Division 1 North Sectionals
Sunday, February, 10
By Hector Longo
The seeds had Andrik Cruz primed for a third straight sectional final disappointment.
Cruz would have none of that. The Methuen High senior, wrestling at 145 pounds, made his third North championship try a winning one, heading up an area contingent of two champs and 15 places moving on to the Division 1 North championships in Bridgewater next weekend.
Knocking off Chelmsford's Nick Kugler | a returning sectional champ | by a resounding 9-4 margin in the finals, Cruz avenged a regular-season 10-7 loss to the Lion.
A late first-period takedown | the only points scored in the opening two minutes | keyed the Cruz title win.
"My third time in the sectional finals, this one feels pretty good," said Cruz. "I don't think I wrestled my best against him the last time. I wrestled a lot better this time. I was more aggressive, stayed on my feet.
"Getting ahead was the key. The first takedown usually wins. I'm feeling pretty confident as we go on. I've wrestled and seen most of the kids out there. I think I have a chance."
Cruz's classmate John Sughrue earned the expected crown at 130 pounds, making it four sectional titles in four years and positioning the Ranger senior for a state title grand slam.
Sughrue had to work for career win 192 (only five losses) in the championship match, a 2-0 squeaker over Lowell's Victor DeJesus | a champion at the prestigious Holiday Tournament.
"It was a close match, but he's a pretty good wrestler," said Sughrue, who is taking extra precautions with his health these days after missing New Englands a year ago with an illness.
"I would have liked to score more points, but it's good to get the job done."
Sughrue was third at New Englands in his only appearance there, as a freshman.
Methuen, scoring 184 points on the day, took third overall to North champ Lowell at 274<1/2> and Chelmsford 202. St. John's Prep rounded out the top four squads, each of which will compete in the state dual-meet tournament.
Kevin Sughrue, at 140 pounds, took a runner-up ribbon, falling in the finals to New England placer Evan Connors of Lowell, 12-0.
Lawrence High, which took sixth overall, featured one finalist, Jose Varela at 189 pounds. He seemed to run out of gas in a tough, 11-3, decision.
Haverhill's Isaiah Williams, like Varela seeded first, ran into a title-match buzzsaw in Chelmsford 152-pounder Tim Sheehan and got pinned in 1:38 of the first.
St. John's Prep featured one champion, 103-pounder Ryan Morello, a junior in his second year of wrestling.
Morello pitched a pair of shutouts, 8-0 in the semis and 2-0 in the finals, avenging a pair of regular season losses to pull out the title.
"It's the best feeling ever, one of the best days of my life," said the third-seeded Morello. "I knew if I could score some points early, I could probably win the match."
Eagle 135-pounder Ryan Harding of North Andover fell to two-time defending state champ Tim Rich of Chelmsford, 17-5. Prep heavyweight Kevin Poplaski of North Reading was the top seed but fell in the finals to Kevin Griffin of St. John's-Shrewsbury.