderry 18-1 4. Brooks 18-1 5. N. Reading/ Lynnfield 24-1 Honorable mention: Lawrence (15-7), Methuen (19-6), Windham (20-3)