It has been a long time since anybody bothered to speak in hushed tones when asking the question, “When will some New Hampshire team surpass Timberlane Regional as the Granite State wrestling powerhouse?”
Well, the Londonderry High Lancers might not be there yet, but first-year coach Jason Cucolo has his LHS grappling crew working hard in that direction. And the Lancers may just have made a significant stride forward in that effort last Saturday, Jan. 24, when they gave the host Owls a run for their home title at the 27th annual Timberlane Invitational in Plaistow.
The host team won its own tournament’s title for the 24th time in the last 25 years all right, tallying 191.5 points to best the other 13 competing teams. But Londonderry finished a strong second with a score of 179, with the third-place Bedford High Bulldogs with a tally of 116.
The Lancers had four grapplers win their respective weight class crowns – including 138-pounder Jean-Luc Lemieux, who was named the event’s outstanding wrestler – and eight Londonderry wrestlers wound up finishing among the top four competitors in their divisions.
“We had a great showing, especially since we had three weight classes where we didn’t have anyone,” said Cucolo. “(The) 220 (class) has been a forfeit all year, and 285 is still injured, and 182 Sebastian (Rozczenko) had the SAT’s. To finish 12.5 behind Timberlane with three less guys is a great showing.”
All four of the Lancers’ weight class champions posted perfect 3-0 records on the day, with Ryan Cabezas rising above the rest of the crowd in the 126-pound class, Lemieux racing to the top of the heap in his 138-pound division, Kyle Byrd winding up first in his 160-pound class, and Richard Bilodeau proving to be top dog in the 195-pound division.
Cabezas vanquished Manchester Memorial’s Devin Johnson in the title match in his division; Lemieux – who has now been named outstanding wrestler in two tournaments this winter – iced Chris Behn of Danvers, Mass. in the championship round in his class; Byrd bested Ian Routhier of Goffstown for the 160-pound crown; and Bilodeau took care of business in a title bout with Ryan Belz of Bedford to win his class crown.
Additionally, Londonderry had Colin Reardon place second at 145 pounds, freshmen Kevin Robischeau finish third at 106 pounds and Craig Santos snag third at 113, and Tyler Byrd wind up fourth at 120 pounds.
“I was very impressed with our guys’ ability to wrestle back and finish strong,” said Cucolo. “The guys showed a lot of heart and wrestled every match. An overall great day, but at the same time we are not satisfied and will continue to improve and get better each day.”