EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

March 14, 2013

Will Timberlane finally be overtaken next year?

Owls' star power may be suspect, but don't discount Owls overall talent

Maybe, just maybe, there will be some cracks in the Timberlane dynasty next year.

The Owls, who were runners-up at New Englands this year after five straight crowns, have been the area king for well over a decade, but they’re graduating six quality seniors and, for the first time in recent memory, will not be returning any New England placers.

Timberlane will remain highly competitive with everyone, particularly in dual meets but, in bigger meets, it could be vulnerable against the likes of North Andover, which — if it avoids key injuries unlike this year — could be stronger and possibly even Pinkerton. The Astros’ only loss this year was to Timberlane.

“I think we’re getting there (to beating Timberlane) and I’d like to think that next year will be our year,” said Pinkerton coach Dave Rhoads.

“That’s our goal — and it should always be your goal — to be the best.”

Pinkerton graduates only three senior starters and it has some fine individuals, like 126-pound state champ Jean-Luc Lemieux, 195-pounder Kevin Ell and impressive freshman Dylan Barreiro, plus a couple of promising eighth graders. But it may be premature to count on Timberlane slipping much.

The Owls, after all, have suffered heavy graduation losses before and youth coach Tim Brown is confident that this year’s seventh and eighth grade classes are particularly strong.

“Graduating four state champs is always difficult ... I’m sure a lot of teams will be gunning for us,” said Timberlane coach Barry Chooljian.

“Next year we may not be as solid in all weights for dual meets but I am excited about our talent as a team.”

For the bigger meets, it’ll be up to the likes of juniors Tyler Fitzpatrick and Tim McLinden and freshman Ryan Peters, all of whom had fine seasons, to step it up to an even higher level.

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