Eagles' wrestling wins dual meet championship

Courtesy photo. Members of the St. John's Prep wrestling team celebrate their win at this Saturday's State Coaches Div. 1 Duel Championship meet. 

The talented St. John's Prep wrestling squad has their eyes set on bringing home the first state championship in program history. 

So when they came out on top in this past Saturday's State Coaches Division 1 Dual Championship, their confidence in obtaining that goal was only bolstered. 

Thanks to an all-around team performance, the Eagles ultimately beat out West Springfield, 41-17, to claim the title. In addition, they topped Framingham, 68-4, and a Springfield Central which they fell to in last year's finals, 38-24. 

The victory marks the third time longtime Prep head coach Manny Costa has guided his group to dual supremacy, also having done so in 2013 and 2015. 

"We were obviously hoping to win the tournament but we knew the top teams there were all very, very good," said Costa. "We won 35-33 over West Springfield in early January so we knew that the team that showed up ready was going to come out on top. All 14 of our guys really brought it and showed up to wrestle."

In total, the Eagles won 32 of their 42 matches on the day and wrapped up the regular season with an unbeaten 34-0-1 record. 

Following the convincing opening bout win over Framingham, Adam Shaeublin (106 pounds) and Alec Runnals (126) each recorded pins while Nick Curley (forfeit), Cam Paolillo (4-1 decision), Quinn Alexander (5-3), Rawson Iwanicki (17-0), Matt Mitchell (6-1), Achiles Gikas (8-6, OT) and Owen Gaffney (3-2) all won their matches as well to top Springfield Central. 

In the finals triumph over West Springfield, Shaeublin (17-1), Curley (forfeit), Paolillo (forfeit), Runnals (pin), Iwanicki (pin), Jordan Young (pin), Mitchell (4-3), Gikas (9-0), Marty Roach (7-2) and Gaffney (pin) were all victorious. 

It was the perfect ending to a near-perfect regular season for the Eagles. 

"It's just a family atmosphere here so it's like they all did this with their brothers," said Costa. "We had a lot of fans show up, an entire section of bleachers was filled with parents, family and friends. But the kids were happy to be able to go undefeated, and especially to win a tournament where the four best teams in the state were ... it just shows that our regular season wasn't a fluke."

St. John's will now focus their attention to this coming Saturday's Div. 1 sectional meet at Methuen High. 

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