NHIAA Div. I Wrestling Championship: Londonderry's Lemieux in a special class
CONCORD - Many of the state's top wrestlers gathered for the Division I meet at Concord High School on Saturday. Of those in attendance, perhaps no one has a better resume than Londonderry's Jean-Luc Lemieux.
Lemieux, a junior, won his third consecutive Division I title by beating Timberlane Regional of Plaistow's Derek Bohle, 8-2, in the championship match at 132 pounds.
"There are a handful of New Hampshire wrestlers who have separated themselves from the rest of the entries in all three divisions, and he's one of them," Timberlane coach Barry Chooljian said. "So I would certainly put him in the top five or six kids in the state of New Hampshire in all weights.
"He's only a junior, but he brings a lot of experience to the mat."
Lemieux didn't have the chance to celebrate a team title Saturday, however, as Timberlane won the Division I championship for the 15th consecutive year. The top six wrestlers in each weight class advanced to Saturday's Meet of Champions at Pinkerton Academy in Derry.
Lemieux won the Meet of Champions at 106 pounds as a freshman, and at 126 pounds as a sophomore.
He spent his freshman and sophomore years at Pinkerton, but transferred to rival Londonderry last summer.
Lemieux has been wrestling since age 3, when he joined a program at the Manchester YMCA. He had a first-round bye Saturday, and then won three matches to claim the 132-pound title. His victory over Bohle raised his record to 38-0 this season.
"I was always fairly athletic," Lemieux explained. "I played baseball, football and lacrosse when I was younger. This is definitely the sport I like the most, and it's probably the one I'm best in too. This is the one I stuck with.
"I guess I just like the contact - the physical hitting. In wrestling you're always in the action. It's a nice feeling to have to always be on your toes and always thinking about what to do next."
Londonderry coach Jim Marron said Lemieux is exceptional at sizing up the other wrestler on the mat, and identifying his opponent's strengths and weaknesses.
"What he does well is measure up his opponent's ability, and he does it quickly," Marron said. "It's rare for him to have first-period finish in his match, and the reason for that is he's measuring everything out as he goes along. He's putting it all in his pocket like a good chess player would. The takedown is done in steps instead of rapidly.
"It's a fantastic addition to the program, nobody would deny that. He's had a positive effect on the program."
The top-three finishers in each weight class at Saturday's Meet of Champions will advance to the 50th Annual New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championships in Providence, R.I. Lemieux finished fourth at the New England meet as a freshman, and qualified but did not compete last year.
Chooljian said Lemieux is capable of prevailing in his weight class at the New England meet, assuming he performs well enough at his former school to advance.
"He's one of the best kids in New England at 132 pounds," Marron said. "There's no doubt about it."