Nashua South wrestler Dube wouldn't give in
Timberlane of Plaistow dominated the NHIAA Division I wrestling championships at Concord, winning its 14th straight title, but Nashua South's Chris Dube never gave in to the Owls - bad shoulder and all.
The 220-pound junior, who suffered a shoulder injury two weeks before the meet, pinned Shawn Grenier of Timberlane at 3 minutes, 58 seconds. Dube wasn't the only Gate City wrestler to win a championship heading into Saturday's Meet of Champions at Pinkerton of Derry. Nashua South teammate Tyler Elwood (152 pounds) defeated Vinny Benincasa of Concord, 5-1. Overall, four grapplers from the Gate City captured Division titles, including Brandon Levesque (132 pounds) from Bishop Guertin of Nashua and Marcel Laplante (113 pounds) of Nashua North.
Weigh-ins begin at 8 a.m. at the Meet of Champions. Preliminary matches begin at 9 a.m.
No wrestler likes to be second best, but finishing No. 2 isn't so bad when it comes to the NHIAA Meet of Champions.
The Timberlane of Plaistow wrestling program has long been the state's bell cow. The Owls won their 14th consecutive Division I championship last weekend, and will be seeking their 10th consecutive state title Saturday.
Timberlane's stranglehold on wrestling supremacy in the state usually turns the Meet of Champions into a competition to see who's the best of the rest.
The chance a team will upset Timberlane on Saturday?
"Not going to happen," Pinkerton coach Dave Rhoads said. "I know my guys don't go into a tournament shooting for second, but the goal is always to do the best you can. If we don't finish first, second is the best place to be."
The top six wrestlers in each weight class from the Division I meet, the top five wrestlers in each class from the Division II meet, and the top three wrestlers from each class in the Division III meet qualified for the Meet of Champions.
The following wrestlers who prevailed at last year's Meet of Champions will be competing again Saturday: Timberlane's Adam Corey (120 pounds), Pinkerton's Jean-Luc Lemieux (126), Manchester Central's Kyle Peterson (132) , Timberlane's Josh Burnham (138), Timberlane's Harry Denoncourt (182) and Plymouth's Dakoda Simula (220).
Rhoads, who was named the Division I Coach of the Year at last weekend's Division I meet, may not be able to attend Saturday's meet. He is still recovering from surgery he had done on his neck earlier this month.
"I fully expect to be there, but I'll have to do a real sell job on my wife," Rhoads said. "I have really good assistants. I've talked to them on the phone a lot. They know exactly what I want."
Like Pinkerton, Manchester Central is a program that seems to be narrowing the gap between itself and Timberlane.
Central coach Jason Cumming said he likes competing against a juggernaut like Timberlane.
"It raises the bar for everybody," Cumming said. "Timberlane's B-team would beat most A-teams, but I've seen how much our program has improved - and how much other programs have improved - trying to get to where they are."
The top three wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the 49th annual New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championships, which will be held March 1-2 at the Providence Career and Technical Center in Providence, R.I.