By Dan Harrison
---- — BEVERLY — Every team has its tone setters.
A high school wrestling squad is no different.
Beverly High may be a young team, but when its three strong seniors — Jonah Feingold at 120 pounds, Joe Kozlowski at 145 and Tom Wilbur at 170 — bring their best efforts, the Panthers are a tough matchup.
Last night with Marblehead/Swampscott visiting, the Panthers’ senior trio each scored pins over their opponents as the hosts claimed a 22-13 victory over the Black-and-Blue.
“Those guys set the tone for the team in both practice and in matches,” Beverly (13-9) head coach Mark Thomas said of Feingold, Kozlowski and Wilbur. “They work really hard and that rubs off on everyone else.”
Marblehead/Swampscott took an early 4-0 lead thanks to Stephen Hopkins, who opened with a 14-1 decision over John Jones at 106 pounds. Beverly rebounded immediately when Feingold took the mat for the 120-pound match against Michael Haskell. Feingold dominated the first round before pinning Haskell in the final 10 seconds of the opening period to put the Panthers in the lead, 6-4.
Later, with his team trailing 10-6, Kozlowski put the Panthers back in the lead when he pinned Max Bazarrov early in the second round after he had dominated the opening period by a score of 5-0. Beverly reclaimed the lead, 12-10.
Beverly’s Alberto Oyola followed with a win by decision at 152 pounds over David Bolognese before Wilbur put the contest out of reach with his win at 170, pinning Joe Warren midway through the first period to give Beverly a commanding 22-10 lead with just one match remaining.
Even though the visiting Black-and-Blue (a combination of wrestlers from Marblehead and Swampscott) have just seven wrestlers, it was extremely important that the Panthers pick up the win against a Northeasern Conference/Cape Ann League rival.
“Every league match is important; we treat them all the same. Any time you get a win in the league it’s a good thing,” explained Thomas, who knew his boys were excited to wrestle in front of the home crowd.
“This was a bonus. It was supposed to be at Marblehead, but because of the snow (earlier this week) we got it here. The kids are always excited to wrestle at home and it’s always nice to win in your own gym.”
The Black-and-Blue didn’t get the victory but had some inspiring performances, led by their two seniors. Cam Budrow won by pin in the second round over Beverly’s Will Bennett at 132, while fellow senior Ali Atallah won by an 8-2 decision at 182 pounds in the final match of the night.
The seniors’ performance drew praise from head coach Mike Stamison, who also was very pleased with the way Hopkins wrestled considering he’s just a freshman.
“I liked the way our two seniors wrestled and they both won, which is big for seeding at the CAL/NEC meet in two weeks. And their wins were over quality opponents,” noted Mike Stamison.
“With seven guys it’s tough to win dual meets, but I thought we came in not afraid and wrestled well. And Stephen Hopkins looks like he may make some noise at sectionals.”
The Black-and-Blue will be at home next Wednesday against Salem on Senior Night. Beverly, meanwhile, is home for its next three matches and looks to continue to build momentum going into the league meet and sectionals.
“I’m excited about where we are right now. We’ve made a lot of strides the last couple of weeks,” said Thomas. “We started off the season young but now those younger guys have gotten their feet wet. They are moving through the season well and coming along nicely.”