At this level, it’s all about first-day performance.
The divisional state wrestling tournaments began Friday at three high schools — Methuen (Division 1), Milton (D2), and Wayland (D3). It’s the start of two days of increased competition, with 672 wrestlers in brackets of 16 across three divisions vying for individual championships while earning points for a team title.
Because only one team advanced its full lineup out of last Saturday’s sectionals — D1 West champion West Springfield — how a team performs on its first day likely dictates where it will finish.
Jamie Durkin, coach of defending Division 2 champion Central Catholic, likes the Raiders’ chance for a repeat. Central qualified eight wrestlers from last weekend’s North sectional — South champion Sharon has 10 and Central champ Natick has 11 — but the Raiders expect to compensate with talent.
“We’ve got five guys that won sectionals, we’re guaranteed to get at least three in the semis,” said Durkin, whose team also won the Division 2 Coaches Duals and D2 North. “That first day is huge.”
Durkin thinks his three locks are sophomore 106-pounder Jimmy Glynn, who likely will have a difficult semifinal match with Burlington junior Zack Soda, senior 138-pounder Mikey Glynn, and junior 220-pounder Anthony Mears. The elder Glynn brother, who is 41-0 this season, lost to Danvers’s Maximillian Leete in last year’s 120-pound final. But Glynn will avoid Leete this year because Leete is at 132. Leete, a junior and Greco-Roman All-American, will be going for his third consecutive state title.
Two favorites in Division 1 and Division 3 can also complete the trifecta of winning the Coaches Association Duals, and sectional and state championships.
In Division 3, Melrose coach Larry Tremblay is hunting for his first state title with the Red Raiders after winning seven at Winchester from 1980-2018.
Melrose beat Wakefield in the duals finals on Feb. 8 and then by 44.5 points for the Division 3 North title. Melrose qualified 10 wrestlers for the state tournament, nine of whom placed in the top three at sectionals. Seniors Hunter Adrian (120) and Sean Herbert (152) are both aiming to be four-time state finalists. Adrian is wrestling for his fourth state title, Herbert for his third. Tremblay thinks winning this tournament would prove Melrose is the best team in Division 3.
“I’m proud of that dual meet state thing because not all of us in high school were great wrestlers and that’s a team accomplishment. Everybody gets to celebrate that,” Tremblay said. “I think if you win both [the duals and states] it proves there’s nobody better than you.”
Division 3 South champion Foxborough also qualified 10 wrestlers and host Wayland will have 11 with home-mat advantage. Foxborough and Wayland placed third and fourth at last year’s state tournament, respectively, with half a point separating them. Melrose placed fifth.
The Division 1 tournament is where the most parity and depth may be.
Aside from West champion West Springfield bringing its full lineup — a rarity even among the best teams, North champ St. John’s Prep qualified 12 wrestlers, Central champion Franklin is sending 11, and South champion New Bedford qualified eight. Defending champion Springfield Central brings 12, and Central runner-up Brookline qualified 11 wrestlers.
Wrestling began Friday at 10 a.m. in Methuen and 11:30 a.m. in Milton and Wayland. Saturday’s action begins at 9:30 a.m. in Methuen and 11 a.m. for Divisions 2 and 3.
Finals will start between 1:30 and 2 p.m. (Division 1) and 3 and 4 p.m. (Divisions 2 and 3). The top six wrestlers from each weight class will advance to the All-State tournament at Methuen High Feb. 28-29.Brandon Chase can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.