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Timberlane Owls Wrestling '07-'08

Sat, Jan 26, 2008 10:00 AM @ Lowell
Team Final
Timberlane 27
Lowell 27

Owls settle for apparent tie; Lowell claims win

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Sunday, January, 27 By Dave Dyer
Staff writer

Technically, Timberlane fell from the ranks of the unbeaten yesterday, but you might be hard pressed to convince many of the Owls that it happened.

And, as it turns out, the Owls may have only added a tie to their record, not a loss, although Lowell disputes that. In a barnburner of a dual meet between the defending Division 1 state champions of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the Owls (14-0-1) rallied from a 27-13 deficit with four straight wins to tie the meet, 27-27, only to temporarily drop the decision on the third criteria, which | by federation rules | is number of pins.

Both teams won seven matches, but Lowell's two pins were one more than Timberlane, a fact that sent the Lowell faithful into a jubilant celebration.

But hold on. It turns out that Massachusetts does not use Federation rules to break a deadlock and the meet officially will stand as a tie.

"We went back to that (ties) three years ago," said St. John's Prep coach Manny Costa, who is the Massachusetts coach's representative on the MIAA wrestling board. "It's a strict rule. Unless it's a dual-meet tournament, which this was not, it's a tie."

Timberlane coach Barry Chooljian, who left the meet believing his team had dropped a controversial heartbreaker, didn't know what to make of the decision.

"I didn't know anything about the Massachusetts rules," said Chooljian. "I was under the impression we were using Federation rules, but I guess we weren't. I'm not sure what to tell my team."

Lowell coach Tim O'Keefe, meanwhile, believes his team did prevail.

"I'm going by how we left the meet," said O'Keefe. "We were using Federation rules and there was a Mass. ref right there. As far as I'm concerned, we won."

Moreover, Steve Tassini, a MIAA wrestling commissioner, claims that it should only remain a tie if both schools are MIAA schools. "Outside of that, it can't be a tie," he said. But, says Mass. official Steve Eddy of Topsfield, the meet should stand as a tie. "Unless the coaches talked about it before the meet, it has to remain a tie," said Eddy.

Even a tie would be somewhat tough to accept for the Owls, many of whom felt they deserved to win outright.

In the second to last match, the Lowell heavyweight smartly stalled the entire match to Owls' standout Brian Nicoll, losing by a 6-0 decision instead of getting pinned. Then, in the final match of the meet, ace 103-pounder Cam Sullivan was denied what looked like a sure pin in the second period and had to settle for a 15-0 technical fall that left the final score tied.

Also, Lowell's 215-pounder Robert Kolley fought hard to stay off his back, losing 6-0 to Matt Tardif, and what particularly irked some Owls, 112-pounder Matt Morris | in the first match of the meet | was penalized a point for questionable stalling with six seconds left in the third period, sending the match into overtime, where he lost 6-4. "My kids wrestled hard and I'm proud of them," said Chooljian. "If we can wrestle this well in a rough environment like this, we'll be all right."

Until what seemed like a disappointing ending, Timberlane had several potential unsung heroes, none more so than 135-pound sophomore Dylan Lockard. He had a surprising third-period pin that cut an early Lowell lead to 12-10.

In the next two matches, 140-pounder Dave Clemens saved points by keeping it close against returning New England placer Evan Connors, losing 5-0, and 145-pounder Jarad Smith eked out a tough 1-0 decision over physical Amadu Jallah.

Lowell won the next three matches to take a 27-13 lead before the Owls mounted their comeback, starting with a solid 4-0 decision at 189 by Max Zdrada.

"It's not the way you want to win, but we'll take it," said O'Keefe, who remains convinced his team won. "Our last two kids not getting pinned was huge | they had to just not get pinned, which they did. I thought they (Timberlane) did that a couple of times, too, so it can balance out.

"I knew it'd be close and we don't want to celebrate too much because it's not like we dominated. But we're happy to beat Timberlane in any way. They are still the benchmark program around."

In Timberlane's other matches in the quad-meet, the Owls blasted Connecticut teams Ledyard (49-6) and Berlin (54-22).

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