It’s said that the only thing tougher than becoming a champion is remaining a champion. And following its historic 2014-15 season, the Londonderry High School wrestling team might just find out how true that old adage is this winter.
Led by first-year coach Jason Cucolo, the 2014-15 Lancer grapplers drove their way to the Division I championship, ending the historic 15-year reign of the Timberlane Regional Owls in the process and earning the praise and approval of fellow teams and wrestlers who weren’t quite positive that the Timberlane troop could be hauled down off of its thrown.
The Lancers – who went an exceptional 16-1 overall last winter – had three standouts collect individual titles at the D-I championships and a total of 12 athletes medal at that big event in late February. And now, as the reigning divisional champions get used to competing with a bulls-eye on their backs, the 2015-16 Lancers stride into their new campaign with one individual champion back and seven of those dozen medalists from the D-I championships returning to the fold as well.
Mahdi Achab is the reigning 170-pound champion in Division I, and now as a battle-tested star he will be looked at to help lead the 2015-16 Lancer contingent toward a repeat. But he certainly won’t be alone.
Fellow returnees Ryan Cabezas, Tyler Byrd, Kevin Robischeau, Craig Santos, Colin Reardon, and Drew Chase all strode away from the Division I meet in February with medallions around their necks. So like Achab, they’ll certainly have reasons to feel less anxious and more confident rolling into important matches right to the end of the current campaign.
Other returnees from the title-winning 2014-15 crew are Caleb Moscoso and Andrew Burns, and the champions’ newcomers include Sean Wilson, Matt Town, Ben Psaledas, and Sammy Achab.
When asked what the keys will be for his team this winter as it seeks to retain the D-I title, coach Cucolo held his thoughts close to the vest stating, “Working heard each day and continuing to get better each day.”
Cucolo listed the Concord High Crimson Tide, Timberlane, the arch-rival Pinkerton Astros, Nashua North, and the Bedford Bulldogs as top competitors to lift the crown off of the Lancers’ brow this winter. But Londonderry certainly won’t surrender the crown without a battle.