Despite competing amongst hundreds of wrestlers, Andover Girls Wrestling did not let the 200 school tournament stifle its mentality. With Sakina Cotton ’24, Dani Nugent ’25, and Eleanor DeHoog ’24 all claiming champion titles along with Head Coach Archambault receiving two seperate awards, the team’s season has ended on a commendable note.
Head Coach Kassie Archambault ’06 credited the team’s success to its open mindedness in learning and performing. She believed the wrestlers brought an abundance of energy, heading into matches with strong mentalities and applying skills from the season’s cumulative lessons.
“Our wrestlers were tough and aggressive, and implemented everything we’ve been working on all season at the tournaments. They are incredibly coachable and make real time adjustments during the matches as we coach them,” wrote Coach Archambault in an email to The Phillipian.
One of the champions, Eleanor DeHoog ’24 pointed out Cotton’s championship matches. Despite being a new wrestler, Cotton managed to take control of her opponents, according to DeHoog. Cotton pinned her championship round competition within the first one and a half minutes to take first place.
DeHoog said, “I would say probably Sakina was amazing, because she’s also a first time wrestler this year. So, she [had] two matches [and] she just completely dominated both of her matches. And she came out with a great one. So it was really exciting to watch her.”
Cotton recalled her semi-final matches and how she was able to defeat her first opponent on their speed and ability to create shots right as the whistle blew. Cotton also enjoyed wrestling someone new from DC, rather than just from the New England area. Her excitement was rooted in her opponents’ experience and aggression, which provided a learning opportunity for Cotton.
Cotton said, “I’ve never wrestled somebody who had such quick shots. So the coach was telling me [that] she shoots almost right off the whistle. And normally, I just lock up with people, like you’ll see when people are in the resting position, but just have their hands tied around the others’ necks, grabbing their arms, like I usually lock up. But she was very quick and aggressive, so it was nice. I won by a major decision, so basically I didn’t pin her. It was just a lot of wrestling, but very exciting and a lot of experience.”
According to Coach Archambault, fellow champion Nugent, experienced similar success to Cotton. Coach Archambault noted how Nugent took down her opponents with ease and in the final round was able to win by major decision against a talented wrestler.
Coach Archambault wrote, “At Nationals, Dani Nugent ’25 had an incredible tournament. She won her first two matches by pin in the first period. Her finals match was a dominant 8-0 victory against an experienced opponent.”
Partnered with the success of the players, Coach Archambault was named NEPSWA Coach of the Year as well as the National Prep Coach of the Year. She saw these victories as displays of the team’s hard work throughout the entire season.
“I was incredibly honored to have been recognized as NEPSWA coach of the year and National Prep coach of the year. I’ve been working hard to expand opportunities for all girls in this sport, and to create an environment in our program where everyone is welcome. I couldn’t do any of it without the support of my coaching staff, and without the buy in and work ethic of my team,” wrote Coach Archambault.
Cotton was joyful to see her coach get recognition for her greatness but also believes that even without these awards, Coach Archambault has been an integral and influential part of the team.
“I was really happy to see Coach A [Archambault]. get the Coach of the Year Award at the tournament, and I thought that obviously she doesn’t need anybody to tell her that she’s doing a great job, especially not recognition from them. But it was really nice to see other people getting to know her work and what she’s doing, because she is doing most of the work with organizing the girls tournament but also being our head coach. And so I thought it was really cool to see her up there,” said Cotton.