Chris Murphy wasn’t around for the near misses.
Instead, he was front and center for the exclamation point that signified the Greens Farms Academy wrestling team is the best team in New England.
Murphy’s pin in the heavyweight division—coming just 49 seconds into his championship match—gave the Dragons their first-ever overall New England championship on Saturday at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.
GFA amassed a whopping 348.5 points to easily outdistance Northfield Mount Hermon (282.5) and Belmont Hill (272).
“That was a pretty good guy I pinned out there,” Murphy said, “but we had a lot long string of champs coming in to my match. It was a lot of fun this tournament and it was historic for GFA wrestling.”
The Dragons produced 10 New England finalists, eight of which won New England championships in their weight classes.
Two other wrestlers finished second and all 14 Dragons placed fifth or higher in the championships.
“I thought we would be exactly where we were,” GFA coach Jack Conroy ’06 said. “It was pretty much the tournament I thought was going to happen. We won a couple of matches I thought would be toss ups and we lost a couple I thought would be toss ups, but I was confident this is how we’d perform.”
The Dragons had won three straight New England Small School championships, but Conroy and Co. had their eyes on a bigger prize this year.
Harry Kittredge (113 pounds) and Brady Kaupp (120) opened the finals by both placing second.
At 126 pounds, third-seeded JT Schneider—who pinned his first three opponents without giving up a single point—won his New England title with a pin at 3:43.
That started a run of GFA title as Ben Zuckerman (132), Joey Iamunno (138), and Ronnie Christolin (144) strung together four straight championship performances to put the Dragons in great position to seize the championship.
Xavier Giles (165) took the top spot in his weight class and the Dragons closed out the tournament with three straight titles courtesy of Nate Taylor (190), Steven Burrell (215) and Murphy’s pin.
Also, at 138, Joseph Stoerzinger placed fourth for the Dragons. He has lost to Iamunno in the semifinals as Dragon faced Dragon for a spot in the championship round.
Tyler Shea (150) placed third, Zahir McLean-Felix (175) took fourth, and Ryan Schneider (157) placed fifth for the Dragons.
While Conroy was happy to get that New England overall championship, he also has even bigger goals for his program moving forward.
“As terrible as this sounds, it’s just a step in the right direction,” he said. “Ultimately, our goal is to win national preps. We set a team goal to finish top five this year and we’re using this meet as a qualifying event that we’ve been tuning up for all year. We’re excited to win and wrestle well, but we’re already focused on next week.”
The Dragons also had two girls competing.
April Torres (165) won her second straight New England championship, winning her best-of-three series against her opponent by a 2-0 score.
And, at 114 pounds, Izzy Kittredge won her first two matches of the tournament would place fifth.
Overall, Conroy gave a lot of credit to the coaching staff he has assembled in the room with helping the Dragons succeed.
“It just speaks to the growth of our staff; we’ve got a college-level coaching staff and they’ve really helped grow the program,” Conroy said. “Having those guys in the room on a daily basis allow us to focus on the little things that make a difference in tournaments like this.”
Next week, the Dragons head to Upper Marlboro, Maryland, to the Show Place Arena, for the 2023 National Prep tournament.