, Newburyport, MA

February 12, 2014

A regular season to remember

By Tim Lima
Sports Reporter

---- — Triton has concluded its regular season on the mat, but what the program has demonstrated over the course of three months is undeniable.

Triton began the year with many unanswered questions. It had a roster with room to spare and a plethora of young, inexperienced talent, leading many to question what the Vikings were capable of. Was this a team that could not only compete in the CAL, but also grow as a program in the process? Or, was this a team down in both numbers and popularity that was destined to fall further as the season progressed?

With a 4-4 beginning to its season, the latter appeared likely, but what followed was a series of shattered records, personal achievements and 17 wins in the season’s last 19 contests.

The Vikings’ run began at the Lowell Holiday Tournament, where a school-record three Vikings placed in the prestigious tournament. From there, Triton won first place at the Brookline Warrior Duals Tournament, and just like that, a 4-4 record on Jan. 4 was improved to an 11-4 record in just one week.

Triton finished third in the league this season, just a half-point behind second-place Masconomet in the standings. While there was no CAL crown to be worn in Byfield, it was not a tournament rid of achievement for the Vikings. Cody Nixon set a personal milestone in his third and final match of the league tournament by beating his Lynnfield/North Reading opponent 2-0.

“I knew that was going to be my 100th win,” Nixon said after his big win. “I went out there and I took him down in the first period. From there, what was in my head was that I wasn’t going to lose the match and I didn’t.”

Then, Luke Boyle reached an individual achievement while rewriting program history in the process. At the MIAA State Dual Meet Tournament, Boyle became Triton’s all-time wins leader with 146, breaking a 10-year-old record.

“It’s a blessing that I was able to reach this point,” Boyle said. “I went out like it was any other match, I showed respect, shook [my opponent’s] hand and got a lot of praise from my teammates afterwards.”

It was a tournament that Triton eyed as the season progressed, and its wrestlers didn’t disappoint as the Vikings reached the state semifinals.

The tournament began with a 45-36 win over Josiah Quincy, where eight Vikings tallied wins. Brody Johnson, Jake Durkin, Cody Nixon, John Boyle, Mark Boyle, Luke Boyle and Alec Moffat all won by fall for Triton, while Josh Misiano won by an 8-7 decision.

Though getting strong contributions from his team, coach Shawn McElligott knew that a more complete effort was needed to progress to the later stages of the tournament.

“You could tell the kids were a little off a bit to start,” he said. “Josiah Quincy wrestled really well; we just had a little more.”

Moving to the quarterfinals round, Triton instilled into its program a memory that won’t soon be forgotten. Facing the No. 4 seed Monument Mountain High School, a team that won 21 of its 24 meets, it took tie-breaking points to find a decision — due in large part to one of the younger Vikings.

As only a freshman, Lewi L’Heureux fell to Monument Mountain captain Sebastia Zapata 11-1, though not getting pinned saved his team points. Also propelling his team was Mark Boyle, who pinned last year’s state finalist Jonah Christianson.

These two strong performances allowed for a 40-40 score at the conclusion of the meet. Triton eventually won the meet because of their ability to score first on its opponents and moved on to the semifinal round.

“This was by far our best effort upsetting a very good Monument Mountain team,” McElligott said. “Everyone on the team worked so hard to achieve this.”

While Triton’s state championship run came to a halt in the semifinals round against Norton, losing 51-19, it capped off an unforeseen year of success and program progression.

“It was a great run,” McElligott said. “Nobody would have predicted that we would be in the state semifinals except the kids. I said it many times: They are a very close group that feed off each other and believed in each other. I am very happy how we ended our regular season with a 21-6 record and fourth place in Division III.”

All that remains on the 2014 campaign is the Sectionals Tournament, which will take place this weekend at Danvers High School.

When it is all said and done, Triton’s seniors will be bid adieu. The mats will be rolled and stowed and the sights will set to what awaits — likely a program wealthy in athletes, new records to be broken and a new practice room.