For the first time ever, Phillips Academy wrestling has won the Northern New England Invitational Wrestling Tournament (NEIWT). Last Saturday, Andover traveled to Tilton Academy, where the team beat fourteen other schools from around New England to claim the team title; the first team title Andover has won since the 1999 Class A League Championships. Andover placed first with 206.5 points, while a strong Milton team scored 186.5 points to take a second place finish. Worcester placed third, rounding out the top three. Andover has placed in the top three in this tournament for the past few years. In 2005, the team placed third with four weight class champions: Akshay Paintal ’07 for the 103 lb class, Captain Gabe Worgaftik ’06 at 125 lbs, Mark Shvartsman ’05 at 135, and Oludare Adedokun ’05 at 275. Three other Andover wrestlers placed in the top four. Two years ago, the team scored a second place finish, with eight placers and three champions. This year’s tournament proved even more exciting. Four Andover grapplers were champions in their own weight classes, adding to the already formidable list of six other placers. Paintal ’07 obtained a first place finish at 112 lbs, Hector Cintron ’08 won in the 171 lbs division, Victor Vazquez ’06 took first at 145 lbs, and Captain Worgaftik dominated his opponents at 135 lbs. For the third year in a row, Worgaftik claimed the NEIWT crown, winning first place in his weight class once again. Requiring a mere 88 seconds, Paintal pinned all three of his opponents to win his second NEIWT title. Six other placers wrestled their way into the top four. Brian Foye ’06, at 160 lbs, achieved a finish at second place. At 125 lbs, AJ Charles ’08 obtained a fourth place finish. Also getting fourth were Sam Cartmell ’06 at 171 lbs and Alex Clifford ’07 at 189 lbs. Finishing third were Colin Dunn ’07 at 130 lbs and Nick Bowen ’06 at 145 lbs. Bowen was particularly courageous in his first matches. Although he lost his first match to Jason Donovan from Loomis, he came back with renewed strength to decimate his next five opponents, pinning the same Jason Donovan, four matches later. To achieve his second place finish, Foye won his first two matches, but lost a very close and very well-wrestled final match against a Milton Academy wrestler with a score of 6-5. The two wrestlers of this match-up were arguably the best in the tournament. However, there were a great many stars for Andover who did not pull through in the tournament. These include Thao Nguyen ’07, Alice Nam ’07, Kassie Archambault ’06, Ben Elder ’09, and Randy Garcia ’06. On Saturday, Andover’s grapplers wrestled their way to a record of 44-22. Battle tested to the extreme, Big Blue will face Exeter in a dual meet on Wednesday and is also preparing for the Class A League Tournament next Saturday, where it will match up against the top wrestlers in all of New England.