Whittier Wildcats Wrestling '14-'15

Cincotta joy trumps the pain

BEVERLY — The Division 2 state wrestling tournament featured a Brandon Desfosses buzzer-beating, title-winning takedown and included a Fritz Hoehn three-peat as well as a Central Catholic freshman winning his first.

But the evening clearly belonged to Stephen Cincotta.

Just ask the members of the impromptu family reunion on the side of the mat who were unable to contain tears of joy — not even a wrestling coach of a father, who got a bit misty. Those tears were prompted by a North Andover senior winning a 182-pound state title that two years ago seemed as improbable as a date with Kate Upton.

Forced out of action early his sophomore year for labrum surgery on both shoulders, Cincotta returned to the mat this year but didn't wrestle in a tournament until winning the previous week's sectional to protect the shoulder.

"I really can't say that I imagined it," Cincotta said after his convincing 11-7 decision over Malden Catholic's Ian Steckel. "I just knew I had to keep working hard to get here. And that's what I did. I finally figured out that hard work pays off because I'm a state champion and that's the best feeling."

The shoulder surgeries six months apart actually weren't the first time under the knife for Cincotta, who also had work done three times on his right elbow, twice for meniscus tears in his right knee in middle school and a surgery on a finger.

"I'm glad I came back from all these injuries," said Cincotta, who does his best to downplay the pain he endures. "After my first (shoulder) surgery, everyone told me I was done .. and that I'm crazy for doing this. But I had so much success in the youth (wrestling), that I wanted to do something in high school because that's where it matters."

Cincotta plans on wrestling in this week's All States but regardless of how he fares, it might be the last time he dons the uniform.

"My goal was to help the team win a state championship and win the state championship for myself," said Cincotta, who is 26-2 on the season and 46-10 in his career. "I'm pretty happy with this. At this point there really isn't anything else I can do for the team.

"I've done everything I can do for the team, and that's what's most important. So that's where my journey (probably) ends."

Whatever he and his family decides after this weekend, Cincotta probably can't build on the ecstasy he provided yesterday.

"We knew this (division title) was the goal," said father and coach Carl Cincotta. We didn't know if he'd make it to this point, and that was the biggest issue. He's had a very, very tough year. He's been in pain everyday. It's difficult for him to finish a practice because of the pain."

Desfosses drama

The Central Catholic junior averted disaster early in this 145-pound bout with top-seeded Ronan Ball of Nashoba late in the first period when his ankle gave way. He did a great job not falling in the center of the mat, instead stumbling backward to the edge of the mat.

"I felt something that wasn't right," Desfosses said, while icing his ankle in the trainer's room after his match. "I had a tough time putting pressure on it ... I was in a lot of pain. But I knew I was going to be able to finish up."

Considering Desfosses had been pinned by Ball early in the season, things appeared bleak during the injury timeout, and after falling behind 4-2 with less than 80 seconds remaining, the situation seemed dire. But an escape with 63 seconds left ignited some hope.

"I knew if I kept putting pressure on him, I knew he'd make a mistake and I could capitalize on it," he said.

That looked prophetic when he pulled Ball down with 4.6 ticks on the clock, but unfortunately that potential takedown was ruled off the mat.

"I thought right then and there, that there was no way I could win it," said Desfosses, who finished third at 132 last year. "But I thought I couldn't give up, so I went after it."

And a powerful leg dive drove his opponent to the mat as the horn went off.

"Yeah, I did," said Desfosses when asked if he surprised himself.

A decision on whether he can wrestle this weekend will be decided after a doctor's visit.

Freshman first

Desfosses teammate Joey Sanchez not only kicked off the finals on a winning note, but also raised expectations for his upcoming three years with a 10-6 decision over South Easton's Brett Wordell for the 106-pound title. Sanchez led 7-6 before putting Wordell on his back with about 30 seconds left.

The victory capped a dominating tournament for the youngster, who entered as the top seed and pinned his first three opponents.

"I always wanted to be a state champ," said Sanchez (41-3). "I knew with the right amount of training, it would happen. It feels awesome. Now I want to be in the top three of All States and make it to New Englands."

Hoehn wins third

The most dominating wrestler of the affair was no surprise as Hoehn pinned all four of his opponents in a combined 4:04. The finale against Catholic Memorial's Josh Bechen ended in 92 seconds.

Knights runners-up

North Andover's Jack Perry at 113 finished second as did the Knights, who were four points behind team winner Nashoba's 127. Other top placers were Stephen Manning (120) and Mathieu Messina (195), who both finished fourth, and Peter Taylor, who was fifth at 126.

Central Catholic was sixth with 87 points and received a third-place from Jack Kiely at 120 and a fourth from Donovan Nolan at 160.

Whittier's Sidney Taylor earned a fourth place at heavyweight after the first-year wrestler lost a semifinal earlier in the day. Chris Eyssi of Greater Lawrence was sixth at 182.

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