First-year coach Jason Cucolo’s Londonderry High wrestling squad put forth a strong showing at the annual George Bossi Lowell Holiday Wrestling Tournament at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Mass., last weekend.
The Lancers, who ended day one of competition Saturday, Dec. 27, ranked second among the more than 60 competing squads and spent some of the morning in first place, wound up finishing out of the top three contingents. But Cucolo’s crew had five wrestlers nab top-eight finishes, with senior star Jean-Luc Lemieux leading the way by winning his 138-pound weight class by going undefeated in five bouts.
Cucolo’s charges trailed only the three-time defending champion Mount Anthony squad from Vermont for the team title after one day of competition, and that Green Mountain crew wound up winning the tourney crown again, with a team total of of 256 points. Springfield Central (Mass.) was a distant second scoring 182 and Timberlane of Plaistow took third with a 166 total.
Lemieux tallied three, first-period pins and one second-period pin on the way to his weight class championship, taking the title over Garrett Ludwig of Winchester, Mass.
Kyle Byrd ended up with the next highest Londonderry finish by taking fourth in his 160-pound class. Byrd went 6-2 in eight total matches.
Fellow Lancer Richard Bilodeau made it all the way to the championship semi-finals, where he lost to Dylan Barreiro of Pinkerton Academy, 7-3. He tallied three pins and a major decision to claim fifth place – posting a 5-2 overall record – in his 195-pound class, Ryan Cabezas made it to the Championship Quarter finals but wound up finishing seventh overall in his 126-pound class with a 5-1 record, and Andrew Chase, who had the most matches for the team, took eighth in his 132-pound division with a 6-3 record.
Other Londonderry competitors in the high-profile tourney were Mahdi Achab, 170-pound, (3-2 record), Jake Barr, 152-pound, (2-2), Colin Reardon, 145-pound, (1-2), Kevin Robischeau, 106-pound, (4-2), Sebastian Rozczenko, 182-pound, (2-2), and Craig Santos, 113-pound, (3-2).
“Overall, I was pleased with a fourth-place finish, although there is still room for improvement,” said Cucolo. “A fourth-place finish at this type of tournament early in the year is a good start; however, the wrestlers and I aren’t content with this finish. We will continue to improve and grow each day with the end goal of winning a New England championship.”
Regarding the individual efforts of his charges, Cucolo said, “I was pleased with the individual placers in the tournament as well. All guys that had to wrestle back after tough losses showed heart and determination and did not give up after not reaching their goals (earlier) in the tournament.”