EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 15, 2013

King of the Andovers

North Andover flexes muscles while avoiding individual showdowns

NORTH ANDOVER — Well, at least one thing was cleared up yesterday afternoon at North Andover High School.

Thanks partly to superior depth, the host Knights are the cream of the crop among the four teams in the first-ever “Battle of the Andovers,” handily defeating up-and-coming Brooks, 52-29, in the featured match of the day.

Unfortunately, in the debate about who are the premier upper middle-weight wrestlers in New England, there was no resolution.

North Andover features top New England public school placers Fritz Hoehn (152/160) and Brad Drover (170/182) while Brooks boasts New England prep champ Andrew Konovalchik (160/170) and equally talented Nate Gibeley (170).

The hope was that at least two of the superstars would clash but, because of the top priority for North Andover coach Carl Cincotta, it never happened.

“It would have been great to see it, but my job is to win dual meets,” said Cincotta. “I have confidence in my kids, but I couldn’t risk it. We wanted to make sure we won the meet.”

As a result, by clever maneuvering, Hoehn and Drover recorded pins at 160 and 195, respectively, for the Knights while Konovalchik and Gibeley pinned their opponents at 170 and 182.

“I understand his strategy — probably most coaches would do the same thing,” said Brooks coach Alex Konovalchik, whose club opened the day with a 43-30 victory over Phillips Academy and whipped Andover in the nightcap.

Missing two starters, Brooks only won three other matches against North Andover as freshman Nick Konovalchik (145), Jake Gottfried (220) and Tommy Connelly (285) all recorded pins.

“It’s a little disappointing, and we would have loved to have seen those big matchups, but this was still a terrific event and a great experience,” said coach Konovalchik.

North Andover, which had little trouble disposing of Andover (63-3) and Phillips (51-24) in its other matches, had two swing wins that widened its margin of victory.

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