By Chris Paul
The Londonderry High School Wrestling team hosted the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Division I Championship on Saturday, Feb. 18, and had some exceptional finishes in a number of weight classes.
Lancer sophomore David Pento Jr. remained undefeated in the state of NH in the 152-pound division this year after collecting three wins and the Division I title.
Londonderry junior Patrick O’Connor also took home a DI title with four match victories, including a very nice win in the championship round over David Jacques of Salem High School.
As a team, Londonderry scored 161.5 points for a third-place in the Championship. The Blue Devils bested the Timberlane Owls with 256-points over 173-points for the top spot, a feat that hasn’t been achieved since Londonderry did it back in 2015. The Plaistow powerhouse has achieved 23 State Titles since 2000.
Pento began his day in the quarterfinal round, after receiving a bye as the top-seeded wrestler. In his first match, Pento pinned Pinkerton Academy’s Cameran Morrow in 1:28 of the match. Moving onto the Semifinals, Pento had another fall win, this time against William Hartford of Exeter at 4:26 in the match.
Pento’s title-winning victory came at the expense of Timberlane’s Ben Little, who put up an excellent effort in the championship round, but was outscored 9-5.
In the 170-pound division, O’Connor had wins in four matches as the second seed, and beat the top-seed in the championship match.
O’Connor’s day started with a first-round, 9-0 win over Owen Hope of Keene. From there, he pinned Robert Craig of Bedford in the Quarters, then got a 5-3 win over Constantine Isaac of Windham in the Semifinals. In the finals, O’Connor shocked the number-one seed at 5:06 in the match with a reversal that evolved into a pin for the title.
Londonderry’s 132-lbs. senior, Nicolas D’Alessandro, also made it to the championship round. D’Alessandro fell in a very close match against Caleb O’Rourke of Salem. During the match the LHS senior seemed to stop wrestling after hearing a whistle blown from another match and was then pinned.
D’Alessandro had three strong wins against Keene, Exeter, and Timberlane opponents leading up to the finals.
Senior Chris Gear finished in third place with four victories and a loss in the Semifinals.
D’Alessandro, Perez, Palma, Pento, O’Conner, Owen Rondeau, Andreas Taliodourus, and Chris Gear will all advance to the Meet of Champions at Bedford High School on Saturday, Feb. 25. Nikki Stylianos will be wrestling in girls’ states at 106-lbs.
Head coach, Jason Cuculo, was happy with how his team finished. He said,”We did a great job all around. The kids wrestled hard and didn’t give up. It shows how hard they worked this entire season with being able to wrestle back and finish in third place as a team. We finished ahead of many teams that beat us in dual meets this year. We also only entered 12 wrestlers and to have nine qualify for next week, truly shows how hard these wrestlers have worked all year. We are also so fortunate to have such dedicated booster club and school community that really help support these kids all year long. Also not to mention the parents and their unwavering commitment to this team has been great over the years.”
He said the team plan is to refocus and remember that the MOCs is like starting fresh. What happened at the DIs is in the past, anything can happen this weekend.