Dracut’s Jon Ryan (right) won the 126-pound title with a victory over Catholic Memorial’s Mark Gutierrez.	SUN/ASHLEY GREENSun staff photos can
Dracut's Jon Ryan (right) won the 126-pound title with a victory over Catholic Memorial's Mark Gutierrez. SUN/ASHLEY GREEN

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our Smugmug site.

LOWELL -- Nothing tests a wrestler's will to win more than the two-day grind that is the George Bossi Lowell Holiday Wrestling Tournament.

The early-season proving ground featured 72 high schools and nearly 800 wrestlers, each of whom was looking to make a statement on the mat.

In a sport where actions speak much louder than words, Jon Ryan of Dracut turned in a performance that spoke volumes about his ability.

Ryan made it to the top of the victory stand by outlasting Mark Gutierrez of Catholic Memorial, 7-5, in an overtime tiebreaker in the 126-pound championship match of the Bossi/Lowell Holiday Tournament at the Tsongas Center on Monday.

Dracut’s Jon Ryan (left) prepares to square off against Catholic Memorial’s Mark Gutierrez for the 126-pound title. SUN/ASHLEY GREENSun staff
Dracut's Jon Ryan (left) prepares to square off against Catholic Memorial's Mark Gutierrez for the 126-pound title. SUN/ASHLEY GREEN

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our Smugmug site.

The score was tied, 5-5, at the end of regulation. After a one-minute sudden victory OT period, during which neither wrestler scored. Ryan earned the title by outscoring Gutierrez during a pair of 30-second tiebreaker periods.

Ryan, a junior, is a two-time Bossi/Lowell Holiday champion, having won the 106-pound crown as a freshman. He placed fifth at 120 last December so finishing on top again this year was extremely satisfying.

"It feels good to be back on top," said Ryan, who is 14-0 this season. "Last year I fell short. Not winning gave me a lot of incentive to do well.

"This tourney means a lot to me. I grew up sitting in the stands watching the Holiday Tournament when it was held at Lowell High. Coming here and winning is an amazing feeling. This is a good start to my season, but I still have a lot of things I need to work on. This tourney was a good gauge of that."

Ryan and Gutierrez have wrestled against each other since grade school. In the off-season they are often drill partners at the Doughboy Wrestling Club in Lowell.

"We've wrestled each other at least a dozen times over the years," said Ryan. "He's my drill partner in the room during the off-season at Doughboy.

Billerica’s Nick DeRosa (right) battles Mt. Anthony’s Troy Gassaway for the 120-pound title.	SUN/ASHLEY GREENSun staff photos can be ordered by
Billerica's Nick DeRosa (right) battles Mt. Anthony's Troy Gassaway for the 120-pound title. SUN/ASHLEY GREEN

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our Smugmug site.
We get along good.

"By now we know each other's moves. We like to get out there and bang heads. We're both competitive. But we're both good at keeping it on the mat."

At this point in his varsity career, Ryan is used to the pressure that comes with wrestling for a major title. He is a two-time Division 2 State champion. He won an All-State title as a freshman, and finished second at All-States last season. Ryan placed third at New Englands last winter.

So Ryan didn't panic when he found himself trailing Guiterrez in the third period. He rallied to even the score and force overtime.

"That was a good one for Jon," said Dracut coach Mike Riley. "He's been going back and forth with that guy I believe since they were little. It was a fun match to watch, but not that much fun to coach. We don't like overtime, but we'll take the win for sure.

"This was a perfect opportunity for Jon to see where he's at. I liked what I saw from him. He had to come back for this win. He just never let up. That's what he does, he just plugs away. He never loses his composure."

Ryan has an overall varsity record of 129-21.

"He likes to challenge himself and he keeps getting better each year," said Riley. "He puts in the time to make himself better in the off-season. He's been in these situations in big matches before. That's why he never panics, and it's why he usually finishes on top."

In the 120 final, Troy Gassaway of Mt. Anthony (Vermont) pinned Billerica's Nick DeRosa in 3:18. The loss was DeRosa's first of the season, and leaves his record at 14-1. DeRosa is a two-time Division 1 State champion and the defending 120 All-State champion.

"Nick will learn from this match," said Billerica coach Bob Belanger. "He'll take a lot from this and be ready to go next time. He'll continue to plug away. He'll hurt a little tonight. But I guarantee he'll be right back at it tomorrow morning and continue doing what he's been doing."

At 106, Tyngsboro's Kevin Morris placed third and Shawsheen Tech's Jake Ferri was sixth. Jack Kiely of Central Catholic finished seventh at 120. At 132, Brandon Desfosses of Central Catholic was sixth. Bishop Guertin's Brandon Levesque (fourth) and Tyngsboro's Scott Camacho (sixth) placed at 138.

Chelmsford's Davey Goodall was seventh at 145. James Clasen of Chelmsford was fifth at 152, while Patrick Sands of Bishop Guertin placed fifth at 160. At 170, Shawsheen Tech's Nick Hoar finished fifth.

Jaycee Hebert of Dracut came in seventh at 182, while Tom Cove of Chelmsford was eighth at 195. Tewksbury's Nick Jansen (sixth) and Central Catholic's Morgan Bronson (eighth) placed at 220. Dillon Higgins of Billerica was seventh at 285.

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