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Andover Wrestlers Excel In Northern Invitational Tournament

Placing third in the 145-pound weight group, Co-Captain Justin Muchnick ’16 won his match in an Ultimate Tiebreaker, the third overtime period, at the Northern Invitational Tournament on Saturday. Strong performances by Co-Captains Ian Blythe ’16 and Muchnick propelled Andover Wrestling to an impressive third place finish in the event. The team competed against 17 schools and tied Lexington Christian Academy with 121 points.

Complementing the team’s success, two female Andover wrestlers competed in a separate event, the Masco Youth Female Tournament, on Saturday. Josie Simmons ’17 and Martha Gao ’17 placed second and third place in their weight groups, respectively.

At the Northern Invitational Tournament, Blythe placed second in the 160-pound weight group. Kal Parvanov ’16, Alex Cleveland ’17, Pierce Bausano ’18 and Adam Cohen ’18 claimed second, third, third and fourth place finishes in their weight groups, respectively.

Head Coach Rich Gorham wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “The team definitely turned in their best performance of the season at Northerns.”

After falling to their opponents in the main draw of the tournament, Muchnick and Bausano faced the same wrestlers in their third place matches and were able to reverse their losses with wins.

Bausano said, “In our third place matches, [Muchnick] and I both got the opportunity to wrestle the players who had beaten us earlier in the tournament. Mentally, this is a pretty tough thing to do, but we both got wins, and Muchnick got his win in a pretty spectacular fashion, beating his opponent in an Ultimate Tiebreaker.”

Quint Finney ’18, Evan Park ’18, Moyo Oyebode ’18, Jack O’Neil ’19 and Christian Milotte ’16 also contributed to Andover’s 31 individual match victories.

In an email to The Phillipian, Parvanov wrote, “I wrestled hard and tried to have a good strategy. I executed low risk moves, stayed in a good stance and did my best to wrestle aggressively. [As a whole], the team has done pretty well. Coach Gorham told the team that Northerns was tougher than usual this year, so the fact that we were tied for third place at the end is quite an achievement.”

Andover looks to build upon its momentum from Northerns at the Class A Interschols Tournament this upcoming weekend.

Parvanov said, “Now that we have seen what we can do if we work hard, I think that we can go after Class A’s with everything that we have got. We’ll do our best to try to place even higher than we did at Northerns.”

Bausano said, “A strong performance is always nice, but we are really just going to be looking forward and focusing on our week ahead of hard practice before the Class A League Tournament next weekend.”

At the Masco Youth Female Tournament, Simmons and Gao found similar success. Simmons went 2-1 for second place, while Gao went 1-2 for third place. Gao won a 4-1 decision before losing two close 3-0 and 5-0 decisions.

Gao said, “My main opponent was a very experienced girl who was very difficult to wrestle, so I think I did a good job staying tough and on my feet to not concede many points to her.”

“From my experience, female wrestlers are generally tougher to wrestle than male ones.

Biologically, our center of balance is closer to the ground than [that of] boys, so it’s harder to hit the moves that usually work. Also from my personal experience, female wrestlers who stick with the sport are generally more stubborn than their male counterparts, because we’ve also had to prove ourselves to our male teammates. On Saturday, it was tough for me to get off the mat and back to my feet, so I had to hit my moves a lot quicker than usual to actually complete them,” continued Gao.
Looking forward, the girls will compete in one more female-only tournament this month before heading out to the Nationals tournament at Lehigh University in March. The team as a whole will compete at Interschols this weekend.