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Merrimack solid second; local champs in Division II wrestling

By Andrew Sylvia - For The Telegraph | Feb 17, 2018

Photo by ANDREW SYLVIA Eric Griffin of Merrimack (black and blue) defeated Kevin Johnson of Manchester West (white and blue) in the 285 lb. division final.

PETERBOROUGH – The Windham Jaguars headed for home as the 2017-18 Division II wrestling team champions, an honor earned by the narrowest of margins.

Windham ended the day with 198 team points, just six points ahead of second place Merrimack.

Every Jaguar wrestler finished within the top six in their weight class, with individual state titles for Conner Sills (106 pounds), Riley Millette (120 pounds) and Vincent Marino (132 pounds).

After seven hours of wrestling, that team title ultimately came down to just one match, as Merrimack would have earned the title with just one more finish at or above fourth place.

Merrimack ended the day with 10 wrestlers getting into the top six of their respective weight classes, with Julien Hovan (145 pounds), Dominic Damata (220 pounds) and Eric Griffin (285 pounds) winning their respective individual state titles.

Saturday’s tournament marked the first time Merrimack has ever gotten multiple individual state champions according to Merrimack head coach Tim McMahon

“We really wanted to win it, but we’re excited we got second place,” said McMahon, who was named coach of the year by his peers at the end of the tournament. “I’m excited for the guys, but we were so close.”

For Windham, the repeat championship came as something of a pleasant surprise following the graduation of several key team members such all-New England runner up Mike Tanguay as well as a lack of depth at the heavier weight classes.

“We lost pretty much everyone over 160 pounds and we had people come in who had never wrestled before who were juniors and seniors,” said Windham assistant coach Russ Perkins. “Everybody just did an amazing job. I was just blown away by the kids.”

Bishop Guertin finished the day third, just 12 points behind Windham, or the equivalent of one third place finish or better. They were also honored for the best record during dual meet competitions over the year.

The Cardinals’ individual state champions included Jesse Brochu (113 pounds), Dan Franco (152 pounds), and Hunter McLaughlin (182 pounds)

Bishop Guertin head coach Paul Rousseau echoed McMahon’s thoughts: an overall appreciation for the efforts of his squad despite the final team result.

“I thought it was a great day, you have to give Windham credit, they wrestled really, really well, and Merrimack was tough,” said Rousseau. “As a team, I’m very proud of them. I’m disappointed in the result, but I’m not disappointed in their effort.”

Other individual state champions included Jac St. Jean of Goffstown (126 pounds), Brian Lindsay of Kingswood (138 pounds), Rick DeBernardo of Milford (160 pounds), Dan Curran of Conval (170 pounds), and Clement Sherwood of Hollis-Brookline (195 pounds).

The NHIAA Meet of Champions will take place next Saturday at Nashua South High School, starting at 9:30 a.m.

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