EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 20, 2014

On a mission

Bigger and stronger, North Reading's Wise determined to finish strong

Takedowns
Dave Dyer

---- — It comes with the territory.

Because of his name, and because he is an excellent student with a GPA of 3.82, North Reading senior Joey Wise gets plenty of good natured kidding.

“I get it all the time,” said Wise. “They say I’m a ‘Wise guy’ or say ‘you’re not so Wise’ and all kinds of things like that.”

When it comes to his wrestling, however, Wise gets more respect than kidding, especially this year.

As a junior for North Reading/Lynnfield, Wise had a fine season, finishing 24-10 as a 126-pounder, but it hardly ended the way he would have liked. Moved up to 132 for the sectional, he faltered and, of 14 wrestlers, he was the only member of the team not to advance to the Division 3 state meet.

“I was a little injured, with some tendinitis in my knee and some back issues, but I was still mad that I didn’t place,” said Wise. “But that motivated me to get better and more determined to do better.”

So Wise took regular trips to workouts at Dough Boy in Lowell, he frequented the two-week Carl Adams wrestling camp at Boston University and, most of all, he lifted weights.

While getting stronger, Wise got much bigger, forcing him to wrestle at 152 pounds this year, which is a jump of four weight classes. But that hasn’t been a problem.

Through last week, Wise had a 25-3 record, with two of his losses coming by a point, and he placed first at the Pentucket Tournament. He has 14 pins already.

“Joey has taken his wrestling to a different level,” said North Reading/Lynnfield coach Craig Stone. “After last year, he really dedicated himself in the offseason to getting a lot better and it shows.”

Wise wasn’t expecting to jump four weight classes, but he’s adjusted smoothly to the higher weight while noticing a significant difference in the two classes.

“There’s a different style of wrestling at 152,” said Wise. “At 126, there’s a lot of slickness and you really try to shoot for the takedown. At 152, there’s a lot more tying up and head stuff. It’s more physical.”

Regardless, Wise has more pins this year and he has high goals.

“The main thing is that I just want to help the team but I’d really like to place at All-State and go to New England,” he said.

Regardless of his finish, Wise will probably not wrestle in college. He wants to get in a pre-med curriculum and most of his potential schools — Pitt, UMass Amherst, Wake Forest, North Carolina, UConn, Tufts — are either Division 1 or don’t offer wrestling.

“I really, really want to continue wrestling in college but it might be hard to do while I’m in pre-med,’ he said. “That’s a big commitment.”

And that sounds like a Wise decision.

Keep the co-op!

Although he’ll no longer be around, Wise hopes that North Reading and Lynnfield continue to have a co-op in wrestling.

“It’d be terrible if they split up,” said Wise. “There’s so much camaraderie the way it is now and I know the juniors and sophomores want the team to stay the way it is now.

“I love it. It doesn’t seem like a rivalry (North Reading and Lynnfield) and there’s no grouping at all. I have a great friend, Eric Kerr, from Lynnfield and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Intriguing proposal

A proposal submitted in masswrestling.com is drawing a lot of comments and is definitely intriguing. It proposes that the current 14 weight classes in high school be reduced to 11.

Among the advantages, 11 classes would enable more teams to fill a competitive varsity lineup, it would allow for more of a true JV team, spread out the weight classes so that there would be less cutting of weight, create more competition in each weight, reduce the need for the tie-breaker system and allow more small and medium schools to be competitive.

A glance at a couple of Saturday’s dual meets makes the idea particularly worthy of consideration. Pinkerton, Londonderry and Brooks all competed in meets where there were at least seven weight class forfeits.

Konovalchik to WVU

Brooks senior Andrew Konovalchik will be joining Methuen’s Christian Monserrat at West Virginia University.

The 160-pound standout won’t get scholarship money right away but the WVU coaches are excited to have him and say that he can earn scholarship funds depending on how he progresses.

“Because he’s been involved with lacrosse and football, and hasn’t concentrated on wrestling as much, they feel Andrew has a lot of untapped potential,” said Brooks coach Alex Konovalchik, Andrew’s father.

“It’s a good situation for Andrew. He wanted to go to the south and was also looking at Virginia. But he really liked the coaching staff and whole situation at West Virginia. We had a great visit there.”

WRESTLING FAB 5

The Eagle-Tribune’s weekly ranking of area high school wrestling teams:

TEAM RECORD

1. Timberlane 15-0

2. North Andover 14-2

3. Londonderry 7-1

4. Brooks 11-1

5. Lawrence 10-4

Honorable mention: North Reading/Lynnfield (18-0), Methuen (13-2)