EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 15, 2013

King of the Andovers

North Andover flexes muscles while avoiding individual showdowns

By Dave Dyer

---- — 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.

At 126, in the first match of the day, Dan Villalba recovered from an early deficit to defeat David Crosby with an 18-10 major decision while, at 152, Omar Elbetnatony pinned Brooks senior Jun Yabucki with only 21 seconds remaining after trailing the entire match.

Picking up pins in the first minute of the first period for the Knights were Nick Cincotta (132) and Nick Villalba (138).

“It was good to get the wins, but we need to get in better shape,” said coach Cincotta. “We can do better.”

Having won the bragging rights for the Andover-North Andover area, the Knights will try to reign supreme for the whole region Dec. 27 when it hosts Timberlane at 7 p.m.

Battle of the Andovers

Team scores: North Andover 52, Brooks 29; North Andover 63, Andover 3; North Andover 51, Phillip

s 24; Brooks 43, Phillips 30; Brooks 78, Andover 0; Phillips 72, Andover 12

North Andover vs. Brooks:

106: Jack Perry (NA) by forfeit; 113: Stephen Manning (NA) pin Tom Caron 3:12; 120: Peter Taylor (NA) pin Andrew Ginsburg; 126: Dan Villalba (NA) major dec. David Crosby 18-10; 132: Nick Cincotta (NA) pin Jacob Hesse :59; 138: Nick Villalba (NA) pin Kevin Barry :29; 145: Nick Konovalchik (B) pin Cooper McLeod 3:19;

152: Omar Elbetnatony (NA) pin Jun Yabucki 5:39; 160: Fritz Hoehn (NA) pin Chris Cervizzi 1:53; 170: Andrew Konovalchik (B) pin Nick Allard 1:53; 182: Nate Gibeley (B) pin Matthew Messina :48; 195: Brad Drover (NA) pin Geoff Fulgione; 220: Jake Gottfried (B) pin Max Deluca 3:52; HVY: Tommy Connelly (B) pin Jon Ortega :59

Records: Andover 0-3, Brooks 4-1, North Andover 3-0, Phillips 2-3