FOXBORO, Mass. – Fittingly, the first league dual meet since the divisional split between the top two wrestling programs in the history of the Hockomock and the meet that could eventually decide the Davenport division champion was only decided by the slimmest of margins.
Six of Wednesday night’s 14 matches were decided by two points or less. Only two matches were ended in pins with one walk over, two major victories, and a technical fall.
In the end, North Attleboro did just enough to pick up the 31-24 road victory at longtime rival Foxboro. With the victory, North put itself in control of its own destiny as it tries to mark its first season in the Davenport by winning the league’s dual meet title.
Following the meet, both coaches expressed admiration for their opposition.
“We knew this was going to be a close match,” said North coach Wayne Griffin. “We’ve been following Coach Ivatts for the past couple years and he’s doing a wonderful job over here with these kids. That was a heck of a match.”
Foxboro coach Billy Ivatts, who was also a wrestler in this rivalry and a three-time state champion for the Warriors, said of having North Attleboro back on the league schedule, “I love it. I like having them here. It’s good for the kids to get the competition. It’s good for later on down the road to have that close match experience and just obviously wish it turned out a little differently.”
Starting at 126 pounds, Foxboro jumped out to an early lead. Tom Gallagher picked up a second round pin to open the night, but North cut the lead in half at 132 when Brandon Graveline got a third round takedown of Phil Dure to win that match 6-5 heading into Foxboro’s strongest two wrestlers, Matt and Brian Kelley.
The twins, both seniors, added two more wins to their already impressive careers (Matt became the program’s all-time leader in wins, beating out his coach’s record, earlier this season), but neither could get the maximum points. Matt won 13-1 and Brian got five points for his 15-0 tech, but North managed to avoid getting pinned.
“The Kelley kids are awesome,” said Griffin. “You’re wrestling someone who is very good and your job is to go out and compete, but you can win a match by not getting pinned. They know Nick Gould is our top guy and they employed the same strategy.”
Gould, fresh off a win at the Marshfield Holiday Tournament last week, got a major win at 152 and cut Foxboro’s lead in the meet to 15-7.
That led into arguably the match of the night. North’s Adam Eberle took a blow to the top of his head and had to be extensively bandaged to stop the bleeding, but he managed to pull out a dramatic win against Max Dorman, who also needed attention at one point from the trainer.
Eberle fell behind 4-2 with 30 seconds remaining in the match but tied it with a takedown 20 seconds later. He got another takedown early in the overtime period to seal the win.
He split his head open,” said Griffin of Eberle, “and it was almost like the Roman warriors, but he’ll go home and get a couple stitches and he’ll do a good job.”
Matt Mullaly got Foxboro going again at 170 with a first round pin and Dave Dow got the winning point on a third round escape to win 4-3 over Reid Wills at 182 to put the Warriors ahead 24-10. From that point on, North would win the final six matches to come out on top.
“It was a tough weight class for us to start with,” Ivatts admitted. “You know where their good wrestlers are and they know where our good wrestlers are and you can kind of have it all mapped out… They made all the right moves and won some matches I think we should’ve won and they took it.”
Mateusz Kudra (195), Brad White (220) and John Kummer (285) each pulled in three points for the Rocketeers, as the lightweights got prepared. Foxboro only had Adam Lanctot to wrestle at either 106 or 113, so Ivatts chose to forfeit the match at 106 against Brady Folan, who beat Lanctot in their last match, to try and give his team a shot in the final two matches.
“Their 106 is really good and we didn’t want to lose both,” said Ivatts of giving North its first lead at 25-24. “We thought we could get the win at 113 but unfortunately it didn’t work out. If we get the three [points] there, then it kind of goes back in our favor.”
Lanctot came back to tie Dan Cooper at 4-4 in the third round after an escape, but Copper answered back with a takedown that turned out to be the winning move in a 6-5 thriller that Griffin said “sealed” the meet.
“It was a great high school dual meet,” said Ivatts. “Especially at the high school level it’s always pin or be pinned really, so you could just see the caliber of wrestling from both teams is really high.”
When asked what this meant in terms of the league title race, Griffin admitted, “This was the match. No disrespect to anyone else, but this was the match.
“I think that’s a fair assessment, but who knows what the future can bring. Kids get sick, they get injured, they rise to the occasion, but this is a step in the right direction.”