Happy Holidays for 3 Locals
LOWELL -- The George Bossi Lowell Holiday Wrestling Tournament is the ultimate early-season proving ground for high school wrestlers throughout the region.
Winning a Holiday title often serves as a springboard to pinning down success at the big year-end tournaments.
This year’s tournament featured a 76-team field that included many of the top programs in New England. And when the two-day grind was over, three local grapplers made it to the top of the victory stand.
Chelmsford’s Evan Kinney (106 pounds), Alvirne’s Kyle Gora (170) and Shawsheen Tech’s Omar Eldaly (220) won Bossi/Holiday crowns at the Tsongas Center Friday night.
Shawsheen was the top local school, placing fourth in the team standings with 134 points. Springfield Central won the team title with 177 points. Central Catholic was 10th and Chelmsford 12th.
In the 106 final, Kinney defeated Ben Davoli of Haverhill, 8-2. Kinney, a sophomore, is a defending Division 1 state champion. He was the No. 1 seed at 106.
“It feels pretty good,” said Kinney. “It’s a big tournament. There’s going to be pressure no matter what at every tournament. It doesn’t matter about seeding, you have to go out and wrestle to the best of your ability.”
Last winter Kinney was the first Lion wrestler to win a state title as a freshman. He improved his record for the season to 16-1. Kinney is Chelmsford’s first Holiday champion in 10 years (Tim Rich 2008).
“He did an awesome job,” said Chelmsford coach Bruce Rich. “Evan is just so tough. He works really hard for everything he gets. He’s very deserving. He worked hard in the off-season. He has a great work ethic and it is paying off for him.”
At 170, Gora won by injury default over Seth Carney of Essex, Vt. Gora was leading 5-2 with 1:29 remaining in the third period when Carney was injured and it was determined he wouldn’t be able to finish the match.
“This is a special win,” said Gora, a sophomore, who had an outstanding season at quarterback while leading Alvirne’s football team to the Division 2 state final. “I’ve been working at it since last year, when I came in third. I lost in the semis last year. I battled back and trained for this. This is a tournament I wanted to win.”
Gora placed second at the N.H. Division 1 tourney and Meet of Champions as a freshman. The top seed at 170, Gora has won all 13 of his matches this season.
“He’s a good leader on our team,” said Alvirne coach Mike Gregory. “He’s a guy who puts in a lot of work. He’s a technical wrestler. He pushes the pace. There are still a few little things we have to fine tune, but he’s doing awesome.”
In the 220 final, Eldaly grinded out a 4-1 victory over Noah Giffard of Concord, N.H. Eldaly, a senior, was the No. 1 seed at 220. He got a late takedown in the third period that sealed the victory.
“This is my biggest win yet,” said Eldaly. “Winning this is a big deal. It sets the tone for the rest of the season.
“It’s a great feeling winning this. I can’t really describe it. It’s just awesome.”
Eldaly placed second at 220 at the New England and All-State Tournaments last season. He is off to a 16-0 start this year.
“He’s a Holiday champ and it’s well-deserved,” said Shawsheen coach Mark Donovan. “He’s one of the hardest workers in our room. He’s a four-year wrestler. He’s a great athlete. You can see his ability out there, and it’s second to none. He earned this.”
Also placing for Shawsheen Tech were Austin Dube (5th, 113), Frank Foti (7th, 120) and Stephan Saint-Juste (8th, 160).
Billerica’s James Best (132), Chelmsford’s Evan Goodall (145) and Tewksbury’s Dylan Chandler (285) posted fourth-place finishes.
Mark Thomas of Tyngsboro was fifth at 170, while Aaron Diaz of Lowell placed seventh at 195. Burlington’s placewinners were Cameron Soda (3rd, 113) and Zachary Soda (5th, 106).
Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi