ConVal wrestlers head to Division II meet on Saturday

  • The ConVal wrestling team hosted its only meet of the season against Goffstown on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal wrestling team hosted its only meet of the season against Goffstown on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • conval, wrestling, division ll meet

All season long, the ConVal wrestling team has been competing on the road.

The renovations to the school’s gymnasium forced the Cougars to travel for 14 of their 15 tournaments and meets, only wrestling once at South Meadow School in a dual meet with Goffstown on Jan. 30.

On two occasions, the Cougars made the short trip to Hollis/Brookline — once for a tournament and another time for a dual meet.

And they will make it a third bus ride to the home of the defending champion Cavaliers on Saturday for the Division II Championships. While the Cougars don’t have the kind of experience that led to the first state title in school history in the 2009-10 season, they will look for a repeat performance from last year. ConVal was sixth overall and just 10 points out of fifth — a position coach Brian Whittemore could see his team moving up to if everything goes well.

“That would be realistic,” said Whittemore. “We should be in the middle somewhere.”

ConVal had just one D-II champion last year and while senior DJ Colburn did not wrestle for much of the season, Whittemore still expects him to do quite well.

Colburn, who enters the weekend ranked No. 2 at 113 pounds, began the season on the team, but took some time off. He returned for the Franklin Tournament on Feb. 2 and cruised to a win. Overall, Colburn, who was ranked first last year in the weight class, is 5-0 with two forfeits.

“He has stayed in good shape,” said Whittemore. “And with DJ back, it could add another 20 to 25 points to our score.”

Junior Adam Smullen took third in the 160-pound weight class last year, battling back from a loss in the semifinals to win the consolation finals. Smullen will be the top seed in the weight class on Saturday and Whittemore sees him with a good chance of making the finals. Smullen was 24-5 in New Hampshire this season and none of his five losses came against Division II opponents.

“If he wrestles up to his game, he’ll go right through,” said Whittemore. “He could have trouble in the finals, but I don’t think anybody will test him before that.”

Senior Jesse Mitchell took fourth at 145 pounds last year, but dropped down to his more natural position at 138 for this year. Mitchell is ranked second in the weight class, sitting behind defending champion Peter Shea of Goffstown, who defeated the ConVal captain in their only meeting on Jan. 30 by a score of 7-2. Mitchell was 14-5 in the state.

“He’ll do fine I think,” said Whittemore of Mitchell. “He should be in the finals.”

Colburn, Smullen and Mitchell are the only three remaining wrestlers from the seven ConVal sent to Meet of Champions a year ago.

Freshman Josh Curran is the only other ConVal wrestler to be seeded in the top four. Curran is ranked fourth at 145 pounds, only losing to the No. 3 wrestler by a few points, and will take his 15-10 in-state record into Saturday looking to qualify for the state meet.

“That’s pretty good for a freshman,” said Whittemore.

The top five wrestlers in each weight class will advance to Meet of Champions, along with the top six from Division I and top three from D-III.

“We could sneak a few guys into fifth place,” said Whittemore.

The Cougars enter Saturday’s D-II meet with all 14 weight classes filled. And while the experience is not necessarily there, Whittemore expects some points outside of his four seeded wrestlers. Junior Mike Allen could do well at 132 if he wrestles up to his potential, something Whittemore has been waiting to see all season. Junior Jordan Loll should advance in the early stages of 195 pounds and first-year wrestler Brandon Davis could surprise a few opponents at 170.

The Division II meet will begin at 9 a.m. Meet of Champions will be held Fed. 23 at Pinkerton Academy. The top three from Meet of Champions will advance to the New England Championships.

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