Bishop Hendricken’s dominant regular season remained just that on Thursday night in Cumberland, even against a team that had been dominant in its own right.
The Hawks made quick work of undefeated Cumberland in the season finale, taking care of business where they were favored and winning several toss-up matches to finish off their second consecutive 15-0 season with a 48-12 victory.
“Cumberland is tough program and always a class act,” said Hendricken head coach Kevin Hennessey. “I came in here and I had confidence to win, but I didn’t expect to win like that. We had some huge matches tonight. It’s good for the sport and I’m glad we came out on top.”
The lopsided score was surprising given the opponent, but far from unusual for this Hendricken team. In league meets, the defending state champion Hawks never scored fewer than 48 points and never allowed more than 19. Their average score was 65-9.
“We try to preach it all the time – score as much as possible, not give anything away,” Hennessey said. “The kids wrestled really well. I’m proud of them.”
The match with Cumberland was originally scheduled for last Tuesday, with the Hawks then closing the season against La Salle on Wednesday. When the Cumberland match was pushed to Thursday due to snow, the Hawks didn’t mind one bit.
They wanted to finish with a bang.
“We wanted to finish it out with Cumberland,” said senior captain Hunter Boesch. “When we finally got here, everybody was amped up. It’s just a totally different feeling when it’s Hendricken and Cumberland.”
The capacity crowd bought into the marquee match-up, too, but as soon as wrestling started, the Hawks took the drama right out.
Hendricken won the first six matches of the night, taking four by pin and getting a huge victory from Jason Davol over state finalist Cody Beaudette at 120.
Hendricken led 31-0, and the match was never in doubt from there. The Hawks picked up two more pins, one victory by decision plus an important win by James Sauro at 170. Cumberland won four matches but all were by decision.
“We got beat up,” said Cumberland head coach Steve Gordon. “It happens sometimes. We’ve beaten them up and they’ve beaten us up two years in a row now. They’re a very tough team.”
Pierre Louis-Arcand started the night with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Dylan Herrera at 220.
Then the Hawks really got it rolling.
Dallas Sauer pinned Matt Reilly in the first period at 285 and Jon Celico turned a back-and-forth match at 106 into a third-period pin. Nick Celico needed just 25 seconds to pin Harry Travers at 113, giving the Hawks a 21-0 cushion.
At 120, the Clippers figured they’d have a shot to stem the tide. Their top wrestler, Beaudette, matched up with Davol, Hendricken’s only returning state champion. Beaudette scored the first takedown, but Davol got an escape point then stayed on top of Beaudette throughout the second period to keep the score 2-1. In the third, Davol reversed Beaudette and took him to his back for near-fall points, going up 6-2. Beaudette came up with a reversal but Davol answered with another and once again picked up near-fall points. At the final whistle, he celebrated an 11-4 victory.
“That was huge,” Hennessey said. “Jay went out there and wrestled tough and stayed smart. It was awesome. Good for Jay. He worked hard and deserved that win.”
Jamie Swanson kept the Hawks riding high with a pin of Noah Tougas. Like Jon Celico, Swanson delivered his pin in the third period of a match he was already winning, a sign of just how hard the Hawks were pushing.
“They don’t give up,” Hennessey said. “They wrestled hard. We push the kids every day and they push themselves.”
Cumberland got on the board with a 10-3 victory by Kris Nordby over Matt Jacobson at 132 and a 3-0 win by Kyle Durgin over Jon Arruda at 138.
Still, the Hawks were in complete control and they added to their lead with a 7-0 win by Anthony DiMauro over Steve Masse at 145.
At 152, Hendricken’s Steve Johnson battled Nick Tribelli, rallying from a six-point deficit before losing 11-9. That score actually clinched the match for the Hawks, since Cumberland could no longer catch them even if it finished with pins in the rest of the matches.
Although, the Hawks wouldn’t have let that happen anyway. Lewis Stewart pinned Nate Skaminsky in 58 seconds at 160 before Sauro came away with an impressive 3-1 victory over Hayes, one of the Clippers’ top wrestlers.
“Hayes is unbelievable,” Hennessey said. “He’s been wrestling really tough. Sauro stuck to his game plan, executed and embraced it. He came out on top.”
Boesch gave the Hawks their final victory with a first-period pin of Dylan Faria at 182. Nick Giorgio gave Cumberland its final points with a 5-4 win over Nick Martino at 195.
“When it got rolling the way it did, we just picked up the momentum,” Boesch said. “That’s a big thing in this sport. Once you get the momentum, it’s tough to stop. We got a bunch of big pins, built a lead and we just kept rolling.”
The last time the Hawks wrestled a dual-meet at Cumberland, they lost by a point in the 2012 season finale, in disheartening fashion. Cumberland went on to win the state title, and Hendricken had to wait another year.
That loss felt like a long time ago Thursday night – it remains Hendricken’s last dual-meet loss.
“We lost by one last time we were here,” Hennessey said. “It was torture. It felt great to come in here tonight and get a nice win.”
The Hawks will now turn their attention to this weekend’s state tournament, and they’ll head into it riding the same wave as last year, when they beat Cumberland in the season finale.
“That was one of our first goals coming into the year – go undefeated through the dual meet season,” Davol said. “This is a good transition into states.”