It’s fast becoming a season for the ages, and it’s not even close to being over.
The Swampscott-Marblehead cooperative wrestling team on Saturday won two dual meets, defeating Acton-Boxboro 43 to 36 and Saugus, 48-24.
The Black & Blue wrestling team has now won three dual meets in a row. Plus, the team now has five dual meet wins for the season, which is the most in a single season for Mike Stamison, who is now in his fourth year as head coach of the program.
In its meet against Acton-Boxboro, there was plenty of excitement for the fans in attendance. Joe Mitlin, wrestling at 160 pounds, earned four points for the team with a 12-4 victory and Maleek Newsome (170) also earned three points in his scramble-filled 6-4 win.
Co-captains Jake Powell (126) and Sean Taylor (285) each earned six points for the team with pins. And Eugene Bromberg (220), Marblehead senior in his first year of wrestling, also captured six points for the team by pinning his opponent.
"I'm very impressed by Joe's performance, as he was out over the winter break with a shoulder injury," said Stamison. "Both Joe and Eugene wrestled with a lot of heart, and Joe, by turning his opponent from Acton-Boxboro as time expired, picked up a major decision which is worth four team points rather than three, which could've been a difference maker. Good tenacity by him to keep working for a fall, despite the match waning down."
Stamison also had high praise for his heavyweight, Taylor. "Sean was outstanding, beating the Acton-Boxboro heavyweight who pinned him at the Pentucket Holiday Tournament," Stamison said. "We changed up our game plan, and Sean has done some of the best wrestling of his career over the last week."
Stamison described Powell's match against Austin Shaughnessy of Acton-Boxboro, who placed fourth at the Pentucket Holiday Tournament, as scary. "Powell got caught in a head and arm and nearly got pinned by Shaugnessy, who is a pretty good wrestler in his own right. Jake scrambled and managed to not get pinned, and then stuck him quickly in the second period. I think it was a good test for him, as he's only lost one match all year."
Powell is closing in on big milestone for high school varsity wrestlers; he now has 98 wins, just two shy of 100. He's projected to earn his 100th varsity win during a tournament at Pelham High School on Saturday, Jan. 12.
In its meet against Saugus, a Northeastern Conference rival, seven Black & Bluers -- Ali Atallah (182), Ben Grant (152), Cam Budrow (132), Mitlin, Newsome, Powell, and Taylor – pinned their respective opponents, for a total of 42 team points. Mark Rittiboon (195) earned six points because of a forfeit.
"Ben Grant has had a tough year thus far, as a first-year wrestler wrestling in an upper weight," said Stamison. "We went over a good move for him, the head and arm, on Friday night's practice, and he utilized it in order to pin his opponent from Saugus in 16 seconds. That got me, and his parents who were watching in the stands, very excited."
Stamison also noted the performance of Cam Budrow. "He wrestled well, pulling off a nice head chauncery," said Stamison. "He is coming into his own, and is improving every week. Ali is also wrestling great right now."
Wrestlers Brett Resnick (113) Steven Hopkins (106), and Max Bazarov (138) all continued to show resilience and promise in the dual meets on Saturday, Stamison said.
The team, meanwhile, is enjoying a season unlike any other in Coach Stamison's tenure. "To win two dual meets, even while giving up two weight classes, is huge for us," said Stamison. "Hopefully we build on this momentum, and people around town take notice."
The team wrestles next on Thursday, Jan. 10 against Danvers/Hamilton-Wenham at 7 pm at Swampscott High School. Said Stamison: "We hope for another great turnout on Thursday."