Andover wrestled its way to runner-up in the Class A Championships, only missing first by one match. Andover Wrestling had a lot to be proud of this week. Coming into Saturday, Andover was 9-9, ranked sixth among Class A wrestling schools. Last Saturday, Andover traveled up to Exeter to compete in the annual Class A Championship. Coming off of an impressive showing the weekend before at the New England Invitational, Andover hoped to at least place in the top five, but its odds of coming in any higher than third were extremely doubtful. After each round, the team scores were read off in dramatic fashion from lowest to highest score, and at the end of each round the Andover wrestlers listened with bated breath to each name called. After one round of wrestling, Andover was wrestling solidly, and found itself in a respectable fourth place behind Phillips Exeter, Loomis Chaffee, and Northfield Mount Hermon.. As the team scores for the second round were being called out, a group of Andover sat listening together in its section of the bleachers. The announcer said, “And in first place, Andover Academy,” sending the entire Andover bench into a frenzy. Without even realizing it, Andover had quietly snuck into the lead, landing seven of their entered thirteen wrestlers in the semi-finals, with several more wrestlers still alive in the consolation bracket. From there however, Andover’s luck began to run out. In a string of unfortunate draws, Hector Cintron ’08, Scott Sanderson ’09 and Ben Elder ’09 all lost to wrestlers who would eventually go on to win their weight brackets. The three went on to take fourth, third and fourth places respectively. Despite the tough losses, Andover still advanced Duncan Crystal ’09, Reid Mosquera ’09, and both Senior Co-Captains Colin Dunn and Akshay Paintal. At the end of the third round Andover had a slim lead over Loomis Chaffee for second place, while Phillips Exeter had taken a commanding lead with a very strong performance in the semi-finals. After a short break for rest and recuperation, Andover was ready to take to the mat one last time to defend its narrow hold on second place. First up in the finals was Crystal at 112 lbs., who had a rematch against one of the only opponents who had defeated him in dual meet competition this season. Crystal wrestled perhaps his best match of the season, but came up just short of a Class A title, losing by a score of 5-2. Next up was Akshay Paintal at 119, considered by many to be a shoo-in for his second Class A title. However, through a combination of questionable officiating and a beautifully executed match on the part of his opponent, Paintal was upset by a score of 10-8 in one of the most exciting matches of the tournament. Andover’s chances of maintaining its narrow lead over Loomis looked slim at that point. However, at the 135 lb. weight class, Colin Dunn came through in the clutch, dominating his Loomis Chafee opponent by a score of 11-0 for Andover’s only individual Class A title and his second tournament victory of the year. When the final scores for the day were tallied, Andover had edged out Loomis by a score of 166.5-165, earning its best finish since 1999, when Andover last won the tournament. At the end of the day Coach Gorham ’86 addressed his wrestlers, praising not only on their performance, but also on their conduct throughout the tournament. Said Gorham “We really stepped it up today, but that’s not what I’m most proud of. What I’m most proud of today is how we handled ourselves on and off the mat. There were a couple of times today when calls didn’t go our way, or we came up with some tough draws, and in every case we handled ourselves with pride and with dignity.” Gorham went on to cite Paintal and Mosquera in particular for their sportsmanship and their graciousness during their finals matches. The season is now coming to a close for Andover. This Saturday, the team sends five of its top wrestlers to compete at the National Prep tournament in Lehigh, Pennsylvania, and next weekend Andover competes in the New England Championship, its final event of the year.