By Dave Dyer
---- — It will be an epic battle of superior programs much more than a matchup of standout individuals tomorrow night when Timberlane hosts North Andover in one of the region’s most anticipated dual meets in decades.
There are plenty of potential New England placers on both teams but it’s unlikely that many if any will go against each other.
“It looks like their best wrestlers are at different weight classes from our best wrestlers,” said North Andover coach Carl Cincotta. “It’s hard to say because a lot of kids are in different weights than they’ll be in another month, but that’s the way it looks.”
Although many weight classes are undetermined this week as wrestlers on both teams continue to cut weight, there are a few possible matchups that could swing the meet one way or the other.
106/113 — North Andover’s Danielle Coughlin, a three-year starter and a key in last year’s Division 2 state championship, could go up against gritty Timberlane junior Tyler Fitzpatrick. Both are trying to make weight at 106 and it’s possible that they could meet at 113 as well.
Fitzpatrick is highly energetic but Coughlin rates a slight favorite, if only because of her experience.
132 — North Andover junior Zane Melillo is as tough as they come at 132 and he’s back at the same weight, which is obviously an advantage. He might be paired against highly-touted Timberlane freshman Ryan Peters, whose potential as a rookie is unclear.
If he drops a weight, talented sophomore Dan Scalzo could provide the opposition for Melillo.
145 — Timberlane captain Josh Burnham is primed for a big season after enjoying a 43-7 campaign as a junior. He has been wrestling at 145 thus far, which is the same weight as Fritz Hoehn, North Andover’s super sophomore who is coming off a 45-5 season. Hoehn should be favored in virtually every match he wrestles.
There should be some other hotly contested matches and a few where there will be obvious favorites.
Timberlane’s Adam Corey (126) and Harry Denoncourt (182), for example, will be difficult for the Knights to handle while North Andover’s Brad Drover (152 or 160) and Ryan Neals (195 or 220) are all but unbeatable.
Whatever the matchups, it should be a full house and a charged atmosphere, one worthy of a showdown between two of New England’s best teams.
“There’s going to be a lot of excitement starting (today) and it should be great for wrestling,” said Timberlane coach Barry Chooljian. “This (meet) would be a lot different in late January but we’re happy to have a meet like this anytime.”
Agreed Cincotta: “I would have liked to have this late in the year, but it was the only opening we could work out so we’ll take it. We think Timberlane has an advantage because they have more meets and been practicing longer. But we’ll give it our best shot. It’s good for the kids and it’s good for the sport.”
4:30: Dual meet between the two youth programs.
5:30: JV meet
7:15: Varsity meet
Fans wanting to watch the varsity match are advised to attend the JV meet and not leave the gym between meets.
tale of the tape Tomorrow's showdown features teams that have been dominant in their own states over the last decade but, despite being located within 20 miles, haven't faced each other in decades. Timberlane North Andover Last year's record: 23-2 22-2 Record last 5 years: 91-4-1 123-18 Record last 10 years: 172-9-2 252-27 State Tourney: 13 straight D1 titles 3 straight D2 titles New Englands: 5 straight titles Fourth last year