On the Ball: Prescient Men’s Hockey Quotes, State Wrestling on Tap
It’s almost always fun to hear what athletes have to say after games. Yes, results can vary, but more often than not they come up with some nuggets. On Tuesday, for example, Vergennes Union High School senior Connor Merrill was really funny when he admitted that he had been distracted by a sign some classmates held up counting down to his 1,000th point — that’s in today’s print edition. That sign didn’t prevent him from reaching that milestone, BTW, for those who missed the news.
I mention interviews because back in December I talked to Middlebury College men’s hockey assistant coach John Dawson and senior caption John Sullivan after the Panthers’ last game before their holiday break. It had been an up-and-down first semester, but both men were at heart truly optimistic that the young Panthers had the talent and grit to excel.
It took a while, but time proved them to be right. After an unfortunate weekend in New Hampshire, the Panthers finished the season by winning nine out of 10 games to earn the second seed in NESCAC; they will host No. 7 Tufts Saturday at 4 p.m. Their only loss in that stretch came to Norwich, 3-1, when a couple of their goals were called back, at least one unfairly.
What did Dawson and Sullivan say back in December? Here’s Dawson: “It really comes down to their consistency. It’s been a different team on different nights and in different periods. There’s a lot there to work with. I think we can be very good ... Coach Bill (Beaney) and I are both hoping we can click on it and that we’re playing at a pretty high level every night.”
And Sullivan: “It’s been a process to really get us into unison and get us going ... But we’re positive about this group. I think we have tremendous potential, and we’re really looking forward into getting into the second semester. And I think this team can do great things once we come together.”
True enough. As always, anything can happen in a one-and-out tourney (or two, if the Panthers win NESCAC and get the league’s automatic NCAA bid). But I wouldn’t bet against the guys in blue. Look for a full write-up, analysis, more comments and photos of their Saturday game in Monday’s paper.
On the high school level, Vergennes Union hosts the state championship wrestling tourney for the first time this Friday and Saturday, weather permitting. The newly lit VUHS gym seats 1,200 and should be a great venue.
And there are a couple of guys, both juniors I wouldn’t bet against: Otter Valley’s George Mitchell, the 2009 champ at 125, is the top seed at 130 with a 40-2 record, and Middlebury’s Bryan Ashley-Selleck is the top seed at 152 with a 37-1 record. Bryan hasn’t lost since December.
Other local top-four seeds are:
• OV’s Joey McCoy, #4 at 103.
• OV’s Seth Harrington, #3 at 112.
• Ricky Karzmarczyk of VUHS, #3 at 125.
• Jarrod Ashley of MUHS, #4 at 130 (his father and coach Jon Ashley said he’s gaining on Mitchell).
• Kody Murray of MUHS, #4 at 135.
• Simon Flynn of VUHS, #4 at 140.
• Kaden Odell of MUHS, #2 at 145.
• Alex Alger of OV, #4 at 145.
• Geoffrey Grant of VUHS, #2 at 171.
• OV’s Evan Bathalon, #3 at 215.
Good luck to all of them and the rest of the teams. We’ll report the results briefly on Monday, and have a detailed write-up and plenty of photos on Thursday, when we’ll have more room to do the wrestlers justice.
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