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Raider seniors depart on winning note

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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

The Needham wrestling team beat Wellesley, 54-21, on Wednesday night, capping off a season that saw the Monks win only two dual meets on the season. But while Wellesley would obviously have liked a team victory, they were happy to see that, on senior night, both of their senior wrestlers were able to leave the Wellesley gymnasium for the final time with wins.

For the Rockets, there were plenty of matches that stood out. Will Haney beat Kevin Frost in a grueling, long match that was as close as 10-9 late, with Haney finding himself unable to secure a pin in the closing seconds of the match and having to settle for a 13-9 tech fall. Harvard Wang pinned Hayden Blakely, after getting his fingernails checked when Hayden found himself bleeding from the neck. Graham Pinti also added a first period pin, although the team took a few forfeits later, including one for having nobody to wrestle Wellesley heavyweight Anthony Messore.

A Wellesley wrestler does his best to fight off the pin.  Photos by James Kinneen

A Wellesley wrestler does his best to fight off the pin. Photos by James Kinneen

As for the Monks, Chase Stempel had a really nice come-from-behind pin victory after being tossed a couple of times early in the match. But the night belonged to Wellesley’s two seniors. Masked captain Tony Rendell had a very quick pin victory, while Mike Ferzoco won, as well. So, while a team win would have been nice, coach Mike Langan was happy to see his seniors exit the varsity stage victoriously.

“We had two seniors wrestle tonight and they both won their matches. It was great to see them end on a high note. Tony and Mike have both been working very hard. Tony’s been wrestling for a little while, so it was nice to see him end on a win. This is Mike’s second year, and just to see him learn so much in his two years and to come out with a win tonight, was huge.”

While there is still a postseason to compete in, and Coach Langan thinks everybody has a good shot at placing as long as they wrestle smartly, he wanted to point out how proud he was of his young team for how they conducted themselves.

“The kids went out there and fought really hard today,” said the coach. “Like I keep saying, we’re a young, young team, so just to have the heart and to hear the team cheering everybody on - everybody was into the matches, everybody was very respectful - and at the end of the day, that’s what you want to teach and instill in these kids.”

As for Needham, the Rockets are a young team, as well. And with that youth, Coach Robert Pritchett noted the team has gotten much better over the course of the year, really finding their groove over the second half of the season.

“We’re young, but we’re on the move,” said Coach Pritchett. “We’re coming up. We beat Newton North for the first time in, like, four or five years; we beat Weymouth and Wellesley, who are in our division; we’re five or six and three over the last part of the season, so we ended the season on a really good note. We’ve had a good run like this last six matches.”

But Coach Pritchett isn’t looking to next year just yet. While a young team, he knows he has some guys that can make a splash in the postseason, and that his team has momentum on their side.

“We’re definitely looking at Graham [Pinti] and Will [Haney]. We had a good showing at Belmont. The guys did well, and I think we’re going to carry some of that same tournament experience into the sectionals. So, I’m looking forward to it.”

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