Lancer Wrestlers Keep Major Successes Rolling In

It appears as though the 2014-15 Londonderry High wrestling team is catapulting itself into the upper echelon of New Hampshire wrestling contingents this winter.

Coach Jason Cucolo’s Lancer crew continued to tally up impressive performances last week by edging out the always-tough Concord High Crimson Tide by a slim margin in a head to head match-up in that opponent’s home gym on Wednesday, Jan. 14, and then by besting Concord again along with two other opposing squads in winning the first Pinkerton Academy Border Wars Duals Tournament in Derry Saturday, Jan. 17.

The LHS grapplers just got past Concord’s Crimson Tide by a 33-32 tally in the state capital, thanks to bout victories from senior standout Jean-Luc Lemieux at 138 pounds (pin at 1:25), Jake Barr in the 152-pound bout (9-7 decision), Kyle Byrd at 160 pounds (7-2 decision), Mahdi Achab with a vital 7-2 decision at the 170-pound level, Richard Bilodeau at 195 pounds (17-3 major decision), youngster Craig Santos at 113 pounds (pin, 5:06), Tyler Byrd in the 120-pound battle (fall just 39 seconds in), and Ryan Cabezas at 126 pounds (9-4 decision).

Cucolo wound up being penalized a point for misconduct late in the match, but that one-point subtraction didn’t end up making a vital difference in the tight outcome.

“I was very pleased with the fight from my guys,” said the head coach. “Whether they won the match or lost, they fought the entire time. The guys worked hard each match and I was very proud of the way they kept themselves composed.”

After having been around New Hampshire wrestling as an assistant coach at Salem High over the past several years, the new LHS mentor knew of Concord’s reputation and skill. So he was aware that nothing would be easy about trying to best that opponent in the dual meet.

“We knew they were going to be tough to beat, especially since we have to forfeit 220 and 285. So every match we wrestle we are behind 12 points. I felt that the turning point was when Mahdi Achab, the clear underdog, wrestled a perfect match and beat (Ian) Wagner, 7-2. I felt that it was at that point we didn’t worry so much about the 12 points we were giving up.”

And Cucolo then watched his final three grapplers follow Achab’s impressive lead and get Londonderry the match win.

“The last three matches that we needed to win all fell on freshman Craig Santos, who pinned his opponent; Tyler Byrd, who also pinned; and then a dominant performance from Ryan Cabezas to seal the match. These guys showed so much heart and composure, knowing that the match fell on their shoulders and that the only way for us as a team to win was for them to win all three matches,” said the coach.

Cucolo was left surprised by the point he lost through an evidently inadvertent case of misconduct.

“I still was never given complete clarification, even after the match,” he said. “I was told that when things got heated between Cabezas and the Concord opponent that I stepped on the mat, and that is an automatic team point. I was unaware that I did this and I apologized to the ref and left it at that.”

The Crimson Tide would be eclipsed by Londonderry one more time before the week was out, this time at the new Pinkerton tourney, which brought those two talented teams as well as the host Pinkerton Astros, Windham, Nashua North, and Bay State grapplers from Winchester, Mass., together in one gym.

The Lancers disposed of Nashua North handily in round one (51-24), then Windham in round two (47-27), and finally Concord by a considerably larger margin than a few days earlier (35-26) in the title-round of the tourney.

In the upending of North, Londonderry wins were delivered by both Byrd boys, Cabezas, Lemieux, Achab, Bilodeau, Santos, Sebastian Rozczensko at 182 pounds, and Kevin Robischeau in 106-pound competition.

Besting Windham was achieved with wins from Cabezas, 132-pound grappler Drew Chase, Lemieux, Colin Reardon at 145, Barr, both Byrds, Achab, and Bilodeau.

The Lancers snared their second defeat of Concord in a matter of days, thanks to individual successes from Lemieux, Barr, the Byrd brothers, Achab, Bilodeau, Santos, and Cabezas.

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