Melrose league champs over Wakefield at Memorial Hall
Published February 8, 2019
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—The stakes couldn’t have been higher for the Melrose Red Raider wrestling team, who hosted the second annual “Brawl in the Hall 2” at Memorial Hall on Jan. 30 in a winner-takes-all-bout against Wakefield, last year’s Middlesex Freedom League champ. On the line was this year’s 2019 Middlesex Freedom League title.
And the stakes couldn’t be higher when both teams entered the final match of the night in heavyweight to decide the meet. Melrose senior Jackson Curran and Wakefield’s Nate Ickles battled for the league title with a 34-33 Wakefield lead. Melrose’s Curran prevailed in a gripping 3-0 Melrose late decision in the third that sealed a 36-33 Melrose victory that earned the Red Raiders the 2019 Freedom League title.
This is coach Larry Tremblay’s first Middlesex Freedom title during his first year as Melrose head coach. Melrose has won the Freedom title two of the last three season. “It was a great night and we are happy to win a league title, especially in such a fantastic venue as Memorial Hall,” said the coach, who credited the Warriors. “Wakefield’s program is always competitive, so it was a good victory for us.”
While Curran’s bout was an electric finale, arguably the match of the night belonged to freshmen Shea Fogarrty who flipped Wakefield’s Matt Cunningham with a late pin in the third to keep Melrose in the contest, 19-18. Sophomore Jacob Swan was also instrumental with a must win 3-0 decision over Ken Tran, that gave Melrose a 33-28 lead going into the last two events of the night. And a fantastic start by Mike Thomas in the 106 gave Melrose a critical 7-0 start. Underclassmen Bobby Morrison and Dan Freed also fought tough opponents and limited them to a decision that saved Melrose points over the evening.
Meanwhile, master class wrestling lessons were offered by Melrose’s Hunter Adrian, Sean Herbert and Steven MacIntosh, who all prevailed over their Wakefield opponents in a combined 35 seconds.
The evening started with a dominant performance by Mike Thomas in the 106. He prevailed over Ana Valdevino with leads of 2-0, 5-0, 7-0, 10-0 and 12-0 before finishing the job with a pin in the third to give Melrose a 6-0 start. In the 113 Jake Petitpas showed grit coming out fast and strong with a takedown over Luke Fitzgerald for a 2-0 lead. The two battled into the second before Fitzgerald took a 6-4 lead and a pin.
All New England Champion Hunter Adrian entered the mat and took a quick 2-0 lead before pinning Anselm Schools, which keeps his season undefeated. In the 126, freshman Bobby Morrison showed true grit against Wakefield’s Jameson O’Callahan, forcing him to a third period and earning a series of neutral points while avoiding pins that kept it a decision and kept a 12-10 Melrose lead. Sophomore Dan Freed also fought a tough battle when he faced Wakefield’s Aiden Armstrong and battled to scores of 2-1, 4-2 and 6-2 in the first. In the second, Freed was down 8-2 but in the third, fought back hard with a takedown that reduced the deficit to 8-5, but ultimately time ran out and Wakefield’s Armstrong could only walk away with three decision points.
“That was big for us,” said Tremblay. “Just to keep those points down by decision.”
Wakefield took a 19-12 lead after a win in the 138 before Fogarty’s 145 bout, where he used cradles, takedowns and a headlock before flipping Wakefield’s Cunningham for a pin late in the third. Melrose was still in the game, 19-18.
Melrose took a deeper lead thanks to two quick pines by Steve MacIntosh (in five seconds) over Jim Brodeur in the 152, and Herbert – undefeated this season – who pinned his opponent in the 160. Melrose held a 30-19 lead going into the 170 but lost two more matches, making the 195 Jacob Swan bout a big one. Swan and Ken Tran battled to a draw in the first, before Wakefield took a 2-0 lead, then a 3-0 lead. But in the second, Swan had a huge takedown that made it 3-3 going into the third. After being forced to the ground and held there for several seconds, Swan got to his feet, earning a critical neutral point that gave Melrose a 4-3 edge and win.
Melrose forfeited the 220 class to Derek DiMasco and Melrose was down 34-33 going into the final.
Curran and Wakefield’s Nate Ickes battled 0-0 for the first two periods. Melrose’s Curran elected the bottom at the start of the third, and the crowd went wild when he was awarded an escape and then with 54 seconds left in the match, took down Ickes for a victory-clinching 3-0 win that awarded Melrose the coveted league title.
This Saturday, Feb. 9 Melrose hosts the Div. 3 North Finals, where Melrose is expected to crown several sectional champs. As a team, they will need every man to wrestle at the top of their form. Says Tremblay, “There could be some weight classes that come easier for us. I think a lot of how we do as a team depends on wrestlers like Sean Thomas and Shea Fogarty, who can claw out wins that help us keep points on the board.” The all-day action takes place at Melrose Middle School gym.
The fine people at Melrose High School Television broadcast the entire Brawl in the Hall 2 event on YouTube with excellent commentary. Check out the action at https://www.youtube.com/user/melrosehightv