SHARON, Mass. – North Attleboro has a lot of experience in dealing with the pressure of dual meets that can decide a league championship. It is essentially something that the Rocketeers deal with every season, but for Sharon this was a rare opportunity.
With a crowded gym cheering them on, the Eagles continued their historic season by putting together a solid team effort and handing North Attleboro a 37-19 loss. The win clinches Sharon at least a share of the Davenport division title, its first league dual meet crown. If the Eagles win the final meet against Stoughton, it would end North’s run of five straight league title across the Kelley-Rex and Davenport divisions.
“It feels great,” said Sharon coach Jeff Sonis. “The kids have put in so much work. We have kids come back and workout with them all the time. The kids deserve all the credit, they do all the wrestling, doing all the clubs and camps. They do everything it takes to win.”
North coach Geoff Burgess knew that his team was in for a tough night against the Eagles, particularly with an open spot at 120 that would be a free six points for Sharon. He praised the hosts for the effort that they put in during the off-season workouts.
“Their kids put in all the hard work in the off-season,” he said. “They were all at club. They were religious about it too, there every day, so they deserve it. Their kids wrestled fantastic tonight.”
It was hardly a runaway win for Sharon, as the teams combined for only three pins on the night and none of those pins occurred before the third period of a match.
The turning point of the meet came in the ninth match. At 220 pounds (the meet started at 132), Keysun Wise led 2-0 heading into the third period. Rhamsez Thevenin had a reversal to tie the match, only for Wise to escape and regain the lead. Inside the final minute, Thevenin thought he had won it with another near fall, but again Wise managed to escape with just 12 seconds remaining to send the match into overtime at 4-4.
In overtime, Thevenin didn’t settle for just getting the takedown that would win it, he also followed through and got the pin and six points for his team, pushing the lead to 24-12 and ratcheting up the noise in the gym to a new level.
“The pin at 220 by Rhamsez was huge for us in overtime,” Sonis explained. “We tell our kids all the time to fight through overtime, a pin in overtime counts the same. I think it was the turning point. That goes the other way and things would be a lot closer than I would’ve liked.”
John Kummer followed that match with a solid 11-0 win at 285 pounds, but he was frustrated in his attempts to get the pin right back and had to settle for four points for North. Adam Landstein continued his excellent season with a 10-2 victory at 106 and Ben Shocket scored a 13-11 victory over Alex Yan at 113 to put Sharon up 31-16.
Shocket’s win basically sealed the meet and title, as a walk-over at 120 meant six more points for the Eagles. Ethan Smith closed out the meet with a 10-5 victory at 126, but the three points were only consolation for the Rocketeers.
“Nice home crowd, chance to win a league championship, and every single dual meet is like this for them where it comes down to every bout and they just won all the close bouts,” said Burgess. “We just weren’t tough enough. We probably could’ve won four more bouts, they were that close.”
Sharon built an early lead through the first four matches. After Chris Galligan opened the meet with a 6-1 win at 132 pounds, the Eagles won four straight to jump in front. Aaron Cashton rolled to a 9-2 win at 138, Max Pozner had a pair of takedowns in the third period to win 10-5 at 145, Kirit Gossety won 7-1 at 152, and Tyler Freedman closed out his match with a third period pin to make it 15-3 overall.
Austin Dean won 7-0 at 170 pounds to get North three points back and Mike Edmonds grabbed six points with a pin inside the final minute of the third period at 182. Eric Rabkin put Sharon back in front by six (18-12) when his third period escape proved to be the only scoring in a 1-0 win against Alex Warsofsky at 195.
“I tell my kids all the time that dual meets can come down to a kid not getting pinned, a kid losing only by seven,” Burgess said. “There are numerous instances in our past where the moral victory is sometimes just as good as the actual victory.”
Sharon has had good teams in the past and individual wrestlers who have brought home titles at state and New England meets, but the Eagles had never broken through and won a league championship before this season.
When asked what separated this year’s team from others in the past, Sonis replied, “We have a lot of depth. We have 28 kids with a varsity win. We have 45 kids who work hard at practice. They work hard, they push each other, we have great leadership from the seniors, and the kids rally behind each other. I think they really enjoy being with each other.”
Sharon (21-2) will head to North Attleboro for the league cross-over quad meet on Saturday on before closing out the league campaign against Stoughton on Wednesday. North Attleboro (9-8) will host the quad and face-off against Franklin, King Philip, and Taunton before hosting Foxboro next Wednesday.