Jean-Luc Lemieux is having no trouble fitting into a new school and a new system.
The Londonderry junior, a two-time Eagle-Tribune all-star at Pinkerton, transferred to his previous arch-rival after an uncomfortable sophomore season last year and he hasn’t missed a beat.
“He fits right in,” said Londonderry coach Jim Marron. “He’s like one of the guys and he seems to be enjoying himself, having fun.”
Lemieux confirmed just that when asked what it was like to switch from one Mack Plaque school to the other.
“Everyone was okay with it after the first week,” he said. “I guess it’s been kind of fun.”
Lemieux didn’t need to adjust much on the mat and he’s been dominating thus far. His 132-pound title at the Bossi Lowell Holiday Tournament on Monday was his third — and most impressive — tournament title of the year. And, while sporting a 13-0 record, he really hasn’t been seriously tested.
Because of a suspension, Lemieux didn’t wrestled at New England last year, but he seems determined to make amends. “That was a little heartbreaking, but I have two years to make up for it,” he said.
Lemieux certainly made up for his sub-par performance at Lowell as a sophomore, when he finished sixth. He was clearly the class of the 132-pounders at Lowell this week. In five matches, he didn’t give up a single point.
“I’m better at neutral this year and I’m more focused than I was,” said Lemieux.
It certainly looks like Lemieux is focused and Marron believes it.
“He (Lemieux) makes no mistakes,” said Marron. “He understands what he needs to do and just does it.”
Lemieux will certainly be focused on Feb. 5. That’s when the Lancers go to Pinkerton for what should be a terrific dual meet.
Owls using mirrors?
When told at the Bossi Lowell Holiday Tournament that at least one local coach couldn’t believe that Timberlane had beaten both St. John’s Prep and North Andover in dual meets and was undefeated, Owls’ coach Barry Chooljian nodded and said:
“That’s all right, some of these guys (Timberlane assistants) don’t know how we did it either.”
In fact, Timberlane could very well have lost three dual meets by now because their season-opening win over Londonderry was no cakewalk and could have gone the other way. With a freshman at 106, no 113-pounder until Jake Sheehan finally returned from an injury this week and untested youngsters at the upper middle weights, Timberlane has been vulnerable.
Yet, the Owls have found a way to win which is why they’re back on top of the season’s first Fab 5 and will be tough to supplant in the second half of the season.
“I couldn’t ask for a better effort from my guys,” said Chooljian. “I’m just really proud of them.”
However, the Owls will not have an easy path in what is the most balanced Division 1 in New Hampshire in more than a decade. Tough dual meets still remain against Nashua North, Pinkerton and Concord.
Moreover, with a slew of talented individuals, Londonderry will be a serious threat to Timberlane at both the Division 1 meet and the Meet of Champions.
Londonderry, incidentally, will have two tests within a week, wrestling at Manchester Central tonight and hosting Nashua North next Wednesday.
Pentucket’s Josh Wesolowski remembers the first time he faced Haverhill’s Orlando Rojas. He could hardly forget it.
“He pinned me in 14 seconds my freshman year,” said Wesolowski.
“I really didn’t know what I was doing, but since then I wanted to get back at him.”
Wesolowski finally got his chance last week in a dual meet in the best match of the day, at 138 pounds.
After a 2-2 deadlock in the first period, Rojas took control in the second frame for an 8-3 lead heading into the third period. But Wesolowski stormed back for an exciting 12-9 decision.
“It felt good,” said Wesolowski, a recent Eagle-Tribune defensive all-star in football as a junior. “I’m just now getting into good wrestling shape.
“I had a very fun football season, but I was kind of beat up at the end. That made it a tough transition (to wrestling), but I’m getting there.”
Wesolowski was 41-8 last year at 132 pounds and is clearly Pentucket’s top hope for individual postseason honors.
Three days after beating Rojas, he placed first at the Pentucket Tournament.
Odds and ends
The finals of the Bossi Lowell Holiday Tournament Monday proved to be a real showcase for high school wrestling with at least five terrific matches, the highlight being the matchups at 152 and 160 between the Labrie brothers of Exeter West, R.I., Christian and Andrew, (both New England champs) and the Viruet brothers of Springfield Central, Richard and Jonathan. Christian won for the Labrie family while Jonathan prevailed for the Viruets. ...
Most of New England’s top teams were at Lowell, but St. John’s Prep was not and coach Manny Costa has no interest in attending in the future.
“They didn’t treat me or my team very well when we used to go,” explained Costa. “I’d rather go to the Marshfield tournament.” ...
Haverhill’s Reece Millington, still undefeated at 132 pounds, was unable to participate at Lowell because of a skin issue. ... Londonderry had its highest finish in many years at Lowell, finishing fifth, but the Lancers might have placed even higher if Jon Young had made weight the second day.
The first Kings of the Ring will be published next Monday.
Any coaches with strong feelings about their wrestlers are encouraged to email or call me by 6 p.m. Saturday.