Timberlane junior 113-pounder Tim McLinden certainly knows how to fit in with the crowd.
When he moved from Windham to Plaistow in the eighth grade, he had never wrestled and knew very little about the sport. But he soon discovered that wrestling is popular in the Timberlane district.
“Some of my first friends here wrestled and thought I should try it,” said McLinden. “I took a visit to the (wrestling) Barn, I looked around at what was going on and I liked it.”
With his interest sparked, McLinden began wrestling as a freshman, which is considered late in the Timberlane program. Because of that, there was an adjustment period.
“At first, it was a disadvantage because I didn’t know the moves,” said McLinden. “But I don’t like to use that as an excuse.”
Instead, McLinden has proven to be a fast learner. He won the JV state meet as a freshman and sophomore, last year as a backup to New England champion Zach Bridson, and made steady progress.
Inserted into the starting lineup this year, McLinden has been one of the surprises of the season for the Owls and one of the team’s most consistent performers. He’s 25-9, finished fourth at the rugged Lowell Holiday Tournament and rolled to the title at the Timberlane Tournament.
“My main thing this year was just to make the varsity,” said McLinden. “I figured I had a good chance because I worked hard in the offseason, but now I want to do well in the states.”
Timberlane coach Barry Chooljian is not surprised, given McLinden’s character, at his relatively rapid development.
“He’s very coachable and his work ethic is tremendous,” said Timberlane coach Barry Chooljian. “He and (junior 106-pounder) Tyler Fitzpatrick are machines in the practice room. He is engaged in his improvement everyday and that’s the reason he has been so successful in such a short time.”