EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

March 21, 2013

Salem High's 'irreplaceable' wrestler

SALEM — You don’t have to be a private investigator, like his coach Wes Decker, to discover there is a lot to like about Salem High wrestler John Rheaume.

The 120-pounder went 41-7 on the mat this winter, he’s ranked seventh in a class of 310 students and scored a 2,020 on his SATs, and a 33 on his ACT (which converts to about 2,240 SAT). Oh, and he’s an Eagle Scout, too!

Rheaume, who also was a captain on the cross country team, will be continuing his wrestling career at WPI, where he’ll be studying mechanical engineering. He also was accepted to Northeastern, RPI, UVM and Lehigh.

Rheaume’s resume speaks for itself, but Decker says there is much, much more to the story.

“I said this to his parents after New Englands: ‘He might be the only wrestler I’ve ever coached that I’d consider irreplaceable,’” said Decker, who was a state champion for Timberlane in 1987. “Only half that is his ability. He’s a great leader, he’s a great kid. We could give him our Sportmanship Award, Hardest Worker and Most Improved. You could give all of them to him. That’s the type of kid he is.”

The 5-foot-3 Rheaume, who had a 151-25 career record, said he was fortunate to avoid serious injuries in his four years starring for the Blue Devils.

“Just the general aches and pains and sores,” said Rheaume, whose sister, Michelle, is ranked No. 2 in Salem’s sophomore class. “You learn to live with it. I show up to class with mat burns on my face. People laugh. I just shrug it off.”

To be the type of scholar-athlete to win Moynihan Scholar-Athlete of the Month puts you in a select company. To do it as a wrestler is even more challenging.

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