Valley Dispatch Photo by Kevin Jacobus
John Sughrue, top, tries to turn over St. John Prep’s Ryan Harding during this state Division 1 tourney match.
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METHUEN — What started out as a routine visit to the doctor’s office for a sore throat turned into disappointing news for John Sughrue, after he was diagnosed with mononucleosis and had to miss the New England Wrestling Championships for the second straight year.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said the 17-year-old Methuen High junior. “I went there so I could grab some medicine and be good for the New England’s, and they took a blood test and it showed up positive that I had mono.”

Although Sughrue tried to convince the doctors that he felt fine, they insisted he take a month off from competition. Last year he missed New England meet because of an injured knee.

“I’m not supposed to do anything for a month,” Sughrue said. “So I’ll have a month off and hopefully get back on the mat. Last year I had to wait a while (for my knee to heal) to get back on.” Sughrue did have success this season, winning his third straight state championship at 125 pounds — he’s already earned titles at 103 and 119 pounds — and his second All-State championship. His overall record for three seasons is 147-5.

Sughrue has wrestled in one New England tournament, his freshman year, where he placed third. His goals for the team and himself next season are the same — win at the New England’s.

Each season Sughrue has moved up in weight class.

As a freshman he wrestled at 103, then 119 as a sophomore and this season Sughrue finished 48-2 this season in the 125-pound weight class.

“You keep growing; these are your growing years,” Sughrue said of moving up. “It’s hard to stay at the same weight.”

Sughrue anticipates that he will probably be in the 130- or 135-pound weight class next season.

Of the two losses he had on the season, Sughrue said being beat by Chelmsford’s Aaron Mounsey in a dual meet was the toughest to take. Sughrue had the lead but was pinned by Mounsey with just 13 seconds left in the match.

“I was up 8-1 when that happened,” Sughrue said. “I was up 8-1 and then he caught me. Plus it was dual meet and we needed team points.”

The other loss was to a familiar foe, Trevor Deardon of Salem, N.H., who Sughrue only faces at the Methuen Invitational.

“He beat me this year in overtime,” Sughrue explained. “I beat him last year. The only time we wrestle is in the invitational and then New England’s.”

Sughrue didn’t get the chance to exact his revenge on either opponent.

Mounsey didn’t make weight for the state tournament and Sughrue couldn’t wrestle in New England’s, where Deardon took the 125-pound title.

Sughrue spends his offseason wrestling at three clubs: Lowell Raiders Club, Smitty’s Barn in Danville, N.H., and Dough Boys in Lowell. Ironically, Sughrue and Deardon practice together in Lowell.

“It’s always good to have a good partner like that. We’re always pushing each other,” Sughrue said. “So every time we wrestle it’s like the New England finals.”

Sughrue mentioned that he and Deardon, wrestling opponents since the fifth or sixth grade, have forged a friendship. “But when we get on the mat, it’s ‘I don’t know this kid.’ And there’s no way I want to lose to him. So when we’re on the mat we’re not friends. It’s respect. We’re both at the same level and we’re both pushing each other to be better.”

The Rangers finished this season with a 20-2 dual-meet record, with both losses to Massachusetts and New England team champion Lowell High. The second defeat was in the MIAA Division 1 North team tournament, with Sughrue on the sidelines.

“It was really hard (having to sit out),” Sughrue said. “Being on the team for the full season and then not being able to help them out when it really counted.”

Sughrue believes the team can beat Lowell if it stays focused.

“We have to have everyone wrestle in the offseason,” he said. “And we have to have everyone focused at the end (of the season). Some of the guys get tired, but we all have to stay focused.”

Have a story idea? Contact Gayle Simone at 978-970-4838 or by e-mail at gsimone@thevalleydispatch.com.