Wrestling Mounts Comeback to Win First Dual Meet of Season

Down 0-4 in his match, Riggs McGrath ’21 came back to clinch a 5-4 victory for Andover Wrestling in its first match of the season. The team defeated St. Paul’s by a score of 33-30 on Wednesday, putting its dual-meet record at 1-0.

Even with many relatively young wrestlers, the team managed to perform well and make the most of the opportunity to compete on Saturday, according to Co-Captain Marisol Nugent ’20.

Nugent said, “I think we performed really well, especially considering that our lineup right now is made up of mostly freshmen and new wrestlers. They all performed exactly as I expected them to… [They] gave it their all on the mat… With our newer wrestlers, I think … getting on a mat for the first time and getting to be in a real match was great, given that everyone stepped out there and knew what they needed to do.”

According to Arnav Bhakta ’22, many team members performed well. Highlights from the match included pins from Co-Captains Eamon Garrity-Rokous ’20 and Nugent, as well as a strong performance by Thomas Radzik ’20, all of which led to the team’s first win against St. Paul’s in two years.

Bhakta said, “I believe that the best move of the match was by Thomas Radzik. We were down 27-30 going into his heavyweight match so he needed to win. He got a nearside cradle and got the pin, and that won us the match. We hadn’t beat St. Paul’s in two years, so it was a bit of revenge.”

The team cites its hard work and focus on fitness as the sources of its success, according to Bhakta and Nugent.

“I think our keys to success were going out and working as hard as we could during the match. St. Paul’s is always a really hype match, since we’re always really close in skill. So it’s important to never give up and to work as hard as you can during every match,” said Bhakta.

Nugent added, “We have been working a lot on our conditioning by doing a lot of live wrestling and making sure that we are all able to last the full match because one of the main challenges about wrestling is making it through the full 6 minutes, which a lot of kids can’t do. For me, that was a big thing, because they really didn’t give up and they wrestled the full six minutes.”

The team looks to improve on its more intricate skills as well as basic fundamentals in hopes of having a successful season, according to Nugent.

Nugent said, “One of the things we probably need to work on is our top and bottom ability. We had a couple wrestlers working looking into a half nelson on bottom, which is a basic fundamental that you shouldn’t do, so we need to brush up on those. I want kids to like the sport, which is a big thing for me. I think a lot of people do wrestling—they try it and don’t love it and don’t come back—so for me, retaining members of the wrestling team is important. I want us to do well in tournaments but as I said, we have a really young team, so I am not going to put super crazy expectations on them.”