St. John's Eagles Wrestling '07-'08

Former Prep wrestlers help lead Williams College

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Friday, February, 01 By Jean DePlacido

St. John's Prep has long been known as the dominant wrestling team on the North Shore and one of the premier programs in all of Massachusetts.

Williams College is reaping the benefits of the Eagles' success this season.

The Ephs, who are ranked in the top 20 nationally in Division 3 wrestling, have three former Prep standouts on their roster. Heading the list is junior Kyle Ayer of Topsfield, who is currently ranked No. 2 in New England after being ranked No. 1 in the 197-pound weight class for most of the season.

Senior Doug Washington, who now lives in Trenton, Ala., is ranked fourth in New England in the 165-pound class. Also, freshman heavyweight Tim Kiely, fresh off an impressive performance for the Ephs' football team, started off very strong before being sidelined the last few weeks with a high ankle sprain | the same problem that was bothering Patriot quarterback Tom Brady.

Ayer got off to a great start at Williams, finishing fourth in his weight class in New England two years ago. At St. John's Prep, where he wrestled at 189, he was a two-time state champion and placed third in New England his senior year.

"We lost a close match to the No. 1 team (in New England), Johnson & Wales, but we're very positive about how the team is going this year and feel we have a good chance to win the New Englands," said Ayer.

Johnson & Wales is the top team in New England, followed by Rhode Island College, and Williams.

The goal for Ayer coming into the season was to win New Englands, since only the top ranked wrestler in the conference from each weight class gets to go to Nationals (along with four wild cards that the coaches pick).

"My ultimate goal is to finish in the top eight in the country, which is All-American status," Ayer said."I have a whole month before New Englands (Feb. 23-24) to focus on correcting any mistakes I'm making. I want to be in the best shape possible and will work hard to make sure I am."

Ayer hurt his knee the summer after his freshman year and needed surgery. He was still trying to come back from the injury most of last season, but continued to work on sharpening his skills.

"I work on wrestling year-round and go to the Doughboy Wrestling Club in Lowell, where there are some real good coaches," said Ayer. "It took a long time to get back to where I had been before the surgery, but that is all behind me now."

Ayer (17-3) had been ranked No. 1 in New England before losing to the 10th-ranked wrestler nationally, Diego Crespo of Johnson & Wales, recently, 6-3. Another loss came to a wrestler from Merchant Marine Academy who is ranked eighth nationally.

He hasn't yet achieved that coveted national ranking, but is on the Honorable Mention list as a contender.

"Every chance we get to wrestle nationally ranked kids, it helps our chances to be picked for Nationals," said Ayer. "Washington is currently ranked fourth in New England, and Kiely started off real strong by placing fifth at Rochester before being injured. Tim has handled the transition from football to wrestling and worked real hard to get in shape, since you have to use a whole different set of muscles. We all believe he can place at the New Englands."

Kiely made an immediate impact on the football team at defensive end, and earned a spot in the Williams wrestling lineup in the heavyweight class.

He is a big guy at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds | but on the small side in his weight class, which goes from 197 to 285 pounds. He often gives up as much as 60 pounds to an opponent. "It presents a challenge, but I deal with it," said the Newburyport resident.

After tearing his ACL during football as a senior at St. John's Prep, forcing him to wear a brace, Kiely wanted to simply survive and lock down a starting spot as a Williams freshman wrestler.

"I didn't have to drop any pounds for this weight class, and I knew I wouldn't have a chance in the class below me with Kyle there," he said. "I turned some heads at the Rochester Tournament, because it was my first collegiate wrestling event.

"I'm giving up so much weight that it's a strain on my body at times, though. A big kid fell on me awkwardly, which messed up my knee and ankle. That's how I got hurt."

Kiely hit the wrestling room on Sundays during football season to stretch his muscles out and get in shape for the mats | although there was only so much he could do while playing another sport.

"There are four kids from the football team out for wrestling, and we got a couple weeks' grace period to ease in," said Kiely. "Still, it was hard because everybody else was in top wrestling shape.

"Things should get easier for me the next couple of years, because I want to gain weight for football and should be able to put 10 more pounds on each year. I'm faster than most of the bigger kids, which really helps | and I'm as strong as them, too."

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