If ever there was a team that flew under the radar, it was this year’s Andover wrestling team.
The Golden Warriors’ 20-8 season this winter was remarkable.
The 20 wins was a school record, and those wins included victories over solid teams like Lawrence and Dracut and a best-ever six wrestlers advanced from the North sectional to the Division 1 state meet.
“I’m very happy with the way things went,” said fourth-year coach Mike Bolduc. “I was hoping for a pretty good season. Looking at how tough the MVC is, we were hoping to be at least .500 and wrestle everyone tough and I thought we did that. We scheduled some tougher teams — BC High, Duxbury, Winchester — and held our own.”
Andover had five wrestlers — Sean Ballou, Elias Maita, Ethan Coyle, Kelvin Davila and Noah Krueger — who won at least 30 matches. And, said Bolduc, “of our 14 starters, 11 were .500 or better.”
What’s more, Andover rarely forfeited a weight class and was almost always able to field a complete team, something many teams are unable to do.
Clearly, the Warriors have made significant progress in Bolduc’s four years. The numbers have gradually increased, the record has steadily improved from the 12-17-2 mark his first year, practices and meets are now held at the high school instead of miles away and there is just generally more buzz about the program.
Among Bolduc’s better moves, in addition to getting the program more involved at the high school, was hiring Ken Najem as an assistant, getting more consistency into training and starting a lifting program.
Things are definitely headed in the right direction as rival coaches predicted would happen when Bolduc took over. But more work needs to be done and this is no time to get complacent.
“Now that we’re doing better, expectations are higher so we have to work harder,” said Bolduc. “We still have things to do to get up to the top programs.”
Thanks to a booster club and a group of parents Bolduc is extremely pleased with, Andover is in the process of acquiring a second mat so that the team can host quad-meets. Wrestlers seem more inclined to train in the offseason and a lot of thought is going into ways to increase numbers in the youth program.
“We have a good group of fifth graders but not enough kids in sixth through eighth,” said Bolduc. “That’s something we need to work on. The (youth) experience is so important.
“We have some really good kids who didn’t start until they were freshmen and we’ll need more like them for awhile. We have to attract more athletes. We had pretty good support at our meets this year which will help and I tell the kids that if we do well and win, more will want to come out and join us.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction. We had a pretty good dual meet team this year but I want to have a good dual meet team and a good tournament team. Ultimately, I think we’ll get there.”
Following are the dual-meet records in the four years in which Mike Bolduc has been Andover High’s head coach.
2015-16 — 12-17-2
2016-17 — 8-16
2017-18 — 13-8
2018-19 — 20-8