By Dan Guttenplan
---- — At the end of this season, Triton wrestlers and brothers Luke and Mark Boyle will likely rank first and second, respectively, on the school’s all-time wins list.
Luke Boyle, a junior, has 113 career wins — just 32 shy of the school’s all-time record of 145 set by Brandon Hayes (Class of 2004). Older brother Mark, a senior, has 110 career wins to his record, certainly within striking distance of Hayes’ mark considering he had 41 wins last season.
So, it seems to reason that the Boyle brothers are the best wrestlers in program history. Right?
Not necessarily. While the Boyles will certainly end up on the short list of Triton’s all-time best wrestlers, the statistic for career wins can’t serve as the only criteria to measure greatness.
The biggest difference between the modern wrestling era and that of the 1970s, ‘80s and 90s is the increased number of competitions per season. A local wrestler might have competed in 20 to 25 matches per year in the 1980s, whereas now, with the addition of quad meets and tournaments, some wrestlers might compete in up to 50 matches per year.
“The milestone is difficult to compare with wrestlers from the past,” Pentucket assistant coach Steve Beaudoin said. “The kids are wrestling many more matches during a season. You also can’t compare the wrestlers without knowledge of the number of years that they are allowed to participate and the strength of the team’s schedule.”
The last point best explains the small disparity in wins between the Boyle brothers, even though Luke is a year younger. Luke joined the Triton team as an eighth-grader, the same year Mark joined as a freshman. If Luke even approaches the win total he delivered last year as a sophomore over the next two seasons, he could finish his career with close to 190 career wins.
In his 16 seasons as Triton’s head coach, Shawn McElligott has coached 13 wrestlers who have eclipsed the 100-win mark. Six of those wrestlers have taken the mat as recently as 2010, and three of them (the Boyle brothers and Victor Ramirez) achieved the feat last season.
“It is still a difficult task,” McElligott said. “If you are a varsity wrestler for four years, you have to average 25 wins or better to obtain this achievement,” McElligott said. “Even if you wrestler as an eighth-grader, you have to average over 20 wins. To ask an eighth-grader or freshman to average that many wins is not really going to happen. So, to get to the achievement, I believe, says something about your career.”
In his 11 seasons as Pentucket’s head coach, Dennis Puleo has coached only two 100-win wrestlers — 2013 graduates and brothers Tom and Jeff Funk. Junior Josh Wesolowski is on pace to be Puleo’s third 100-win wrestler. After posting 41 wins as a sophomore last season, Wesolowski has 60 wins entering his junior season.
“Historically, we only wrestled about 13 matches a year,” Puleo said. “Only recently, with teams wrestling in quads and tournaments have the number of matches crept up. Theoretically, it might take a full four years with extended seasons to reach that goal.”
The one way in which it might be easier to achieve a career-long goal in wrestling — rather than, say, the 100-point mark in hockey or the 1,000-point mark in basketball — is the fact that the sport divides the competition into weight classes. So, an undersized freshman would certainly have a better chance of earning regular varsity time on the wrestling mat than in a hockey rink. Perhaps, for wrestling practice purposes, there is something to be said for growing up in a house with a similarly aged brother. Beaudoin believes brothers Paul, Ken and Michael Bianchi, who wrestled at Pentucket in the 1990s, also eclipsed the 100-win mark for their respective careers. Between the Boyles, Funks and Bianchis, the three families have accounted for more than 900 wins on the mat.
The 100-Win Club
The following Triton and Pentucket wrestlers reached the 100-win mark during the tenures of Triton 16-year coach Shawn McElligott and Pentucket 11-year coach Dennis Puleo.
Name, School Total wins Graduation Year
Brandon Hayes, Triton 145 2004
Tom Funk, Pentucket 131 2013
Victor Ramirez, Triton 125 2013
Todd Oljey, Triton 120 1995
Bill Blanchette, Triton 118 2006
Luke Boyle, Triton 113 2015
Kyle Romano, Triton 111 2004
Mike Seale, Triton 111 2005
Mark Boyle, Triton 110 2014
Jeff Funk, Pentucket 110 2013
Bryan Giblin, Triton 108 2012
Frank Wetenkamp, Triton 107 2004
Josh Page, Triton 102 2003
Dan Chandler, Triton 101 2010
Cody Miller, Triton 101 2011