With 14 wrestlers sent to the Class A Interschols tournament, eight members of the team finished the day qualifying for the New England Championships. Andover Wrestling placed fourth out of 12 schools, bringing the overall season record to 10-5 and Class A league record to 6-2.
The team’s varsity starters performed well, putting up two first place victories from Co-Captain Eamon Garrity-Rokous ’20 at 170 pounds and Colin Nugent ’23 at 126 pounds. Miles Palmer ’23 and Arnav Bhakta ’22 also placed well, earning a runner up position in the 113 pound and 120 pound weight categories, respectively.
According to Garrity-Rokous, Andover was able to showcase its strength and improvement, especially through the younger members of the team.
“We… performed pretty well. I think that some of our end matches or in some of our tougher matches, we were a little more timid than I would have liked. Overall, I think a lot of our wrestlers performed very well, and I think we went up there to kick [butt], and I think we did that in a lot of aspects. We showed that Andover Wrestling is a very deep program, and we’re going to hopefully be a very strong wrestling team in the near future,” said Garrity-Rokous.
The Interschols Class A tournament this Saturday determined the setup for the New England Championships, where in two weeks, the eight wrestlers chosen will compete for a chance to move onto National Preps. Due to the all-female tournament hosted by Andover, New Englands will also feature a new women’s division. In these next weeks, the team looks to continue its hard work as well as touching on small adjustments, according to Somen Chakrabortti ’22 and Garrity-Rokous.
“Everyone has their own little things that need adjustments, but I think that one thing I noticed late in matches, like in the third period, when we’re all out of gas, we tend to relax and not keep a good stance, and keeping good position is pretty important,” said Chakrabortti.
Garrity-Rokous added, “It definitely gave us a lot of perspective on what we need to improve on. We have nearly two weeks until New England’s. All of our eight wrestlers who have qualified and are going, that will definitely be the focus of practice, on those eight guys, that we’re all prepared for New England’s. We’ll definitely be working on a lot of stuff that we saw in our matches that we can improve on, but I think that we’re in a good place right now.”
On January 26, Andover hosted 74 female wrestlers for its annual all-female tournament for the seventh year, featuring a clinic from two-time Olympian and World Champion Elena Pirozhkova.
According to Co-Captain Marisol Nugent ’20 and Head Coach Kassie Archambault ’06, this tournament allowed for the New England women’s wrestling community to grow and support each other.
“For us to have schools like Andover hosting these big women’s wrestling events is so empowering for all these girls who normally don’t have opportunities to compete against each other. Wrestling is an incredibly male-dominated sport, like most of the girls who you talk to that do wrestle are on a boys team and never get to wrestle against other girls. It’s such an incredible feeling to also compete against someone of the same gender, because I know for a lot of these girls, when we wrestle against these guys, we are physically impared,” said Nugent.
Archambault said, “It’s a co-ed sport, but sometimes girls don’t get the opportunity to show how good they are until they get the opportunity to be wrestling against other girls, so that’s something we’ve done for seven years. Unfortunately, none of our wrestlers participated in it, because they were all sick or injured for that day, but it’s still an amazing event. The female wrestling community is really small, so people [were able to] make friends. Especially if they’re the only girl on their team to see that there are 74 other girls in this room that all wrestle and understand what it’s like to be a wrestler on a boys team, there’s a real sense of camaraderie and sport.”
Andover will travel to Hartford, Connecticut in two weeks to compete in the New England Championships.