---- — The time to wrestle on the biggest stage yet, in the national spotlight, has arrived for a number of local wrestlers.
Wrestling in the high school nationals, which takes place in Virginia Beach Friday through Sunday for standout wrestlers of every grade, is an exciting time.
And it’s also a great opportunity.
For seniors interested in wrestling in college who haven’t yet made a decision, it’s a chance to be seen, with possible recruiting interest to follow immediately. For underclassmen, it’s an opportunity to peak interest for future years.
North Andover’s Brad Drover falls in the first category. Following a banner season in which he finished 53-0 and won the 170-pound New England title, Drover has already drawn considerable interest.
Drover has visited Division 3 Johnson and Wales and, following nationals, he has visits planned for Division 1 Edinboro and Division 2 Upper Iowa. But he’s keeping an open mind, based on how he does this week.
”I’m hoping schools reach out to me after nationals, especially Division 1 schools,” said Drover. “I’m going there to win it, but I just want to do the best I can and become an All-American (top 8).”
Drover is in a tough weight class that features five two-time state champions including rugged Austin Repp (Missouri) and Cale Wilson (Oklahoma).
Drover isn’t the only local unbeaten New England champion who will be competing at senior nationals this week, but Methuen’s Christian Monserrat (57-0) will be mainly vying to just finish as high as possible. He’s already committed to West Virginia University.
Monserrat is slated to wrestle down a weight class at 132. That could make him particularly tough, but that weight includes two other four-time state champs in Dusty Hone (Utah) and Trevor Scherner (La.).
A pair of Lawrence seniors, New England placer Anfernee Green and heavyweight Alex Lopez, both of whom might wind up at Springfield Tech, could also generate increased interest with a fine showing as could Timberlane’s Tyler Fitzpatrick.
Pinkerton’s Kevin Ell, a New England placer at 220, will also be competing (at 195), but he’s committed to wrestle at Plymouth State. Nashua North’s Joe Chemelski, a New England champ, is also entered at 195.
Several local wrestlers should fare well at the junior class level, led by Londonderry’s Jean-Luc Lemeiux. The 132-pound New England champion, who was a school-record 50-0, is planning on competing at 126 pounds at junior nationals.
Also, St. John’s Prep’s Ian Butterbrodt must be considered a factor at 220. The North Andover nationals finished fifth at sophomore nationals last year and brings a state-record 63-0 mark into the competition.
Timberlane’s Ryan Peters, who was third in New England at 138 and boasts a 48-3 mark, heads the locals at the sophomore nationals.
Wrestlers who advance to Sunday’s medal round will be automatic All-Americans.
Locals at nationals
Brooks — Nick Konovalchik (Frosh., 145)
Lawrence — Anfernee Green (Sr., 132); Alex Lopez (Sr., 285)
Londonderry — Mitch Rose (Sr., 120); Jean-Luc Lemieux (Jr., 126); Richard Bilodeau (Jr., 170)
Methuen — Christian Monserrat (Sr., 132)
North Andover — Brad Drover (Sr., 170); Fritz Hoehn (Jr., 160)
Pinkerton — Shayne McCann (Frosh., 113); Dylan Barreiro (Soph., 170); Kevin Ell (Sr., 195)
St. John’s Prep — Ian Butterbrodt (Jr., 220)
Timberlane — Tyler Fitzpatrick (Sr., 113), Tim McLinden (Sr., 120), Derek Bohle (Jr., 126); Ryan Peters (Soph., 132); Dan Scalzo (Jr., 138); Cam Altobelli (Soph., 138)