There are a lot of ingredients that go into a championship season: senior leadership, coaching, numbers, a youth program that supplies talented, experienced athletes who are well-schooled in the sport’s fundamentals and just some hard-working, dedicated athletes.
All of those ingredients fell into place for the Concord-Carlisle wrestling team this winter. The result was a Dual County League Large School title.
The Patriots clinched the DCL Large title, their first since moving up from the Small School Division three years ago, with a win against Westford Academy on Wednesday, Jan. 25.
C-C swept the league slate with victories against Boston Latin, Lincoln-Sudbury and Wayland before defeating the Grey Ghosts.
“We have a great group of seniors,” said C-C coach Craig Carpenter. “Three of them are captains. The fourth (joined the team) this year. They’ve all done a good job setting the tone for the younger kids.”
After the win over Westford, C-C traveled to Duxbury on Saturday, Jan. 28 for a dual meet tournament. The Patriots won two of their three dual meets, defeating Northbridge and Winchester and losing to eventual tournament champion Chelmsford. Their overall record is 13-5.
The Patriots accomplished this while giving up 12 points in every meet. Though the team has 35 wrestlers on its roster, 14 start in a varsity meet with one in each weight class, it does not have a wrestler at 106 or 119 pounds, giving the opposition forfeits at each weight, with six team points apiece.
“The guys go out and do what they have to do,” Carpenter said. “They concentrate on getting the pins, the technical falls and the major decisions and the extra points that go with them.”
In dual meets, a regular decision is worth three points. A major decision, a win by 7-14 points, is worth four and a technical fall is worth five. A pin is worth six points, same as a forfeit. The bout ends after one wrestler takes a lead of 15 or more points.
They will take part in another dual meet tournament on Saturday, Feb. 4 in North Andover at the unofficial state dual meet championships. The following weekend, the MIAA postseason begins with the Division 3 Central sectional championships. The next two weekends are the Division 2 state and All-State tournaments. Individual placewinners from each weekend’s tournament advance to the next tournament. In early March, for those who qualify head to the New England championship tournament.
Historically, C-C’s wrestling program has had its ups and downs. In 1984, with a losing dual meet record, C-C won the New England title. The Patriots captured the DCL title in 2005, when the league was just one group of schools, not broken into large and small divisions
Carpenter, who is a psychologist at C-C, is in his sixth year leading the program. He was previously an assistant coach at Lawrence High School. He wrestled at Catholic Memorial and Harvard University.
Assistant coach Jonny Mangini also works in the school.
“He has an exercise science background and puts together our strength and conditioning program,” Carpenter said. “The kids respond well to him.”
C-C’s captains are Bud West, Conor Murphy and Joe Lavery. West, a two-year captain who wrestles at 152 pounds, placed second in the Wayland Invitational Tournament and won his weight at the Brendan Grant Invitational in Belmont.
Murphy, who wrestled at 160, placed seventh at the George Bossi Lowell Holiday Tournament during the Christmas vacation week. The two-day tournament at UMass-Lowell drew 87 teams from all over New England.
Lavery wrestles at 170. The fourth senior, Jonathan Charles, is a first-year wrestler. He competes at 195 and earned a pin that helped C-C defeat Boston Latin this year.
One of the things that’s helped C-C improve over the years is a youth program. Coached by former C-C wrestlers Jason Mestancik and Rick Fadden, the youth program has been around for about seven years.
“We’re really starting to see the payoff,” Carpenter said.
Some graduates of the youth program who have been making contributions include Eddie Myles, Kian Amouzgar and Miles Mattaliano. Grady Snarr, who began wrestling as a freshman, has also gotten into the starting lineup.
Regardless of each wrestler’s experience, Carpenter has been impressed with how the team prepares for each match.
“They have an awesome work ethic,” Carpenter said. “Sometimes I have to get them to slow down a little. They come in before school to lift weights. Some of them go to Doughboy,” a wrestling club in Lowell that has several of the state’s top wrestlers among its ranks. “They go to camps in the summer,” he said.
Heading into the final month of the season, with the sectional, state, All-State and New England tournaments coming up, Carpenter is hoping to see as many of his wrestlers keep wrestling for as long as possible.
“We want to get as many kids as we can to states,” he said.