Senior standout Kevin Ell’s dramatic title win in the 220-pound weight class stood up as the Pinkerton Academy wrestling team’s high water mark at the Division I Championships at Concord High School last Saturday, Feb. 22.
But the Astro squad’s sixth-place team finish out of a dozen scoring contingents at the event won for an amazing 15th consecutive time by the Timberlane Regional Owls of Plaistow was certainly nothing to sneeze at, given the fact that just a few short weeks ago the academy team was totally unable to perform due to a team-wide illness that forced the cancellations of several matches.
Pinkerton will now host the state Meet of Champions (MOC) in its own Hackler Gymnasium this weekend.
Despite being drenched in sweat and huffing and puffing noticeably after claiming the 5-3, championship-round victory over Timberlane’s Sean Grenier, which made him the D-I 220-pound champ, Ell was clearly one happy Astro.
The seasoned Pinkerton veteran and Grenier waged an intense battle in which the lead rolled back and forth into and out of each wrestler’s favor.
Trailing by a point at 3-2 at the end of the second of three periods, Ell managed to knot the score at 3-3 early in the third and then bag the huge two points he needed on a fine spin move that made it a 5-3 bout with 1:25 remaining. And 5-3 is right where it would remain until Ell could slide into his modest celebration mode.
“I’d wrestled (Grenier) twice before, and I beat him 3-0 the last time and 7-1 the first time,” said Ell. “I tried really hard not to get underneath him because he has a really strong base. When I was down 3-2, I was kind of nervous, but I got it.”
Ell is one of six Pinkerton grapplers who have advanced to the MOC. The others include runner-up finishers Shayne McCann in the 113-pound class and Dylan Barreiro at 170, and fifth-place finishers Brett Wilson (at 152), Hunter Morris (182), and Joey Lydick (195).
Second-place finisher Shayne McCann fell to Nashua North’s Marcel LaPlante in the 113 title bout, and his fellow runner-up Barreiro was just barely bested by Manchester Central’s Keaton Peterson by a 3-2 tally in the 170 title contest.