By Dave Dyer
---- — There are always football players who transition to wrestling, but few did it as successfully as Central Catholic’s Ben Tavitian.
The senior from Haverhill was a two-way lineman and All-MVC pick for the Raiders in the fall and seamlessly switched to wrestling with spectacular success.
After an excellent junior season on the mat, Tavitian stepped it up this winter as Central’s 220-pounder, compiling a 56-6 record with 45 pins, both school records.
With some well deserved time off, as he plans for what he hopes will be a successful college football career, we went Around the Horn with Tavitian.
When did you start wrestling and why?
“I started my freshman year. The (football) coaches told me about it, that I should try it. Coach A (Chuck Adamopoulos) really liked the idea.”
Did you like wrestling from the start?
“Not at all. I was getting beat up a lot and I didn’t think it was much fun. But I wanted to get better at it and I knew it would help me for football.”
When did it start clicking for you?
“During my junior year (42-10) I started doing a lot better and I thought I could be pretty good if I worked at it.”
You had so many pins — did you go into each match with the mind-set of pinning your opponent?
“Not really. I just went in about wrestling smart and not making any mistakes.”
Which record are you more proud of — total wins or the number of pins?
“The wins. The pins are nice, but the wins are what help the team.”
Did having so many pins become a problem with conditioning?
“Definitely it was a problem. I wasn’t used to wrestling all three periods. I finally got used to it at the end of the season.”
Were your football coaches right — did wrestling help you much for football?
“I know it did a lot for me. It helped me get stronger, more rugged and definitely better conditioned. And bringing someone down in football is a lot like wrestling.”
Did you need to lose weight for wrestling at the 220-pound class?
“Not really. For football, I had to gain weight, and I never got over 225 in the summer (between seasons).”
“What do you do in the spring?
“I usually do track, but I’m not sure about this year. I might just run and lift on my own and get ready for (college) football.”
What are your college plans?
“I’m still sorting that out. I definitely want to play college football somewhere. I’ve applied to 10 schools and have been accepted at the first six I’ve heard from — Assumption, UMass Dartmouth, Merrimack, Pace, St. Anselm and Stonehill.”
Do you have any other athletes in the family?
“I have a sister at Haverhill (High), Rakel, who plays field hockey, basketball and track. I also have a younger sister at Hunking (Middle School) and an older sister, Jillian, who is at UMass Lowell.”
Why did you decide to go to Central Catholic?
“I considered Haverhill but I thought I needed a more structured atmosphere. I don’t think I would have done as many things as I have — like wrestling — if I hadn’t come to Central.”
If you were principal at Central, what change would you make?
“I wouldn’t do anything. I like Central the way it is.”
“What was your favorite athletic moment at Central?
“It was junior year when we beat Andover on Thanksgiving. That was great.”
What’s the best vacation you’ve ever had?
“When I went with my family to Disney World.”
What is your family background?
“We’re Armenian. My grandparents came over from Turkey.”
Movie: Step Brothers
TV Show: Family Guy
Book: Harry Potter series
Food: “I couldn’t choose — I like everything, although I really like Armenian food.”
Type of music: Hip Hop
Boston pro team: Patriots
Athlete: Ray Lewis
Class in school: accounting or religion
Teacher: “I like all my teachers.”