OUTLOOK: On paper, North Andover is the team to beat in Merrimack Valley. The Knights return two New England placers in Brad Drover (runner-up) and Fritz Hoehn (fourth) and they’re loaded in the lower weights.
But North Andover coach Carl Cincotta is hardly overconfident, not with defending champion Lawrence around.
“When you have 100 kids out for the team and a good coach like Rob (Niceforo), that always worries me,” said Cincotta. “I know they’ll be tough by the end of the year.”
Other than that, look for Chelmsford to contend and, if its younger wrestlers come around, Methuen could be a factor. Haverhill should be vastly improved and could be a spoiler.
Merrimack Valley Conference
2012-13 season: 0-18
Returning starters (6): Shaun Merrill, Sr., 171; John Croston, Jr., 145; Tyler Ferris, Jr., 132/138; Matthew Marcotte, Soph., 126/132; Patrick Meagher, Soph., 113; Matthew Stamas, Soph., 215
Returning lettermen: Ben Levine, Jr., 160; Nathaniel Dykstra, Soph., 106; Ryan Surehan, Soph., 126
Promising newcomers: Jarad Amoroso, Jr., 145; Steve Herman, Jr., 215; Matthew Soares, Soph., 285; Jacob Ruthazer, Frosh., 132/138
Candidates: 18; Captains: TBA
Fast facts: Sobhan Namvar resigned as head coach to take a position in New York City although he has since returned to the area. ... New coach Brian Caldwell, who was an assistant last year, wrestled in high school in Ohio and briefly at Wright State before wrestling was terminated there. He has a black belt in jiu jitsu and is an instructor in that discipline. ... Tyler Ferris has put together back-to-back strong seasons. ... There is only one senior on the team.
Assistant coaches: Aaron Blanco, Neal Callahan (volunteer), Neil McCarthy (volunteer), Jake Pilla (volunteer)
Coach Brian Caldwell (1st year): “Our young team has had a tough time growing but we know our work will pay off and we’re in it
for the long run. We will build our team to become a threat. Our kids continue to strive to go beyond their
boundaries and improve on a daily basis knowing that this will pay off in the long run. We are here to build for our future.”
2012-13 season: 14-11
Returning starters (8): Morgan Bronson, Sr., 195/220; Zach Janco, Sr., 195/220; Russ Gemmel, Sr., 152/160; Riley Sergi, Jr., 132/138; Jack Kiely, Jr., 113/120; Jack Putnam, Jr., 170/182; Tom Pagliarulo, Soph., 106/113; Brandon DesFosses, Soph., 132/138; Donovan Nolan, Soph., 145/152
Returning lettermen: Amanda Meli, Sr., 138/145; Corey Riordan, Sr., 126/132; Pat Dziedzic, Jr., 182/195; Mitchell Kosman, Jr., 145/152; Justin Landry, Jr., 285; Matt Mears, Jr., 145/152; Jon Mendonca, Jr., 160/170; Travis Scott, Jr., 113/120; Elias Chaya, Soph., 145/152; Juan Cintron, Soph., 126/132; Dan Doherty, Soph., 120/126; Nick Janco, Soph., 160/170; Jon Lafrance, Soph., 126/132; Luis Rodriguez, Soph., 160/170; Jamil Sarkis, Soph., 126/132; Brian Shirley, Soph., 145/152; Jeremy Worden, Soph., 113/120
Promising newcomers: Cole Burton, Frosh.; Sean Fleming, Frosh.; Cam Hebert, Frosh.; Tom Moeller, Frosh.; Andrew Peralta, Frosh.
Fast facts: Several top prospects got a late start because they played football in the Super Bowl for the Raiders. ... Graduated all-time win leader Pat Lacroix.
Assistant coaches: Jamie Durkin, Mike Armano, Tim Lattrell, Eric Boucher
Coach Dennis King (24th year, 365-113-6): “We have depth in the lower weights, but we have some holes in the upper weights. We should be competitive. It’s going to take awhile to get things sorted out.”
2012-13 season: 6-11-1
Returning starters (9): Jomar Cannon, Sr., 170; Jorge Alfonso, Sr., 145; Samie Al-Ziab, Jr., 220; Orlando Rojas, Jr., 138; Matt Haskell, Jr., 285; Reece Millington, Soph., 132/138; Luc Chretian, Soph., 182; Jake Prescott, Soph., 145; Efraim Gonzelez, Jr., 152
Returning letterman: Jamal Babiker, Sr., 138/145; Andy Marcotte, Jr., 138/145; Colby Prescott, Soph., 138; Dan McDonald, Soph., 170
Promising newcomers: Jordan Faulkner, Sr., 195; Danny DeJesus, Jr., 106/113; Jordan Loosian, Soph., 106; Justin Britton, Frosh., 152
Candidates: 28; Captains: TBA
Fast facts: Orlando Rojas broke a wrist (twice) in football, but hopes to be back by the first of year ... After two years without a team, the revived wrestling program debuted going 7-7-1 before last year’s mark against tougher competition. ... Samie Al-Ziab was second in the Division 1 state meet, losing by just one point to St. John’s Prep star Ian Butterbrodt and by one point to the Connecticut state champ and eventual New England champ by one point. ... Matt Haskell was an all-conference tackle for the football team. ... Senior Jordan Faulkner is a transfer who wrestled in Delaware.
Assistant coaches: Dan Purpura, Joe DelGrasso (volunteer)
Coach Brian Urquhart (3rd year, 13-18-2): “We’re continuing to move to the next level. I hope we’re riding the success of football. I think we’re benefitting from the youth program and improving each year. We should be pretty strong in the upper weights.”
2012-13 season: 21-4, MVC champion
Returning starters (4): Anfernee Green, Sr., 132; Sonlly Pena, Sr., 138; Andy Delacruz, Sr., 195; Rafael Medina, Jr., 145
Returning lettermen: Manny Arias, Sr., 126; Rangel Villar, Sr., 152; Jan Pichardo, Sr., 195; Presley Blanco, Sr., 152; Chris Hernandez, Jr., 132; Yeriel Torres, Soph., 106
Promising newcomers: Melvin Felix, Sr., 120; Alex Lopez, Sr., 285; Steve Toro, Sr., 170; Allen Houth, Sr., 195; Alberto Camacho, Sr., 170; Allen Hoeuth, Sr., 182; Rodney McLean, Sr., 220; Erciloio Liriano, Sr., 138; Stalin Urena, Sr., 285; Miguel Rodriguez, Jr., 113; Victor Guzman, Jr., 132; Manny Laun, Jr., 160; Chris Guzman, Soph., 106
Candidates: 110; Captains: Sonnly Pena, others TBA
Fast facts: The 110 wrestlers on the team, while stunning, is actually a slight decline from last year. ... Lawrence is hosting the Division 1 state meet. ... For the first time in Rob Niceforo’s tenure, Lawrence will face Timberlane, Dec. 14 at home as part of a quad-meet.
Assistant coaches: Ozzy Morales, Christian Guzman, Alex Vargas
Coach Rob Niceforo (11th year, 173-70-2): “We should be tough in the middle weight classes, but the lower and upper weights are mostly junior varsity kids who will have to work extra hard to keep their varsity spot. In order to further promote competition, we plan to have wrestleoffs every Tuesday, allowing all wrestlers more opportunities to earn the varsity spot. We lost a lot of good seniors from graduation, but I believe the team will get stronger as the year progresses.”
2012-13 season: 23-4
Returning lettermen: Christian Monserrat, Sr., 132; Will Wilder, Sr., 113; Rafael Caceres, Sr., 138; Ben Fitzgerald, Sr. 182; Mike Golio, Sr., 220; Tim Michelini, Jr, 132; Dan Aziz, Jr. 152; Billy Wehring, So. 113
Promising newcomers: Luis Perez, Sr. 152; Luis Sanchez, Sr. 160; Jon Gonzalez, Jr. 182; Alex Lima, Jr. 195; Brad Andrews, Jr. 113, Saul Cabrera, Soph. 182; Dan Menihane, Soph., 126; Todd Moschetto, Soph. 120; Arturo Rivera, Soph. 145; Bruce Costa, Frosh. 132; Darius Franklin, Frosh. 152; Nate Green, Frosh. 106; Craig House, Frosh. 132; Hunter Andrews, Soph. 145; Christian Rosado, Frosh. 126; Travis Abdallah, Frosh. 138; Trevor Abdallah, Frosh. 160
Candidates: 50; Captains: Mike Golio, Christian Monserrat
Fast facts: Christian Monserrat is a returning NE Champion, owns a 155-2 career record and has committed to Div. 1 West Virginia. ... Luis Perez returns after missing last year due to a torn ACL. ... Brad Andrews and Jon Gonzalez both transferred from Greater Lawrence and have a chance to be in the starting lineup. Golio and Monserrat are the only two starters remaining from the 2012 Div. 1 state championship team. ... Freshman Darius Franklin is the younger brother of former Haverhill star Isaiah Williams.
Assistants: John Sughrue, Calvin Kattar
Coach Bill James (13th year, 213-56-1): “We have a few guys that should do really well in the big tournaments. But realistically, we have lost a lot of great wrestlers over the last couple of years. We also have a couple of guys banged up from football. Our dual meet lineup is going to be inexperienced, so we have to work hard and see how much better we can get as the season progresses. Our guys have been working hard, they want to do well. So it is important for us to stay positive and get better as a team.”
2012-13 season: 22-4
Returning starters (8): Brad Drover, Sr., 170; Zane Melillo, Sr., 132/138; Nick Cincotta, Sr., 132/138; Nick Villalba, Sr., 132/138/126; Jake Caporale, Sr., 285; Dan Villalba, Sr., 132; Cooper McCloud, Sr., 160; Omar Elbetenony, Sr., 132 Peter Taylor, Jr., 126; Fritz Hoehn, Jr., 152/160; Conor O’Sullivan, Jr., 126/132; Matt Alexander, Jr., 132; Stephen Manning, Soph., 113
Returning lettermen: Jonathan Ortega, Jr., 220; Elijah Declet, Jr., 195; Matt Messina, Soph., 182; Conor Ford, Soph., 106
Promising newcomers: Will Testa, Frosh., 145; Jack Perry, Frosh., 106; Ricky Simmons, Frosh., 113; Juka Morales, Frosh., 132 ; Gavin O’Sullivan, Frosh., 106;
Captains: Brad Drover, Nick Cincotta, Dan Villalba, Nick Villalba
Fast facts: North Andover has at least five 106-pounders and nine capable wrestlers weighing between 130 and 140 pounds. ... Stephen Cincotta is out for the year with a shoulder injury and may not be able to wrestle again. ... New England runner-up Brad Drover, who was 44-3 last year, wrestled extremely well at the Super 32 tournament. Fritz Hoehn, who was 45-5 and fourth in New England, also competed and wrestled well. ... The Knights host Timberlane in a big dual meet Dec. 27.... Promising sophomore Owen Rosenberger transferred to Brooks.
Assistants: Mike Wilson, Larry Coughlin, Von Hoehn, Matt Routhier
Coach Carl Cincotta (3rd year, 46-6): “The big guys are a work in progress, but we hope to have one step up. But throughout our lineup, we have a lot of good wrestlers and a couple of great ones. Our goal, like every year, is to win the league and win the state title. You never know what will happen with injuries, but I think we’re capable of being as good or better than last year. We never want to rebuild.”