By Dan Harrison
---- — SWAMPSCOTT — The Marblehead/Swampscott wrestling team waited the entire winter season for the opportunity to wrestle in front of a home crowd. When the time finally came for the Black and Blue to showcase their skills in their own gymnasium, coach Mike Stamison’s boys rose to the occasion and took home their second win of the season.
With Salem visiting the Swampscott gym last night, Marblehead/Swampscott earned a 36-30 win.
“It’s nice to get a win on Senior Night,” said Stamison. “We have a pretty big youth program and a lot of the young kids were in attendance. It’s a good wrestling gym and we’re lucky to wrestle here. It was a perfect night.”
There were only five varsity matches on the night as both squads were forced to forfeit at a number of weight classes. Salem (2-13) was forced to forfeit at two more spots than the Black and Blue, giving Marblehead/Swampscott a 12-point advantage.
Ali Atallah wrestled the Witches’ Ed Duran at 182 in the opening match of the night and the Black and Blue’s senior captain did not disappoint, pinning his opponent less than a minute into the match.
The only other winner for Marblehead/Swampscott was freshman Stephen Hopkins over Jonathon Connelly at 113. Hopkins dominated throughout the opening round eventually scoring the pin with just three seconds left in the period.
Fellow senior Cam Budrow wrestled up a weight class to 138 and while he was bested by Salem’s Peter Duffy, Stamison was pleased with the effort he got from one of just four seniors on the team.
“Ali stuck his kid within a minute, Hopkins wrestled great and Cam we bumped up to 138,” said Stamison. “We told him (Budrow), this is what sports are all about. You’re only as good as your competition.”
The Witches actually won the last three matches by pin as Duffy, sophomore Javier Robles (145) and junior Caleb Brown (152) helped Salem climb back to within six points.
Duffy had some mass on Budrow and it showed early as Salem’s 138-pounder was in control early but a bloody nose resulted in a timeout midway through the first round with Duffy in good position. The Witches junior was able to pin his man in the second round.
Robles pinned Noah Levine in the third round in a match that was a war of attrition. Robles used his speed and tenacity to keep Levine on the defensive until finally Robles wore him down in the third round and was able to get the pin.
In the last varsity bout of the night, Brown defeated David Bolognese with a pin in the second round. Bolognese actually had position before Brown used a nice reversal move to get his opponent’s back on the mat.
“Those three guys (Duffy, Robles and Brown) have been working real hard all season,” said Salem head coach Greg Gibson. “Those three made a commitment to have a good season and help the younger guys. Having three good wrestlers give us momentum going into next season. For such a small squad it’s nice to have a couple of good wrestlers who will make noise in the CAL/NEC as well as in Division 2’s.”
The Black and Blue’s fourth senior, Ben Grant, didn’t have a dancing partner for the varsity match but did have the opportunity to wrestle in the JV match. Stamison spoke about what the four seniors- Grant, Atallah, Budrow and Bolognese- have meant to the program.
“They’ve given us steadiness,” noted Stamison. “Ali wrestles even when he’s hurt, Ben, David and Cam never miss practice. They are all steady, quiet leaders and solid kids.”