The following was sent to Patch by Amy Goldstein:
The NHS Wrestling Team traveled to Lowell's Tsongas Arena to compete in the George Bossi Holiday Tournament. The 67-team Tournament is widely regarded as the most competitive wrestling event in New England, featuring the top teams and wrestlers throughout the region.
The Rockets, without the services of a couple of big potential point-earners, finished 20th.
Two Needham Grapplers brought home medals: Senior Captain Mikhail Khibkin moved to 18-1 on the year, taking a third, and another Senior Captain, John Cronin took a hard-fought fifth.
After Khibkin's only loss which was in the quarter-finals to a top-ranked Natick Wrestler, Ethan Zeigler, he battled back knocking off a returning New England placer from New Hampshire, 14-3 along the way, to make it to the third place match, where met up with Zeigler again.
This time, Khibkin was quickly on the move and tallied a 7-1 lead before pinning his Bay State League rival in just under three minutes.
Cronin went 4-2 in the tournament with four pins. In the match for fifth place, he pinned a top New Hampshire wrestler in under two minutes.
Also winning multiple matches for the Rockets was Senior Captain Islam Baiev, who fell just short of placing. In the tournament, he scored a big win over a Lowell star, 5-4. He finished 3-2 on the weekend and moves to 10-3 overall. Senior Captain Mark Carroll moved to 13-3 on the season winning two matches on Friday.
Freshman Zach Goldman and brother, Junior Zach Goldman each won a big match for Needham, as did Senior Tak Hirayama and sophomores Will Burke and Travis Szetela.
Also turning out strong efforts were Freshman Gabe Shannon, Sophomore Dan Goldstein, Junior Ben Glickman and Seniors Aten Miles and Chris Ptak.
"All in all, we are pleased with the performance, " remarked Coach Paul Ahern, "It would have been nice to have everyone wrestling on Saturday, one or two guys get a couple more wins, we finish higher, maybe top ten or so."
The Rockets head back to Bay State League Competition when they meet up with Weymouth on Thursday and on Saturday look to repeat as Belmont Invitational Champions.