First championship since 1980; clinched after victory over Wakefield
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — It was a week of historic firsts for the 2015 MHS wrestling team, who became league champs for the first time since 1980 after beating Wakefield, a team they hadn’t defeated in nearly a decade. The victory took place on Feb. 5 at the Charbonneau Field House in Wakefield when Melrose topped the Warriors 43-24.
Melrose secured a 3-1 league record after victories over Wakefield, Watertown and Wilmington and only falling to Burlington this season. They will share the title with Burlington and Wakefield who also finished 3-1.
Coach James Bleiler credited his team’s tough perseverance. “We had our hands full, we always do with Wakefield, they’re a tough team who always match up well. But everyone had a big day.”
Despite giving Wakefield 6 points in a forfeit in the 106 weight class Melrose bounced back after Mandip Singh pinned Shannon Drager coming back from a 4-2 deficit.
Ryan Stanton, current D3 State Champ, entered his first match since the start of the season in the 120 class. It took him only 30 seconds to pin Jake Allen of Wakefield, giving hints that Stanton will be in fighting form for post season. Melrose took a 15-6 advantage when Mike Calvert (126) pinned Connor Shine at 3:56. Red Raider Cam Rosie pulled off a major decision against Evan McGuire in the 132 class, keeping Melrose’s winning streak going. Melrose’s Chris Reale received a forfeit from Wakefield in the 138 class and Melrose led 25-6, and Jack Siebert earned a hard fought 10-6 decision over Ben Piercy. Perhaps the most interesting match was the 152 pitting Melrose’s Guiherme Bretas against Wakefield’s Dan Bertini. The two were deadlocked in points for two periods before Bertini gained the upper hand and earned a 7-4 decision. Melrose’s Patrick Whelan also fought tooth and nail against Warrior Evan Gourville. Whelan held a slim 2-1 lead in two periods before Gourville tied it up. Eventually Whelan earned two more points and earned a very hard fought 4-2 decision.
Melrose’s Antonio DiFronzo (170) pinned Wakefield’s Matt Murdocca at 2:37 and Mike Doucette (182) exacted revenge on league rival Matt Yirrell with a pin at 4:38 which helped extend their lead to 43-9. Melrose fell in their remaining matches in the 195, 200 and 285 weight classes.
“This was the first time we’ve beaten Wakefield since I’ve coached and even served as an assistant coach,” says Bleiler. “It was a big win for us, and earning the title is fantastic. Now we are on to sectionals.”
As for what the winning ingredient was this season? “I think our senior leadership has been a strength this year, as well as our younger athletes who are buying into the system and learning from our experienced wrestlers,” he says.
Melrose, coached by Bleiler and assisted by Tim Morris, will compete in the Div. 3 North Sectionals in North Reading on Saturday at 8 a.m. Don’t be shocked to see a Raider or two walk away with hardware.