By Dave Dyer
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Plaistow’s Dylan Hughes was all smiles Sunday afternoon, but he was far from the only one happy with his 154-pound title at the middle school division of the Youth New England wrestling Tournament at North Andover High School.
Hughes, an eighth grader at the Timberlane Middle School, was competing for both Timberlane and the Smitty’s Barn wrestling club, so coaches for both teams were ecstatic.
“That’s the story of the tournament as far as I’m concerned,” said Smitty’s head coach Matt Smith.
Seconded Timberlane coach Tim Brown: “He just wrestled out of his mind today. He put it all together.”
What was truly impressive about Hughes’ title was that he was only second in the New Hampshire state meet at 143 pounds and decided to bump up to 154 for New England. He was seeded fourth.
When asked who he felt most allegiance to, Hughes said: “It’s close but probably Smitty’s because I wrestle there more.”
Regardless, both Smith and Brown were plenty happy, and not just about Hughes, who defeated Methuen’s Travis Manick 12-6 in the finals.
Smitty’s Barn had 13 finalists and seven champs in the middle school finals and it won the overall two-day club team title, which include third through sixth grade competition Saturday. It was the third straight New England title for Smitty’s since the tournament began keeping team scores.
Timberlane, meanwhile, had the highest score Sunday of all the middle schools. It had two other finalists, Jacob Post at 169 and Noah Beaulieu at 250, both of whom were runner-up. It also had a fourth at 250 with Dom Vitello.
The title for Timberlane was its first middle school New England title and caps a perfect season after it previously won the Tri-County tournament, the Patriot dual meet tournament, the regional championship and the middle school division state championship.
It was also a tremendous day for the Salem Bulldogs, led by New Hampshire state champ Jared Durkin, who won the 124-pound crown with a pin. Also for Salem, which had a strong showing overall including Saturday’s competition, Riley Millette was runner-up at 74 and Tristen Cabinta was second at 130.
Another local New Hampshire wrestler, Londonderry’s Henry Lagasse was an impressive champion at 188, pinning the Vermont state champion in the finals.
Among the local placers, Haverhill’s Roland Carrasco had an interesting tournament while placing third at 215. He pinned three opponents in the first minute and his only loss came on a fall in the first minute.
In the two-day town competition, Salem finished first. Among its top placers Saturday in the younger grades, Michael Glynn finished first, James Glynn took a second and both Nathan Blanchette and Sterling McLaughlin grabbed thirds. Aiden Williams and Matt Adams had fourths.