BEVERLY — On a day when most matches went as predicted, Central Catholic's Ben Tavitian pulled off the biggest upset.
Seeded third entering the Division 2 North Sectional, the Raider senior was last night's only winner not seeded either first or second. While he might not have been considered a pre-meet favorite, Tavitian breezed into the finals, needing fewer than three minutes to record a pair of pins and earn a spot in the title match. There he posted his third fall of the day in 2:34 over top-seeded Peter Salem of Dracut.
"I expected to place, but not much more than that," said the 220-pounder after running his record to 31-10. "I was thinking there might be a chance I could win if I worked hard and everything and stuck to my guns. In the end, it was just how hard I wanted to work. I guess I'll have a better seed going into (the Division 2 state tournament). I can't wait."
Defending Division 2 dual-meet state champion North Andover won three of its six championship matches and advanced nine to next week's state tournament, but the Scarlet Knights finished second in the team scoring. Winchester earned the North's top seed for the state dual meet in two weeks, finishing first with 247.5 points — nine more than North Andover. Dracut (186.5) and Central Catholic (159.5) were the other two teams to advance.
Winning championships for North Andover were freshman Fritz Hoehn, who went 4-0 at 138 pounds with two pins and two technical falls; senior Danny Connolly, who was 3-0 en route to the 160-pound title; and junior Ryan Neals, who won all four of his 182-pound matches. Zane Melillo (132), Jason Ricketts (152) and John Pollard (195) finished second.
"In those last two matches (Neals and Pollard), we needed a pin and a win to win the team title," said a disappointed North Andover coach Carl Cincotta. "It was not as good as I'd have liked. It would have been nice to at least have gotten one more (champion). It was OK. We took second in the section. We'll see (Winchester) hopefully in the dual meet. Hopefully in the state final."