As senior nights go, it was a memorable one for the Swampscott-Marblehead wrestling team. The team defeated Peabody 44-18 in its final dual meet of the season, ending the year with its best record in years.
What’s more, four of five Black & Blue seniors won their final home matches.
The team, which didn’t win a single dual meet last year, finished the 2012-3 season with a 6-14 record.
"I couldn't be happier by our boys' performances last night, it was such a great way to end the dual-meet season," said Michael Stamison, the team’s head coach. "All congratulations should go to the seniors who have done an amazing job of recruiting and retaining the boys on the team, and to my assistants Chris Jacobs, Rich Maestranzi and Igor Babushkin. Total team effort last night, and our first night all year we had no holes in the lineup, all weight classes were filled."
Jonah Weinstein, a Marblehead senior who returned to the team late in the season, earned five points for the team with a 17-2 technical fall. "That was a dominant match, the best of his career hands down,” said Stamison. “It's sad to think, had we had him all last year (he was injured for 90% of the season) and this year, what might have been, but I will certainly take that from him, great way to finish a career."
Seniors Sean Taylor (285), Joe Mitlin (160), and Jake Powell (126) also won their respective matches, all by pins.
Taylor, Mitlin, and Powell were also named to the Northeastern Conference All-Star team.
In other matches, Max Bazarov, a Swampscott freshman, bumped up from 132 to wrestle at 145 and had a nice pin with a cradle; Swampscott sophomore Mark Rittiboon earned six points for the team with a pin and Marblehead junior Ali Atallah (182) earned three points by wrestling a gritty match.
"Ali has been hurt all year, we are shutting him down for a week to let him recover, he has been grinding all year and I really appreciate the toughness he's exhibited," said Stamison.
Ben Grant at 152 and Maleek Newsome at 170 both had tough losses, with Newsome losing to CAL/NEC Champion Sal Sherzi. "Maleek was able to hang with him, and has improved by leaps and bounds this year," said Stamison.
Eugene Bromberg, a Marblehead senior, also wrestled well against Brandon Rapoza, Peabody’s captain. "We turned Eugene, a first year senior, into a wrestler,” said Stamison. “I wish we had him his freshman year, he just started getting it."
As part of the senior night festivities, Stamison presented the captains of the team, Taylor and Powell, polo shirts typically reserved for coaches. "My thought is that as captains, you are extensions of the coaching staff,” he said. “What better way to commemorate that than by giving them what I wear in their corner on Saturdays all winter. They can wear them when they (hopefully) return home next year while on break from college."
Taylor and Powell also presented Stamison a plaque in recognition of his being the head coach for all four years of their high school wrestling career. "It's beautiful, but coaching them for four years and watching them grow into good, decent, young men has been more than enough. I will certainly miss them a great deal."
Tournament season now begins for the wrestling team. The team will wrestle in the Division 3 North Sectional tournament on Feb. 9 at Melrose high school. The top four place winners in their respective weigh classes there will wrestle in the Division 3 State tournament on Feb. 15 and 16 at Wakefield high school, and the top six place winners in their respective weight classes there will wrestle in the All-State tournament on Feb. 22 and 23 at Salem high school.
"We have 10 days of solid preparation,” said Stamison. “Now is not the time to rest on our laurels, we need to kick it into overdrive and get ready for the post season. I'm most likely taking 10-11 wrestlers to Melrose for sectionals. Two years ago we had five kids place in the top six, four of whom went on to wrestle at states. Our goal is to do better than that."