Wrestlers Must Step Up To Fill Big Shoes

Anchored by Co-Captains Christian Vallis ’14 and Sven Lerner ’13, Andover Wrestling looks to cement its status as an elite program this season.

The team is hopeful that it can make up for the loss of several key members from last year’s team, including All-American Colton Dempsey ’12, who now wrestles for Stanford University.

Vallis said, “We lost both our captains from last year and some very important Seniors. It’s going to be a challenge leading a team with so many new wrestlers, but I believe we can come together and be a strong contender once again for the New England title.”

“It is going to be interesting to see what some of the new kids can bring in their first year,” said James Palmer ’14.

Three new coaches were hired for the upcoming season to assist Head Coach Rich Gorham. Palmer said, “The three new coaches are a great addition. I’m really looking forward to having some more coaches around for help in the room and whatever new techniques the new coaches bring.”

Vallis, a highly talented wrestler who became an All-American his Junior year, will look to other members of the team to help carry the load. “Individually, several of our upperclassmen can definitely wrestle with the best in our league,” Vallis said. “I especially have high expectations for James Palmer and Sven Lerner.”

Auggie Horner ’14 said, “[Palmer]’s a gifted wrestler because he’s both huge and skilled. That’s such a rare combination, and it allows him to overpower his opponents with both brute force and technicality.”

Andover will open the season on Saturday against Nobles, but Palmer is especially looking forward to the meet at Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH), typically a rivalry match, on January 11. “NMH always gives us a really tough match,” he said. “They are always one of the best teams in our league. They have great coaching and a bunch of talent, and it will be fun to compete against them again this year.”

Vallis knows that the upcoming year will not be easy. “Personally, I know I will have some difficult matches that will test both my endurance and talent,” he said. “My match with Worcester Academy will be a rematch of my New England Finals match.”

In addition to its two captains, the team will look toward experienced Senior Nikhil Baradwaj ’13 for leadership. Max Carrillo-Ostrow ’13 will be out for the season with an injury from the football season this past fall.