After a long struggle in the center of the ring, three-year wrestler Alex Cleveland ’17 pinned his opponent to secure key points for Andover Wrestling at the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (Nepsac) Tournament last weekend. Cleveland’s fifth place finish in the 106-pound weight class propelled Andover to a 16th place overall finish with 49 points. Andover’s seven qualifying wrestlers competed against 45 other teams in the meet, which was held at the Avon Old Farms School.
Co-Captain Justin Muchnick ’16 placed sixth in the 145-pound weight class. Pins from Christian Milotte ’16 and Pierce Bausano ’18 contributed to Andover’s strong performance. Co-Captain Ian Blythe ’16 earned a hard-fought win, boosting the team’s overall score.
Bausano, who finished with a 2-2 record in the 195-pound weight group, said, “We got seven kids out on the mat, which was a nice crew. Five of our wrestlers made it to the second day of the tournament, so I think that it was a pretty good culmination of our season. There were some kids who wanted to do better, but it was still good for them to get out there and to get the experience.”
Muchnick said, “I’m proud that the team went out and all seven of us went out and wrestled really hard, win or lose. I’m also really proud of the younger kids like [Evan] Park ’18 and Pierce, who both stepped up and wrestled hard. They both look like they’ve got a bright future ahead of them on the mat.”
Although Andover was able to utilize many of its training techniques during the meet, the team struggled to adapt and recover from the hard blows of its opponents. Park and Kal Parvanov ’16 both fought hard in their matches, but struggled to stay aware of their positioning on the mat and ultimately finished with 0-2 records in their respective weight classes.
Head Coach Rich Gorham said, “Our wrestlers competed well in the tournament. Our seven qualifying wrestlers represented Andover well, and two emerged with top-six place finishes – Alex Cleveland and Justin Muchnick.”
Cleveland won four matches at the tournament to finish in fifth place with a 4-2 record. After falling to his opponent in the main draw of the meet, Cleveland faced the same wrestler in his fifth place match and avenged his loss with a win. Similarly, Muchnick won three bouts to finish in sixth place with a 3-3 record. Muchnick won 3-2 in an Ultimate Tiebreaker, the third overtime period of the match.
Blythe said, “Muchnick did a really good job in his consolation match to get him into the fifth and sixth place match. He scored a takedown in the first period, which put him at a really good advantage. He continued to wrestle hard the entire time, which led him to seal a place at Nationals.”
Muchnick said, “In preparation for Nationals, we’re getting some hard practices in for me and Cleveland. We’re doing a lot of drilling and a lot of focusing on the fundamentals, and stuff that I’m going to hit against, against good guys at Lehigh. I’m just working to make sure that I can finish the season strong.”
Due to their performances at the Nepsac Tournament, Cleveland and Muchnick have both qualified to compete at the National Prep Tournament next weekend.
Looking ahead, Andover hopes to build off of its improvement this season. The team’s strong performances at Northerns and Interschols will continue the team’s momentum as it looks to finish the season on a high note.
The National Prep Tournament, held this year at Lehigh University, will take place this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday.