LONDONDERRY — Pinkerton junior 195-pounder Kevin Ell came to the rescue last night.
With the Astros trailing surprising Londonderry 36-27 with only three matches remaining, Ell dominated Lancers’ freshman Mahdi Achab, settling for a 13-0 major decision, to clinch what would become a 43-36 victory. Londonderry was forced to forfeit both of the upper two weights.
It wasn’t the first time this year that Ell has come up big for Pinkerton. After recording a so-so 17-13 record last year, he has become one of the better heavier weight wrestlers in New Hampshire, improving his record to 28-8. That in turn has helped the Astros compile a 16-1 record as the best team in New Hampshire not called Timberlane.
Pinkerton is well on its way to breaking last year’s school record 17 wins.
“Top to bottom, we’re more balanced than last year and we’re way stronger at 170 (pounds) and above,” said Pinkerton coach David Rhoads. “Kevin has been a big part of that. He’s really having a great year. I think he built up a lot of confidence last year.
“We may be No. 2 (in New Hampshire) but we think we’re a strong No. 2.”
Ell, who plays football for the Astros, didn’t start wrestling until he was a freshman, looking for a change of pace from basketball. He’s just the kind of athlete Rhoads wants in the program.
But joining the wrestling program has done as much for Ell.
“When I switched from basketball, I really liked it and it’s done a lot for me,” said Ell, who placed sixth at the rugged Lowell Holiday Tournament last month. “I was chubby in middle school and I lost 20 pounds because of wrestling ... and it got me in good shape.”
The match of the night was another pivotal decision won by the Astros. Freshman Dylan Barreiro got a late second-period escape and then held on for a 1-0 victory at 170 pounds over Richard Bilodeau.