By Dave Dyer
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — They’re feeding off each other and they’ve been getting heavy in talent, and accomplishments, because of it.
They’re Brooks juniors Andrew Konovalchik of North Andover and Nate Gibeley of Boxford and, at 160 and 170 pounds, they form perhaps the toughest one-two punch in New England.
If you added North Andover High 152-pounder Fritz Hoehn and 160-pounder Brad Drover into the mix you’d have four of the premier wrestlers in the East working out within a mile of each other.
Often times in wrestling, when a team has an exceptional wrestler in one weight class, there’s a teammate near the same weight of near equal ability. That’s certainly the case at Brooks with Konovalchik and Gibeley.
They’re both naturally about 170 pounds, but Konovalchik opted for the lower weight class to help the team and further his own individual goals. Each is a defending ISL champions with tremendous records.
Konovalchik, who is ranked first in New England at 160, is 5-0 since coming back from knee surgery following a 29-3 sophomore campaign while Gibeley is undefeated at 10-0 unless one considers a scrimmage loss to Drover. They’re both former football players who are now more focused on wrestling, although Konovalchik remains a superb lacrosse player.
Although each is highly motivated and do a lot of offseason wrestling, Konovalchik and Gibeley both agree that drilling against each other — and drilling hard — for three years has been invaluable.
“It’s awesome to go against one of the best in New England every day,” said Konovalchik, who had knee surgery Aug. 28 after getting hurt this summer at a wrestling camp. “We really go at it — if you’re going to get better, you have to. But we’re talking the whole time.”
Agreed Gibeley: “We both try to beat each other up, but we don’t get angry at each other. He’s the best partner you can have. We use it as a motivator.”
Adding to the in-room fireworks at Brooks for the dynamic duo is the addition of former Brooks All-American Sean “Spike” Bilodeau, who went on to wrestle four years at Lehigh. He’s at practice at least twice a week and he not only provides a brutal workout but makes sure neither Konovalchik or Gibeley get too cocky.
“He definitely beats on us,” said Konovalchik. “Having him here means so much.”
Yesterday’s tri-meet against St. Paul’s and Tilton were typical. Both had a pair of pins and were part of a core of Brooks wrestlers who showed tremendous balance, but not enough to overcome a good St. Paul’s team in the opener, losing 48-30 despite added pins by freshman Jake Gottfried of North Andover at 182 and 195-pounder Ryan Miles of Groveland in just 28 seconds and a gritty 7-4 decision by North Andover’a Geoff Fulgione at 220.
At just 2-6, the Brooks record is not impressive, but head coach Alex Konovalchik has put together a fearsome schedule that includes public school powers Natick and Franklin. And, for his blue-chip wrestlers that include his son and Gibeley, he’s laying the groundwork for what could be a banner postseason.
Rheault in top form
In the first match of the day, 152-pounder Ethan Rheault of Salem, N.H., improved to 10-0 for St. Paul’s with a pin at 1:02 of the first period. He’s coming off a year in which he was an ISL and New England prep champion, taking a 35-0 record to prep nationals, where he lost two close decisions to eventually All-Americans.
Team scores: St. Paul’s 48, Brooks 30; Brooks 71, Tilton 6
106: Andy Scheerer 1-1; 113: Tom Caron 1-1; 120: ; 126: Sho Nihei 1-1; 132: jake hesse 1-1; 138: Andrew Bolte 0-2 145: Cole Millington 0-1, Chris Cervizzi 1-0; 152: Andrew Kimball 1-1; 160: Andrew Konovalchik 2-0; 170: Nate Gibeley 2-0; 182:Jake Gottfried 2-0; 195: Ryan Miles 2-0; 220: Geoff Fulgione 2-0; HVY:
Records: Brooks 2-6