This years edition of Big Blue Wrestling might be the best in recent years. With a full line-up and most of the top grapplers from last year returning, the Andover Wrestling team is looking strong. The team is led by Co-captain Leon Fay ’04, who placed third in the Class A Interschols last year and earned a fifth place spot in the New England tournament with a solid four victories on the day. Fay said of his team, “The team has improved greatly over the past few years. With almost all of last year’s starters returning and a PG in the line-up for the first time in ten years, we hope to have a team that can strongly contend for the league championship. We have been building up to a team of this caliber and finally have a shot to win it all.” Last year the young team only had three seniors who earned varsity letters. This year, that will not be an issue for the Blue. The team has a full line-up for the first time in four years, boasting experience and talent. This allows the team to not forfeit the highest and lowest weights, which cost them points that decided many matches last year. The wrestlers are very excited to finally see what a full Andover line-up can do. Last year, the Andover team, with a line-up mostly of underclassmen, managed 133.5 team points in Class A Interschols, an improvement of more than 30 points over 2002’s output. The team also posted a three year high in the New England Championships with 56 team points. Andover lost none of the wrestlers from the Championships and graduated just two wrestlers that competed in Interschols. According to Co-captain, Jeffrey Peña ’04, “This year is going to be exciting- we are returning most of last years starters, have a full line-up for the first time in my career at PA, and we have an energetic young team. It looks like the Big Blue is finally going to be a major contender for the league and even the New England title.” The team is relying on a solid core of returning wrestlers such as Peña and Fay, as well as four other returning wrestlers who managed to medal in last years Class A Interschols. The team is also hoping for support from younger wrestlers Mark Shvartsman ’05 and Gabe Worgaftik ’06. For the first time in years, the Andover program has recruited a Post Graduate to join the line-up. PG Stephen DeSimone hopes to help the team in their quest for a second ever Class A championship. DeSimone fills the heavyweight class, a class which has been notoriously difficult for Andover to keep a steady starter in for the past few years. Peña is looking for the New England Championship after making it to the finals last season and almost coming out with a win. Going into the tournament he was seeded ninth with a 26-5 record, but managed to stun the first and fourth seed on the road to the finals. Peña also managed a first place spot in the Northern New England Invitational and a bronze medal in the Class A’s. Fay is also looking to have another stellar season. In his second year of captainship, he is hoping to improve on last year’s outstanding season where he managed a 10-5 record in the very competitive tournament bracket at seasons end. Shvartsman posted a beautiful 22-6 season record as a Lower. After coming into the tournament seeded seventh, he shocked the number two seed who had pinned him earlier that season. He put that silver medal next to his gold that he earned at the Northern New England Invitational and looked forward to this year. Worgaftik, who had a14-3 record in dual meets as a freshman, had bad luck in the tournaments, but still managed second place at Class A Interschols. He is hoping this year repeat that performance while improving his record at the Northern New England Invitational and the New England Championships.
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