GEORGETOWN — They're the little guys of area wrestling, but you have got to hand it to the Georgetown/Ipswich and Pentucket wrestling teams. With high user fees and low numbers, they're remaining as competitive as possible.
Pentucket is coming off an 11-9 season and, at 5-6, Georgetown, led by senior 160-pounder Shawn Kavanagh, may be headed for its first winning season of the 21st century. Both deserve to be commended, with the Royals in particular.
With a small enrollment, and a user fee of $400, it's not easy forming a competitive wrestling team but, led by coach Mike Curley and the much-improved Kavanagh, Georgetown is doing an admirable job.
In fact, if both the Royals and Sachems could find more like Kavanagh — and undefeated Pentucket 189-pounder Andy Stasiuk — they would be in a more favorable position.
Kavanagh had a modest 14-11 record last year, but he took it upon himself to make a significant upgrade for his senior season on the mat. He worked out religiously with the Mercury Wrestling Club in Danvers and decided to pass up his final year of high school football.
"It wasn't a tough decision," said Kavanagh after the Royals won one of three meets at yesterday's quad-meet at Pentucket. "Wrestling is my main passion and I wanted to get a lot better."
Kavanagh showed his passion by clipping off 30 pounds from the 190 he weighed in at during the summer. Aggressive, with more command of his moves, he looked impressive yesterday in a 10-2 major decision over Methuen's Jack Khoury,
That lifted Kavanagh to 18-0 on the year, with his season goals well within reach. "I'm aiming to be first in the Division 3 sectional and in the top four at state," he said.
But Kavanagh's worth goes beyond his record. He, along with Curley, helped recruit some members to the team, swelling the roster to a respectable total of 21.
"I tried to get kids (at Georgetown), and coach worked on Ipswich," said Kavanagh, who hopes to wrestle Division 3 in college next year. "It's not easy, but I think there will always be guys who like wrestling."
The result, along with more coaches helping out in the wrestling room, is a more competitive team, making the season much more enjoyable. "Winning more meets is a lot better and boosts up the morale," Kavanagh said. "It gives you something to fight for."
The situation is somewhat similar at Pentucket, which has a user fee of $350, but no other school to co-op with. Securing 16 wrestlers was probably about as minimum as you'd want, but it seems worse now because five are injured, including three of the more talented ones.
With that in mind, shuffling the lineup while beating Georgetown 39-33 yesterday was huge for the Sachems, who stand at 3-5 and are led by Stasiuk.
A sectional champion last year, Stasiuk is 15-0 on the year and has won two tournament titles. Like Kavanagh, he doesn't play football and is passionate about the sport.
"He's looking good and is a lot like his older brother (Ben)," Pentucket coach Dennis Puleo said.
Predictably, both Georgetown and Pentucket got whipped by unbeaten Methuen yesterday, but the Rangers (6-0) were coming off a tournament crown at Framingham and look to be one of the top Division 1 teams in the state.
For the obstacles they're facing, both Georgetown and Pentucket, with standouts like Kavanagh and Stasiuk, are doing quite well for themselves.