By Chuck Frye
---- — CHELMSFORD — The season-long marathon has now turned into a sprint.
Superb competition and a few upsets at yesterday’s Division 1 North sectional tourney kicked off a weather-condensed eight-day dash to the All-States.
In all, four area athletes ascended to the top of the podium led by Methuen 132-pounder and sectional outstanding wrestler Paul Sughrue. The Ranger senior was even more commanding than he was last year in his run to the sectional title, authoring a pair of first-period pins and finishing up with a dominant 16-1 technical fall in the finals against St. John’s Prep’s Fred Colberg.
Continuing their 1-2 punch into the postseason, teammate Christian Monserrat rolled over Lawrence’s Anfernee Green for a 16-0 technical fall midway through the final period in the 126-pound finals.
The pleasant surprise of the tourney came right at the start of the finals as a savvy Hector Reynoso of Lawrence learned well from an early-season loss to Methuen’s Billy Wehring, turning the tide to take a 4-2 triumph at 106 pounds.
“Last time I wrestled him, I picked bottom (position in the second period). He’s good on top and he turned me,” said Reynoso. “I told my coach to go neutral so I’d have a better chance to take him down.”
Reynoso did just that, breaking open a tight one-point match in the third period with a clutch takedown that Wehring couldn’t recover from.
Ian Butterbrodt of North Andover and St. John’s Prep raised his unblemished record to 46-0 as the sophomore kept Haverhill’s Samie Al-Ziad befuddled all match en route to an 8-1 victory at 220 pounds. Butterbrodt targeted Al-Ziad’s legs and rode the advantage to a pair of near-falls.
As impressive as his season has been, it becomes more eye-opening considering the possible advantage he gives his opponents.
“I pretty much give away 20 pounds a match,” Butterbrodt said. “At the beginning of the season, I weighed 195 pounds. I’ve gained some weight — just taking in calories — so now I’m up to 203.”
But the sophomore uses his strengths in physiology to his advantage, saying, “I have long arms, and that helps working the opponents’ legs, and I go really hard during the offseason and in practice which helps me win a lot of matches in the third period.
“Plus, I wrestle (highly rated heavyweight) Corey Jean-Jacques in practice, which doesn’t hurt,” said Butterbrodt with a smile.
Jean-Jacques suffered one of the meet’s upsets in the finals, failing to escape from the grip of St. John’s of Shrewsbury’s Connor Gatto before getting pinned with 25 seconds left in the match.
Prep wins team title
With similar deep rosters, it was expected St. John’s Prep and Lawrence would battle for the team title.
They did finish 1-2, but with seven finalists compared to two for the Lancers, the Danvers-based Eagles easily took the crown with 249 ½ points. Lawrence finished with 186 ½ points.
“Our goal was to win but I’m happy with second,” said Lancer head coach Rob Niceforo. “St. John’s is a tough team and we gave it our all.
“We qualified 10 of our 14 wrestlers for the Division 1 states so we still have a shot at the state team title. And after beating North Andover for the MVC title and wrestling a tough schedule, we still have 74 kids on our team. The commitment is there and I couldn’t be prouder of our kids.”
Eagle head coach Manny Costa, who was voted sectional coach of the year, was also pleased with the outcome.
“We put together a tough schedule just to prepare for the state tournaments,” Costa said. “We were hoping to get 10 in and we got 10. Top to bottom, all of our guys come to wrestle, they do the right things and give us a chance to win.”
Division 1 North Sectional
Team scores: 1. St. John’s Prep 249 1⁄2, 2. Lawrence 186 1⁄2, 3. Chelmsford 175 1⁄2, 5. Methuen 1201 ⁄2, 10. Haverhill 52 1⁄2, 11. Andover 41
Champions and local state qualifiers (top four advance):
106: 1. Hector Reynoso (Law), 2. Billy Wehring (Met); 113: 1. Devon Thompson (Lowell); 120: 1. Peter Robinson (SJ Shrewsbury), 4. Luis Severino (Law); 126: 1. Christian Monserrat (Met), 2. Anfernee Green (Law); 132: 1. Paul Sughrue (Met), 3. Reese Millington (Hav), 4. Sonily Pena (Law); 138: 1. Jared Costa (SJP), 4. Jack Reilly (And); 145: 1. Scott Mcquaide (Chelm), 3. Jeremiah Damiron (Law); 152: 1. James Clasen (Chelm), 3. Henry Carpio (Law); 160: 1. Peter Locke (SJP), 3. Nathaniel Cruz (Law), 4. Joe Solimini (And); 170: 1. Zach Harris (SJ Shrews), 3. Gio Rivera (Met); 182: 1. Dustin Thibeault (Shawsheen); 195: 1. Leo Trindade (Billerica), 3. Yariel Velez (Law); 220: 1. Ian Butterbrodt (SJP), 2. Sami Al-Ziad (Hav); HVY: 1. Connor Gatto (SJ Shrewsbury), 2. Corey Jean-Jacques (SJP)
Outstanding wrestler: Paul Sughrue, Methuen
Coach of the Year: Manny Costa, St. John’s Prep