By Mac Cerullo
---- — BYFIELD — Triton wrestler Mark Boyle has had a season for the ages, and this weekend he’ll look to cap off his high school career with a strong performance at Nationals.
Boyle will be competing in the 182-pound weight category at the NHSCA High School Wrestling Championships, which are being held this weekend in Virginia Beach. If Boyle can finish in the top 8 of his division, he’ll earn All-American honors. But in order to do that, he’ll have to fight his way through a gauntlet of the country’s best wrestlers.
“It’s easily the biggest event I’ve ever been to,” Boyle said. “There were so many kids there to weigh in, there’s thousands of kids, something like 2,800 in total.”
If Boyle has a strong performance at Nationals, it would be the cherry on top of what has already been one of the most dominant seasons the Triton wrestling program has ever seen. Boyle has gone 51-6 this year while winning the Cape Ann League, a Division III North Sectional and Division III State Championships.
He also placed third in his weight class at All-States, and he narrowly missed placing at New Englands, pinning three opponents before being eliminated one round short of the medal stage.
Though he acknowledged that this would be without a doubt the toughest tournament he’s ever participated in, Boyle said he still hopes to compete for all three days of the tournament and go as far as he can.
“I’m hoping to make it through all three days and make it far,” Boyle said. “You don’t know anybody except maybe a couple of kids who signed up from your region, so the competition will tough, but I’m tough too, so we’ll see what happens.”
Boyle is not the first Triton athlete to compete at Nationals; others who have gone include current assistant coach Brandon Hayes in 2004. One advantage Boyle will have that Hayes and others before him didn’t, however, is a place to train against quality competition after the high school season is over.
“They didn’t have clubs like they do now, so a lot of it for Brandon was really on his own,” said Triton coach Shawn McElligott. “But Mark’s been training ever since the season ended at Smitty’s Wrestling Barn. He’s kept up his training and he’ll be wrestling guys who don’t know his style.”
One of the reasons why Boyle has been so effective is his background in judo. In his younger days, Boyle trained with his younger brothers under Olympic Medalist Jimmy Pedro in Wakefield, and in 2007 he won a silver medal at Nationals and placed fourth at the Junior Olympics a week later.
One of the main objectives of judo is to throw your opponent onto their back, and by using some of his best throws in wrestling, he’s often able to catch his opponents off guard. Because of this, McElligott said he thinks Boyle could have a chance to do well this weekend.
“Placing Top 8 and winning All-American, that could be tough, but he could definitely win a few matches,” he said.
The tournament will be broadcast live on www.flowrestling.com. To watch Boyle compete, check the final tournament bracket for his match time and tune in then.