Vallis, Sheikh and Palmer Advance to Nationals

Last Saturday, Andover placed 11th out of the 46 teams at the New England Championships, hosted by Choate Rosemary Hall, with an impressive final score of 65 points. Three Andover wrestlers medaled and will compete at the National Prep School tournament this weekend. NMH dominated the championships for the fourth year in a row and won another team New England title. “I think 11th place is not bad for us, especially when we are such a young team, but I think as a team we wanted a top ten finish. For the three of us going to nationals, I think our goal is definitely to be all-Americans,” said Captain Christian Vallis ’14. Because Vallis is only an Upper, he hopes to lead Andover to a top ten finish next year in his last season as a part of Andover Wrestling. “Our team has definitely improved over the course of this season. Overall, we had a very good season, but we will need a great offseason to be where we want to be next year,” he added. “Teams like NMH will be losing a lot of Seniors, so we have a great chance to take over the title from them next year.” All three wrestlers from Andover who qualified for New Englands this Sunday are underclassmen, so the future is bright for Andover Wrestling. At 120 pounds, Vallis placed second. In the 170 weight class, James Palmer ’14 also finished second. Vallis had two pins and a 6-2 decision, and Palmer had three pins. Andover’s last medalist, Andreas Sheikh ’15, placed third at 106 pounds. Although Sheikh was seeded fifth, he exceeded expectations on Saturday and beat a wrestler to whom he had previously lost to and managed to capture his third place medal. Vallis said, “We wrestled tough on Saturday, but we definitely have things to improve on before Nationals. We’ve been working hard tweaking little mistakes that we had on Saturday.” Andover has been inconsistent throughout the season and ends with a 5-6-0 record. Although Andover lost to Exeter 36-40 in its last meet before the tournament, it was able to enter the New Englands tournament competitive and hopeful. All three medalists, Palmer, Vallis and Sheikh, have qualified to compete at the National Prep School tournament this Friday and Saturday at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Andover hopes to perform well at the tournament and end its season on a high note.