By MICHAEL LETENDRE
NORTH ANDOVER, MA – The 51st Annual New England Interscholastic Wrestling high school Championships were held on Friday, March 6, and Saturday, March 7, from North Andover High School in North Andover, Massachusetts and a grappler from the Mum City was in the thick of things over the entire course of the ultra competitive event.
At 160 pounds, Bristol Central’s Josh Nelson did quite well, nabbing sixth place individually and netting Central 11 points overall – good for a 67th for the Rams at the tournament. Mount Anthony of Vermont won the New England Championship with 122.5 total points but had to hold off two challengers from Connecticut. Newtown took second place with 84 points while Fairfield Warde edged up third behind 69. But Nelson, who was 32-3 going into the state open meet, proved to be the class of the Bristol wrestling scene this past season.
Nelson, who placed fourth at the recent Connecticut State Open and earned a third place finish at the Class LL championship event, went 3-3 over his two days of action at the New England’s.
He lasted into the championship semifinal – going 3-0 to that point of the tournament and defeated some tough competition along the way. In the first championship preliminary bout, the crafty Nelson took on Lewis Stewart of Bishop Hendrick, Rhode Island and scored a pin-fall in 5:41. Nelson took that momentum into his second match, battling Jacob Woodside of Mt. Anthony, Vermont and the warrior from Bristol rode up a 3-2 decision.
In the championship quarterfinals, Nelson again was put to the test but he picked up a 4-3 victory over Brandon Weyant from Hampshire Regional of Massachusetts.
Nelson, now battling into the championship semifinals, squared off against Class L and Connecticut State Open champ Max Odell.
Odell, the best the state has to offer at 160 pounds, defeated Nelson as he fell by an 8-1 decision.
While the loss hurt, Nelson was still assured a top-6 finish and even off losing decisions to Fran Gesel of White Mountains, New Hampshire (9-1 major decision) and Jackson Howarth from Marshwood, Maine (6-2), the Bristol grappler finished even in tournament action at 3-3.
And the sixth place finish was a great way for the senior to end his scholastic career.