UPDATED, March 13: After completing its most successful dual meet season in the team’s history, it was only fitting that eight Arlington High wrestlers should be named as 2019-20 Middlesex League All-Stars.
All four senior captains were honored: Noe Romero (113 pounds), Yanni Kechriotis (152 pounds), David Lopes (182 pounds) and Charles Gillis (220 pounds).
Joining them on the all-star squad were sophomores Glenn Doyle (120 pounds) and Denis Cha (170 pounds) along with junior Conor McGahan (138 pounds) and senior Henry Raughley (195 pounds). McGahan and Cha will serve as cocaptains for the 2020-21 team along with teammates Louis Shriber and Mike Pesiridis.
The wrestling team completed its season with a dual-meet record of 25-2, that included a 23-match win streak. Along the way they won the Middlesex League Liberty Division title, the Division Two Metro Sectional Title and the Belmont Tournament.
Four AHS wrestlers place at states
Four Arlington High wrestlers placed among the top eight in their respective weight classes at the Division Two State Tournament this past weekend at Milton High School.
Leading the charge was senior captain Yanni Kechriotis, who won four matches before losing to Canton’s Eddie Marinelli by a fall in the 152-pound final. For Kechriotis, the loss was only his second of the season.
Wrestling at 220-pounds senior captain Charles Gillis ended up in fifth place. After easily winning his first two bouts, Gillis lost a close match to top-seeded Anthony Mears of Central Catholic in the semifinals. He then dropped another close decision before winding up in fifth. Both losses were the only ones Gillis suffered this year.
A third senior captain, Noe Romero, came in sixth in the 113-pound weight class. Romero won three matches including a revenge match against Catholic Memorial’s Luke Orup, whose one-point decision over Romero prevented him from advancing to the finals in last week’s D2 Metro sectionals. Unfortunately, Romero had to bow out of his final match for fifth place at the states because of an injury default.
Sophomore Denis Cha won a 6-5 decision to take seventh place at 170-pounds.
Other Ponder wrestlers who competed at the states were senior captain David Lopes, who won one match, and sophomore Glenn Doyle who was eliminated on the first day of the two-day tourney. Junior Conor McGahan and senior Henry Raughley qualified for the state tourney but were unable to participate because of injuries.
The tournament was a bit of a come-down for the Ponder boys, who had performed so well as a team all season and at the Division Two Metro Sectionals the week before. But as is often the case, the states tend to be more of a meat grinder, as the top performers from all four division sectionals are brought together in one competition.
This coming weekend Kechriotis, Gillis and Romero will be competing at the All-State Tournament at Methuen High. Boys from all three divisions in Massachusetts will compete.
It took 24 years and a journey through three different conferences before the Arlington High wrestling team finally won its first sectional title, on Saturday, Feb. 15, at Burlington High.
Led by senior captains Yanni Kechriotis and Charles Gillis and sophomore Denis Cha, all of whom took home first-place medals, the Ponders outdistanced 12 other teams, including two Middlesex League rivals, Winchester and Burlington, who finished in second and third place. The team’s victory total was 206 points to 179 for Winchester and 168 for Burlington.
In helping to secure the Division Two Metro trophy, Kechriotis and Gillis each captured his third tournament titles for the season. The biggest surprise of the day was the performance turned in by Cha, who won his first sectional medal as a varsity athlete by pinning his way to the 170-pound title.
A third team captain, David Lopes, took a silver medal as did junior Conor McGahan. Adding to the day’s medal haul were senior captain Noe Romero, sophomore Glenn Doyle, and senior Henry Raughley who placed third in their weight classes. Juniors Henri Schuette and Mike Pesiridis took home fifth place honors while junior Louis Shriber and freshman Sean McCaffrey came in sixth. In all the Ponders placed twelve wrestlers among the top six in fourteen weight classes.
According to Coach Kevin Cummings, the key to team’s victory wasn’t just “the five guys who made it into the finals, but the performance of the kids in the consolation bracket who came back after their first loss to rack up some wins to give us crucial team points.”
The sectional win topped off an exceptional season for the Arlington wrestlers, as the team won 25 dual meets against only two losses. Along the way the team ran up a streak of 23 straight victories before being nipped by one point in losing to Nashoba Regional at the Division Two dual-meet tournament a week ago.
Before the sectionals, Arlington completed its regular dual meet season by overwhelming Wilmington High, 39-13, in "the Pit" at AHS. Although the visitors had only 11 varsity wrestlers, Cummings elected to wrestle them straight up and not take any of the three forfeits available.
The Spy Ponders jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead, thanks to a decision by sophomore Evan Lee and a pin by Romero. However, Wilmington had some strong wrestlers in the lower weights and reversed the situation by pushing ahead, 13-9. But the locals responded by taking the next six matches to close out the meet. Shriber, Kechriotis, Cha and Gillis all scored pins, while McGahan and senior Dylan Fournier contributed decisions to take down the visiting Wildcats.
The eight AHS wrestlers who placed among the top four at the sectionals automatically qualify for the Division Two state tournament, to be held at Milton High on Saturday, Feb. 22. The boys who finished in fifth or sixth place will serve as alternates in case someone from the Metro section who finished ahead of them cannot compete Saturday.
AHS takes down Belmont, wins Middlesex
After edging out Winchester in a hard-fought struggle a week earlier, only Belmont High stood between the Arlington wrestling team and its repeating as Middlesex League Liberty Division champions. In the end, the Belmont match wasn’t much of a contest, as the Spy Ponders blew out the visiting Marauders, 47-4, in the Pit on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
The Arlington boys won seven of the eight matches contested, while Belmont’s 170-pound captain Max Dionne was the only winner for the visitors.
Details vs. Belmont
Sophomore Evan Lee started things off with a fall in the lowest weight class. His win was followed by a major decision at the hands of captain Noe Romero and then another fall by Glenn Doyle. Eamon Madden added a 10-1 major decision, while Louis Shriber kicked in a 7-2 win over a wrestler he had split with at last month’s Belmont tourney.
Captain Yanni Kechriotis bounced back from his first loss of the season five days earlier with a first-period pin, and just like that Arlington had an insurmountable 41-0 lead. The team had also picked up two forfeits along the way. After Belmont’s Dionne registered a major win over AHS sophomore Denis Cha, Arlington’s 220-pounder Charles Gillis kept his unbeaten streak alive with a pin in the final bout of the night. In the spirit of sportsmanship, AHS Coach Kevin Cummings elected not to take forfeits in four other weight classes where Belmont had no competitor; those matches were declared no contests.
Dual meet Feb. 8
At the Division Two Dual Meet tournament on Saturday, Feb. 8, at North Andover High, the Ponders started the day by securing their 24 win of the season against only one loss by outscoring Algonquin Regional High of Northborough, 42-31. Although the boys seemed a little drowsy thanks to the early 8:30 a.m. start, they submitted enough strong performances to get the win that would advance them to the quarterfinals.
Lee and Romero started things off with a pin apiece. Adding a forfeit as well helped the team jump out to an 18-0 lead. However, Algonquin started to chip away at that lead, taking three of the next four weight classes. Pins at the hands of Conor McGahan, Kechriotis and Henri Schuette helped to right the ship by pushing the team’s lead to 36-15. Another forfeit to senior Henry Raughley ensured the victory.
The next meet against Nashoba Regional of Bolton promised to be a much more highly contested encounter as that team came into the tourney ranked higher than Arlington on Mass Wrestling.
Once again, thanks to the efforts of Romero (a major decision) and Doyle (a pin), the Ponders jumped out to an early 10-0 lead. Two matches later, McGahan added a minor decision and Kechriotis was awarded a forfeit, giving Arlington a 23-9 lead and a good chance to pull off an upset.
However, Nashoba’s best wrestlers scored a decision and two pins in the next three bouts, and suddenly the regional boys had taken a slim 24-23 lead. When Brody Flannery eked out a two-point win over Raughley at 195-pounds, giving Nashoba a 27-23 advantage, the Ponders’ chances for victory came down to the last three matches.
Gillis did his best by scoring a 7-2 win but was unable to secure the necessary pin as he has all season. Brody Flannery’s older brother, Joe, scored a pin at heavyweight, putting the contest out of Arlington’s reach, at 33-26. Lee did his job in the last bout by scoring a pin, but it was too little too late as the locals dropped only their second contest of the season, this one by one point, at 33-32. The loss eliminated Arlington from the tournament.
“This was a tough one to lose,” said Coach Cummings. “When a match is this close every single point counts. We had several opportunities to win or at least tie the meet, but we let them slip away.”
The Ponders will finish their dual-meet season with a 6 p.m. match against Wilmington this Wednesday, Feb. 12, at AHS. After that, it will be onto the Division Two Metro Sectionals at Burlington on Saturday, Feb. 15.
Ponders defeat Winchester, aim for league title
It was supposed to be the match-up of the two premiere programs in the Liberty Division of the Middlesex League, and the showdown between Arlington and Winchester Jan. 29 more than lived up to that promise. In the end, the Spy Ponders edged the host Sachems at their gym, 29-24.
All that now stands in the way of the Arlington High wrestlers repeating as division champs is a dual meet with Belmont in “the Pit” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5.
The Winchester contest was an exciting back-and-forth battle before a large, raucous crowd. The host team jumped out to 3-0 lead before Arlington captain Noe Romero put his team up, 6-3, with a decisive pin.
Fending off pins
Although Arlington dropped the next two bouts by major decisions, the fact that neither freshman Sean McCaffrey nor junior Eamon Madden succumbed to pins proved to be crucial to the meet’s final result.
With the Sachems leading, 11-10, junior Conor McGahan submitted a hard-fought 4-2 victory over Elias Kourafalos to put Arlington back on top by two. However, Winchester regained a one-point advantage when Will Stewart won a decision over Louis Shriber in the next bout.
AHS senior captain Yanni Kechriotis then responded with a major decision, and in doing so kept his undefeated record for the season intact. Winchester hit back by taking the next two bouts to recapture the lead, 21-17.
Ponder Senior captain David Lopes brought his team to within one, at 21-20, with an 8-4 decision over Steve Rozmanith, before Winchester took the next match, 7-5, to regain the lead, at 24-20.
Praise from Cummings
With only two matches remaining, Arlington’s Henry Raughley was bumped up a weight class to wrestle at 220-pounds. In the end, the extra poundage didn’t seem hurt the senior, as he dominated his opponent, 10-3.
At this point, Arlington trailed, 24-23, going into the heavyweight bout matching Winchester’s Brendan Gill against Arlington’s 220-pounder captain Charles Gillis, also moving up a weight class. As he’s done all season, Gillis score a pin to seal his club’s victory.
Afterward, Arlington Coach Kevin Cummings commented, “That was just a great high school wrestling match. They don’t get any more exciting than this.”
With only one day’s rest in between, the Arlington wrestlers hosted a tri-meet on Friday, Jan. 31, with Tyngsboro and Essex Tech of Danvers. Tyngsboro came in with some highly regraded wrestlers, and Coach Cummings hoped his boys had enough energy left after their dramatic win two nights before at Winchester.
The Ponders opened up a 12-0 lead, thanks to a Tyngsboro forfeit and yet another pin by Romero. After a major decision by Tyngsboro’s Kevin McCarthy, Madden and McGahan each registered falls, to put their team ahead, 24-4.
It was important for Arlington to get out to an early lead knowing that Tyngsboro’s strength was in its next five weight classes. After dropping the first of these, Ponder captain Kechriotis faced his strongest competition of the season in his bout with Tyngsboro’s Josh Ducharme. In the end, Ducharme prevailed, handing Kechriotis his first loss of the year.
At this point, Arlington held an 11-point lead, which was increased to 27-13 thanks to a decision by junior Henri Schuette. Tyngsboro cut that lead to five, winning the next two bouts, one by decision and one by pin.
But Arlington had a few aces in the hole. They knew Tyngsboro still would have to forfeit two matches, and Arlington had its big boy Gillis ready for combat. As expected, Gillis scored a pin and Evan Lee took the final forfeit to ensure Arlington a 45-28 win and its 21st victory of the season.
Essex Tech presented less of a threat as they only had nine wrestlers competing. Cummings decided to use the occasion to give some of his second-string wrestlers a chance to compete. The gamble paid off as senior Dylan Fournier and sophomore Victor Chelariu came up with pins.
Shriber, Kechriotis, Denis Cha and Mike Pesiridis all added pins of their own to give their team an insurmountable 34-6 lead. Romero ended the night with a five-point tech fall for a 39-6 victory that extended Arlington’s winning streak to 22 straight matches.
Wrestling summaries by Sam Kafrissen: Dec. 17, 2019, through Jan. 27, 2020
This news summary by Sam Kafrissen was published Thursday, Jan 27, 2020, and updated March 13.
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