EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 12, 2013

Losing weight, gaining discipline

Well-rounded Damiron reaps benefits of wrestling

Dave Dyer

---- — As nearly any wrestler will tell you, there are — for those who stick it out — so many benefits to taking part in the sport.

Some don’t recognize the benefits until years later, but others understand them much more quickly.

Such is the case with the Lawrence senior captains. For example:

Rizky Riyanto: “It has helped me become a young adult.”

Luis Severino: “It has helped me realize I can overcome any challenge.”

Hector Reynoso: “It has helped me become more mature and discover who I am.”

Yariel Velez: “It has taught me about commitment.”

Henry Carpio: “Wresting has helped me to learn how to be tough mentally and physically.”

Carpio’s good friend and also a captain, Jeremiah Damiron, says he has gained the same toughness, but he’s also lost something as well — a lot of weight.

“I was pretty heavy in middle school — about 4-foot-10, 180 pounds,” said Damiron. “I didn’t like it, but I couldn’t help it. I had atrocious eating habits — a lot of soda and all sorts of junk food. And I didn’t work out.”

But that all changed once Damiron took to the mat as a freshman. He had watched some of Lawrence’s meets as an eighth grader and wanted to try it.

“It was hard but I liked it,” said Damiron, who has a fine 25-12 record this year. “And wrestling is what got me to lose the weight and get fit. I had been playing football for nine years but it wasn’t until I started wrestling that I lost weight and got into good shape.”

Despite the benefits, and they’re not always easy to appreciate, Damiron had a period of weakness last year and, for a week, he left the team.

“I’d been going through some personal problems and I was having a bad year (wrestling),” he said. “I had expectations of doing well and there was pressure on me. But the coach talked to me and I realized I needed to come back. Wrestling has done so much for me, helping me mature and teaching me toughness.”

Niceforo understood Damiron’s situation and has the utmost respect for him, and anyone who puts in four years of football followed by wrestling.

“Doing that four years in a row is tough,” said Niceforo. “It’s quite a commitment, especially for kids who are involved in other things.”

A former piano player, Damiron puts the time in with his schoolwork. He has a 4.02 GPA, is ranked seventh in his class and hopes to attend Syracuse, with UMass Amherst as a second choice.

Just as happy as Niceforo that Damiron returned to the mat is his mother, Carmen Figueroa. She comes to all the meets and is a big booster of the team.

“She’s one of the only ones (parents) who come to the meets and it means a lot,” said Damiron. “And she’s supportive of the whole team. She’s like the team Mom.”

It’s something that Niceforo likes to see.

“We don’t get a lot of parents like that and I really appreciate the support,” said Niceforo.

Lack of drama?

The New Hampshire state meets will be held Saturday and, as far as the team competition, there is unlikely to be any suspense.

In Division 1, Timberlane blasted both Pinkerton (17-1) and host Concord by scores of 51-9 and 58-9 during the regular season and should roll to its 14th straight Division 1 title. And, in Division 3, host Windham is a strong favorite to repeat as champion.

The real focus for both teams, as well as Pinkerton, Londonderry and Salem, will be the individual matchups and to advance as many wrestlers as possible to the Meet of Champions the following Saturday at Pinkerton.

In Division 1, a key weight to watch will be at 138 with Londonderry’s Kyle Byrd and Timberlane’s Josh Burnham likely to meet in the finals. They have split matches this year.

Sectional switches

Not only were last weekend’s North sectionals postponed, but several of the sites needed to be changed. Division 1 was switched from Lawrence to Chelmsford while Division 2 will be forced to leave Marshfield. A new site has not been determined yet but word is that North Andover and Beverly are among the sites being considered.

Meanwhile, discussions are going on to indeed hold the divisional state meets early next week during vacation week, thereby allowing the All-State meet to remain as it is and allow Mass. wrestlers to compete in New England.

Stay tuned.

Phillips recovery

It hasn’t been the best of seasons for the Phillips Academy wrestling team but it’s a lot better than it seems on the surface.

Despite a young team, which often didn’t start more than one senior, and a couple of key injuries, the Big Blue managed to have a winning season (10-9), and can look ahead to next year with enthusiasm. Individually, 120-pound junior Christian Vallis is one of the top wrestlers in New England, and 170-pound classmate James Palmer is also a blue-chipper.

With Brooks also returning its key components from an 11-9 squad, it should be a strong year for the local prep schools in 2013-14.

Rose close to mark

Londonderry junior Mitch Rose came close to tying the national record for fastest pin last week when he pinned his opponent against Exeter in five seconds. Earlier in the season, St. John’s Prep heavyweight Corey Jean-Jacques if Haverhill tied the record with a four-second pin against Saugus.

WRESTLING FAB 5 The Eagle-Tribune's weekly ranking of area high school wrestling teams: TEAM RECORD 1. Timberlane 23-2 2. Lawrence* 21-4 3. North Andover 21-4 4. North Reading/Lynnfield 25-0 5. Methuen 23-4 Honorable mention: Pinkerton (17-1), Windham (16-1)