Youthful Astro Wrestling Squad Relying on Veterans

Veteran talent and leadership and the development of youngsters will all be major keys for the Pinkerton Academy wrestling contingent as it steps into the 2015-16 campaign with not one but two season-opening competitions at Salem High School this week.

Coach Dave Rhoads’ Astros have a significant amount of talent back from a strong but oft-injured 2014-15 contingent which posted a fine 13-7 record and finished fourth at both the Division I championships and the state Meet of Champions earlier this year.

But there are also a bunch of freshmen sliding into Astro singlets for the first time this winter, and their development will be important to the PA wrestling program.

The Astros began the 2015-16 season with a dual meet at Salem High this Wednesday, Dec. 9, after Nutfield News press-time, and they’ll be right back in Blue Devil territory this Saturday at the annual Blue Devil Classic.

“With about half of the team from the freshman class, our success will depend on how quickly they can learn to be successful from the upperclassmen,” said Rhoads.

And just about any coach in the state would be pleased to have at least one of those upperclassmen, with senior co-captain Dylan Barreiro back in the fold after enjoying a remarkable 2014-15 campaign.

Barreiro was an absolute powerhouse in the three major post-season tournaments, winning a Division I championship, a state Meet of Champions crown, and a New England title as well. And in the wake of that tremendous success, coach Rhoads saw no reason to hold back regarding what he thought of the star grappler’s skills and commitment to his sport.

“Dylan is something special. He’s at the top of the charts in focus, intensity, and work ethic. He puts so much effort into becoming a better wrestler, and the results speak for themselves,” said Rhoads.

Barreiro has slimmed down some from the 195 pounds at which he wrestled last winter, and he’s stepping into the new campaign as a 182-pounder for PA.

Other important returnees on coach Rhoads’ roster are senior MOC champ Joey Lydick at 220 pounds, senior co-captain Keygan Nacos at 113, and 126-pound junior Shayne McCann, who took first places at both the D-I and Meet of Champions events earlier this year.

Other important, battle-tested veterans are seniors Derek Lowe (145 pounds), Gil Culbertson (152), and Christian Sullivan (170), and juniors Derek Wilson (120) and Deene Hill (285).

Other returnees are juniors Zach Vigroux at 138 pounds, Jake Weishaar at 195, and Nathan Barnhart in the 132-pound class. And the newcomers include juniors Dylan Fischer (285) and freshmen Walker Stinson (106), Tyler Mackiernan (132),  Kyle Setzer (160), and Robbie Fahey (220).

As was the case last winter and during a number of winters prior to that, Timberlane of Plaistow, Concord, and Londonderry are seen as being among the favorites to drive for a Division I title this season. The LHS Lancers ended Timberlane’s 15-year stranglehold on the D-I crown near the end of the 2014-15 campaign and would like nothing better than to repeat the feat.