PLAISTOW — Timberlane junior heavyweight Zach Stewart wasn’t expecting to be wrestling in the biggest dual meet in decades, but he was certainly up to the challenge Saturday night.
In the beginning of the season, Stewart was a mere backup to a much bigger and more experienced Jordan Eastman, expecting to work hard and prepare for his senior year as a starter.
But then Eastman got suspended and, all of a sudden, Stewart was in the starting lineup.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting it, but I was happy to have a varsity spot,” said Stewart. “Situations change and I felt I had to step up.
“I was a little nervous tonight, but once I got out on the mat, I was okay.”
Stewart battled North Andover heavyweight Alex Inangelo through a scoreless first period, got escapes in both the second and third periods and rode Inangelo throughout most of the last period for a solid 2-1 victory. He seemed to get stronger as the match went on, wearing out his opponent.
“That was a great match for Zach,” said Timberlane coach Barry Chooljian. “He looked like he had been wrestling a lot longer (on varsity0 than he has been.”
Stewart’s performance was all but a pleasant surprise for the Owls as was the dominating performance by 106-pounder Tyler Fitzpatrick in the next match. Paired against North Andover senior and standout Danielle Coughlin, Fitzpatrick didn’t give up a point and gave Coughlin little opportunity to score.
“Everybody was considering me the underdog, but I was confident,” said Fitzpatrick. “She’s tough, and hard to pin because she’s so flexible, but I’m happy with the way I wrestled.”
Somewhat of a surprise for North Andover, even if in a losing effort, was the performance of 170-pounder Stephen Concotta. After falling behind 3-0 to Timberlane senior standout Josh Riley, he rallied back to lose by just two points, 4-2, and nearly had a tying takedown to send the match into overtime.