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Tide wrestlers take third, send 12 to MOC

  • Calvin Crowell of Concord competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Calvin Crowell of Concord competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Connor Stadnicki of Concord competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Connor Stadnicki of Concord competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Chris Munnell of Concord competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Chris Munnell of Concord competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Dan Lawrence of Concord competes against Keene's Matthew Bush in an early-round, 145-pound match in yesterday's Division 1 championship. Lawrence won, 8-5, then went on to claim fifth place with an overtime win in his 5th/6th-place matchup. <br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Dan Lawrence of Concord competes against Keene's Matthew Bush in an early-round, 145-pound match in yesterday's Division 1 championship. Lawrence won, 8-5, then went on to claim fifth place with an overtime win in his 5th/6th-place matchup.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Tyshawn Roberts, of Concord, competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Tyshawn Roberts, of Concord, competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • George Tarwo of Concord competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    George Tarwo of Concord competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Connor Stadnicki of Concord competes during the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Connor Stadnicki of Concord competes during the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Calvin Crowell of Concord competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • Connor Stadnicki of Concord competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • Chris Munnell of Concord competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • Dan Lawrence of Concord competes against Keene's Matthew Bush in an early-round, 145-pound match in yesterday's Division 1 championship. Lawrence won, 8-5, then went on to claim fifth place with an overtime win in his 5th/6th-place matchup. <br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • Tyshawn Roberts, of Concord, competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • George Tarwo of Concord competes in the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • Connor Stadnicki of Concord competes during the Division 1 Wrestling Championships on Saturday, February 22, 2014.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

Concord placed only one wrestler in the finals and didn’t have a single champion in yesterday’s Division I championships. But the Crimson Tide was smiling as it rolled up its home mats at the end of the day.

The Tide was in the hunt for second place before taking a solid third as a team, improving on last year’s fourth-place finish. And 12 of Concord’s 14 wrestlers placed in the top six to qualify for next week’s Meet of Champions.

“The kids gave everything and it was a great day for us,” Tide Coach Ham Munnell said. “We haven’t qualified 12 kids in a long time. We’ve had better teams, more talented, but this is one of the best efforts that we’ve ever had in the 20 years I’ve been doing this. We didn’t have a soft match out there, not one all day. We lost some, but we were going hard.”

Timberlane finished with 200 team points, and four individual champions, to win its 15th straight D-I title. Londonderry, a team some thought could steal Timberlane’s crown, was second with 161 and Concord finished with 149, although the gap between the Lancers and the Tide was just three points (144-141) heading into the finals round. Nashua North (121) and Manchester Central (114.5) rounded out the top five.

Concord’s chances of catching Londonderry faded early in the finals round (which starts at 106 pounds and moves up) as Nate Engel (113), Connor Stadnicki (120) and Brandon Simpson (126) dropped three straight matches on the third-fourth-place mat. All wrestled well to take fourth, and Stadnicki gave Manchester Memorial’s Devin Johnson a run for third before losing, 9-7. But they weren’t getting Concord any closer in the team standings.

Alex Kamau watched all three of those matches before he took to the same mat for the 132 third-fourth match, and he knew he needed to do something to change the Tide’s momentum.

“It was motivation,” Kamau said. “It makes you want to pick up the team and get us going.”

Kamau also had some motivation because he lost to his opponent, Nashua North’s Peter Daniels, in the first dual meet of the season when Daniels claimed a 10-8 decision in the closing seconds. Despite that added incentive, Kamau was trailing 1-0 going into the final period. The Concord junior was on bottom to start the third and he quickly escaped, but he hung on to Daniels and eventually worked a two-point reversal to take a 2-1 lead with 1:18 left on the clock.

“I was looking for the reversal because I didn’t think I had the energy to take him down again,” Kamau said.

But Kamau did have plenty of energy to keep Daniels from getting a one-point escape. Three times Daniels got to his feet in that final minute, and three times Kamau threw him back to the mat. Daniels nearly escaped with a roll on a restart with five seconds left, but Kamau countered in time to earn the 2-1 decision.

“I was hanging on for dear life,” Kamau said. “I thought he was going to get away, but I just kept hanging on.”

After that win, the Tide claimed three straight overtime decisions. Freshman Chris Munnell (138) trailed by two points with less than a minute left before forcing overtime and eventually taking an 8-6 decision against Keene’s Jordan Suarez for fifth place. Dan Lawrence (145) was down a point with 50 seconds left in his match against Salem’s Jake Genest, then went up a point with 35 seconds to go only to see Genest knot the score at 4-4 10 seconds later. But Lawrence found the necessary energy in overtime to take Genest down and take fifth.

Ian Wagner (152) finished the run of overtime wins when he earned a 4-2 decision over Timberlane’s Cameron Altobelli to take third. But to be fair to Wagner, whose only loss of the day was against eventual champion Kyle Peterson from Manchester Central, he dominated Altobelli for the majority of the match.

It was a surprise Wagner was up only 2-0 with less than a minute left, and even more of a surprise when Altobelli worked a two-point reverse to tie the score. It looked like Altobelli might steal the win when he landed a double shot late in the first overtime period, but Wagner defended with strength, spun out of the hold and got the two points for the win with six seconds left.

After that, the Tide had to settle for two more fourth-place results – Calvin Crowell at 170 and George Tarwo at 182 – before its lone finalist took center stage as Walters Ndi squared off against Nashua North’s Joe Chimelski in one of the most anticipated matches of the day.

Ndi beat Chimelski for the D-I title last year, but Chimelski turned the tables at the 2013 MOC and beat Ndi again in the season-opening dual meet this year.

“I knew it was going to be hard, I was ready for that, and so I tried to push the pace early because I knew I needed to work myself even harder,” Ndi said.

The plan worked as Ndi scored a first-period takedown and was up 2-1 after two. But to start the third Chimelski was on top, which is his strong suit, and he took advantage, scoring two quick points to take a 3-2 lead. Ndi looked for that one-point escape to tie things, but he couldn’t solve Chimelski, who scored three more back points in the final seconds for a 6-2 win.

“I didn’t run out of gas at the end, I just kind of lost my composure,” Ndi said. “He’s long and lanky, and he’s got an advantage because he’s so long, and he’s not like any other wrestler that I face. So he’s just kind of strange, and he’s tough when he’s scrambling, so you have to respect that.”

The Tide couldn’t find a win in its final two matches, either, as Tyshon Roberts (220) took sixth and Dylan Naylor (285) finished fourth. But they will both be in action again on Saturday as part of the Tide’s 12-man MOC contingent.

“We don’t have many experienced wrestlers, but we had so many guys place, and I really like that,” said Ndi, Concord’s lone senior captain. “I think my team did great today.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)

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