John Stark fourth while four area wrestlers win titles at Division III championships
Bow's Tony Roberts celebrates his win in the 195-pound weight class finals at the Division III Wrestling Championships at Windham High School on Saturday, February 22, 2014.
ARIANA van den AKKER
Winnisquam's Richey Mills wrestles Newport's Stephan Nix in the 170 weight class finals at the Division III Wrestling Championships at Windham High School on Saturday, February 22, 2014.
ARIANA van den AKKER
WINDHAM – Tony Roberts was going for the pin. He didn’t get it, but the instant the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Bow junior leapt to his feet, his arms raised as teammates and coaches ran to join him in celebration.
Sure, the pin would have been nice. But the win was what he needed.
“I just kept telling myself, ‘I can not lose today,’ ” Roberts said. “No matter what I do, I have to go out there and give everything I’ve got, leave everything on the mat, 100 percent. Because this is where it ends. There’s nothing left.”
With the win at 195 pounds, Roberts joined teammate Peter LaRiviere (138), John Stark’s Nick Widmann (126) and Winnisquam’s Richey Mills (170) as area winners at the Division III wrestling championships at Windham High School. The host Jaguars won the team title with 171.5 points, with Plymouth taking second at 152 and Campbell coming in third at 117. John Stark was the top area team, in fourth at 95.5 points, immediately followed by Winnisquam (73) and Bow (62). Franklin (13th, 21), Kearsarge (14th, 20) and Coe-Brown (19th, 0) also competed.
Stark Coach John Widmann had set a goal of third for his team, but he was pleased with what he got from his Generals, who had top-three finishes and Meet of Champions berths from Andy Hewey (second at 152), Terry Zervos (third at 145) and Kellen Brien (third at 182).
“We had hoped to break the top three, but we came with only 11 wrestlers. We knew it was going to be tough,” Coach Widmann said. “Campbell’s very strong this year, they have a lot of seniors. We knew it was going to be an uphill battle.”
While the other area champions added to strings of dominance (LaRiviere won his third title in four years, Mills won his second in three and Widmann won his second straight), Roberts’s win stood in stark contrast. He didn’t even place as a 182-pounder last year, and his start to the season this year was delayed by a hit taken during football season that dislocated his kneecap and tore his MCL.
Roberts made it back and captured the top seed heading into yesterday’s meet, but knew there was only one appropriate way to finish the season. He went to work with a pin of Kearsarge’s Alton Rorick and a 5-2 win over Windham’s Mike Tanguay, setting up a final against Plymouth’s Nayou Shar. He led only 3-2 at the start of the third period but quickly built the advantage to 5-2, and had Shar locked down with time running out.
The referee gave him three points at the buzzer, making the final 8-2 and giving Roberts his triumphant finishing note.
“I couldn’t let myself down,” he said. “It was amazing. … I worked really hard in the offseason, and it all came together.”
Roberts’s drive was matched by his teammate’s. LaRiviere was a two-time champion before losing his crown as a runner-up last year, and the senior was eager to get it back. He was dominant on his way back to the title, pinning Windham’s Will Carpenter at 1:18, Stark’s Colton Millette (a fourth-place finisher) at 2:41 and Campbell’s Connor Perry at 3:06.
“There was a lot of determination. I wanted to go out with a bang and have a great senior year, and that’s what happened,” LaRiviere said. “(Losing last year) was kind of like a reset. It gave me a lot of motivation to come out here and prove myself.”
Widmann, the Stark coach’s son, reached the final with pins of Souhegan’s Mitch Illacqua and Bow’s Brendan Mooney. He took a 2-0 lead over Campbell’s Ben Billings in the second period, then sidestepped the Cougar’s comeback efforts the rest of the way to win by that margin.
It was Widmann’s second straight time as the top seed, and the junior said he’s completely used to the pressure that comes with being the wrestler to beat.
“It wasn’t a huge difference, pressure-wise,” he said. “I wanted to get as many points as I could, but I wrestled him two weeks ago, so I guess he saw my moves coming.”
Mills atoned for a fourth-place finish on the heels of his 2012 title with a dominant outing, pinning Campbell’s Luis Galvez after only 36 seconds and Plymouth’s Amani Mwingira after 4:44, then finishing with a pin of Newport’s Stephan Nix at 4:01.
Throughout his run, Mills said his goal was to prevent his opponents from sensing a chance to get back in the match.
“Just (be) stingy, it’s the word I like to use” he said. “Don’t give away any of the points, wrestle like I want to wrestle. Don’t let the other guy get an option.”
The Generals also saw a pair of relatively inexperienced wrestlers perform well on the big stage, as first-year competitor Zach Feudner (195) and sophomore Deric Farris (106, fourth place) made the championship semifinals.
Mooney finished third for Bow, notching an 8-6 win at 126 pounds. Kearsarge’s Aaron Carson (113) and Franklin’s Patrick Kaplan (285) were third with consolation final pins, while Winnisquam’s Christian Duquette (152), Dakota Van Tassel (195) and Billy Chavenelle (220) and Kearsarge’s Alex Wesoja (132) were fourth. The top three finishers in each weight class advance to Saturday’s Meet of Champions.
(Drew Bonifant can be reached at 369-3340 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dbonifant.)