Time to grapple with some high school wrestling thoughts

Alvirne's Kyle Gora

It is time to wrestle with some post-holiday mat thoughts as the high school grappling season turns the corner toward the heart of the campaign, states and ultimately New England’s.

First and foremost, the title by Alvirne’s Kyle Gora at the prestigious George Bossi Lowell (Mass.) Holiday Tournament can not be

underplayed.

Gora owned the 170-pound class in a tournament featuring upwards of 80 schools from all over New England.

“It’s a great tournament, two tough days, two long days, five matches,” said Gora, who took third at Lowell as a freshman and has now moved to 12-0 on the year.

The question is, where does this leave the uber-talented super sophomore? The answer? As a wanted man, with a target on his back every time he steps on the mat from now to late February.

“Definitely, and that’s a good thing,” said Gora. “Everybody is going to want to beat me. I’m going to get their best matches every time, and that is only going to help make me better.

“I will deal with the pressure of that like every other match. Just go out and wrestle.”

The Lowell title takes on greater significance because Gora played such a major role in the Broncos’ run to the Division II state football championship game. That wild ride shaved nearly three full weeks of practice time off his preparation for the winter season.

“It definitely slowed me down in the beginning,” he said. “It just took a lot of hard work to get where I am now.”

In other mat chatter emanating from Lowell — an absolute must-take by the way for any high school wrestling fan — it wasn’t such a good experience for Hollis Brookline’s Zack Brickner. The Cavs’ 182-pounder would have been an absolute threat to do some damage but ran into a vicious stomach bug.

The senior gritted his way through four matches, going 3-1, before being forced to withdraw.

When healthy, he’ll be very dangerous the rest of the way.

Elsewhere on the mat, it was interesting to see that one of Gora’s training partners from Plaistow’s Smitty’s Barn, Salem’s Tristen Cabinta, was beaten in the 160-pound final. Cabinta, a defending state champ in New England placer, will circle that final meet for certain where he’ll most likely get a second chance against his Springfield, Mass., opposition.

Talk about talent, by the way, in Lowell. The 132-pound final featured a pair of Division I scholarship guys in Lehigh commit Connor McGonagle of Timberlane Regional vs. Virginia Tech signee Jack Darling of Masconomet Regional in Boxford, Mass.

McGonagle took that one, 3-0, but the potential rematch at New Englands could be amazing.

“Both guys are such good wrestlers, that neither could do that much,” laughed Gora, who watched that title match closely.