WILMINGTON — History repeated itself Saturday at the 37th annual Cape Ann League Invitational.
North Andover won its 22nd title by scoring 205 points. It was the Scarlet Knights' seventh consecutive championship and its 10th in the last 11 years.
Triton had the top finish among local schools — placing fifth with 113 points. Vikings senior Zach Welch captured an individual title at 160 pounds. Pentucket senior Brian Pigott claimed the title in the 171 pound weight class.
Masconomet Regional finished second with 170 points; third was North Reading/Lynnfield with 130; fourth, Hamilton-Wenham with 122; fifth was Triton, followed by Beverly (105), Pentucket Regional (103), Wilmington (98), Marblehead/Swampscott (53), Salem (39), Georgetown/Ipswich (37) and Winthrop (15).
The Vikings — only five years removed from capturing a dual-meet championship in 2003 — had an amalgam of inspired matches, according to coach Shawn McElligott.
"We're a young team, and inexperience and mistakes are one in the same," stated McElligott. "But freshman Cody Miller (130) finished in third, Danny Chandler (112, third place) who's still coming back from an ACL injury, and Timmy Hudon (152, third place) — those were some definite pluses."
Welch not only cruised through the quarterfinal and semifinal, but gave perhaps the most dominant finals performance of the night by pinning North Andover's Alex Smirnov.
"I always thought he was one of the best wrestlers in the league, and he proved that tonight," stated McElligott. "I'm so happy for Zach. He's such a team-player, and I think achieving this win for himself is just a great way to top off his CAL career."
Pentucket Regional coach Dennis Puleo was pleased with his wrestlers.
"The three kids in the finals did well," said Puleo. "As a whole we had a good day, a tough day. Ben Stasiuk (189, second place) wrestled really well, and senior Brian Pigott (champion at 171) is the most improved wrestler we have.
"We're young, and the program is promising," stated Puleo. "We as a coaching staff saw a vast improvement, and overall, though are expectations fell short, we were pleased with some of the outcomes."
Wilmington athletic director Ed Harrison, whose own Sons of Italy Wrestling Tourney runs annually, understands the upside of hosting the invitational reaches past school recognition.
"The meet really opens wrestling up to people who normally wouldn't watch it," explained Harrison. "It's a great program that still doesn't get the recognition it deserves, and with a tourney like this, one of your main goals is to make more fans of the sport."
One of the younger programs in the tourney, along with the Beverly Panthers, is the Georgetown/Ipswich squad whose fourth year on the mat has seen a significant rise in wrestlers as well as competition.
"This year we had nine wrestlers from Ipswich join the effort. Those guys dedicate blood, sweat and tears towards the program," explained coach Mike Murphy. "The balance between the communities has been great.
"Considering how many guys represented the team, we had nine guys in 14 weight classes. Out of those nine guys, five moved on, three were in the championship rounds, and two went onto the consolations," explained Murphy. "Our two captains, senior Jay Nemeroff (160) and sophomore Dean Nemeroff (135, fourth place), as results of their wins today have 20-win seasons.
"I liked the way we wrestled today. Overall, we lost some steam as the day progressed, but I'm proud of the guys," exclaimed Murphy. "We have to keep everything in perspective with our team. We need to continue doing the right things in order to establish ourselves. I'm happy with our guys, I'm happy with the steps we've taken, and I'm looking forward to the future."
Cape Ann League Invitational Champions
103 - Nate Hooper - Masconomet
112 - John DePaula - Beverly
119 - Alex Jones - Masconomet
125 - Jim Connolly - North Andover
130 - Jeff Goodrich - Hamilton- Wenham
135 - Mike Krull - Masconomet
140 - Kenneth Karas - Masconomet
145 - Ryan Hanna - Hamilton-Wenham
152 - Derek Timpe - North Andover
160 - Zach Welch - Triton
171 - Brian Pigott - Pentucket
189 - Kyle Dolan - North Andover
215 - Andrew Bogosian - North Andover
285 - Mike Nazzaro - Masconomet