By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Wrestlers Noah Wilcox and Wilson Ordonez started their high school wrestling careers together four years ago at Marlborough High School (MHS). They ended those high school careers earlier this year at the national wrestling championships in Virginia Beach.
“It’s pretty cool given that since freshman year, we’ve both been practice partners,” Wilcox said. “To do this senior year is pretty sweet.”
Having practiced together throughout high school, Wilcox and Ordonez dominated their regular season opponents before moving side by side through weeks of postseason tournaments. They racked up state championships before qualifying for both the New England, and, eventually national championship tournaments.
However proud of his wrestlers individual successes, though, coach Matt Knapp sees his team’s larger evolution reflected in the arc of Wilcox and Ordonez’ careers.
“Their growth and their time together has been indicative of my time on this team,” he said. [Wilcox and Ordonez have] got better every single year; I feel this team has got better every single year.”
Though he said Marlborough ranked fourth among Division II teams in the states after this year’s regular season, Knapp said Panther wrestling was not always so successful.
He said it ranked 44 when he started his current job just four years ago. Nevertheless, coming from his previous job coaching in urban settings, Knapp said he was hopeful upon seeing both the athletes in his program and the parents and school staff supporting them.
Looking back, he said he was confident he could help the team improve.
“I walked in that room and I saw the potential,” he said. “I don’t even know if it was a goal, I just knew it was going to happen.”
Central in that, Knapp said, was, indeed, the contributions of Wilcox and Ordonez.
Wilcox, he said, made a name for himself with his “funky” wrestling style that enabled him to surprise opponents and score points. Ordonez, meanwhile, Knapp said, found success behind his strength and speed.
The two, Knapp said, complimented each other nicely.
“They’ve really helped each other fill in those gaps that they didn’t have,” he said. “They also gave each other a lot of strength in the areas where they were already strong.”
With their 2017-2018 season now behind them, Wilcox and Ordonez are off to college where they both hope to continue their respective careers.
Back at Marlborough, though, Knapp hopes the pair’s contributions to the Panthers are not finished. This successful winter on the mats, Knapp, Wilcox and Ordonez agreed, helped broaden the appeal of the sport to the student body.
“Wrestling isn’t usually something that people talk about but once we started getting our names in newspapers, people started talking about it,” Ordonez said.
Knapp said he is confident in the group of wrestlers returning for next season. Still, he added, the energy his two senior stars injected into the sport over their four years ought to help the program long-term.
“There’s a buzz in the air about the team,” he said. “Kids want to come out for it.”