Salem wrestling head coach Todd Oljey and his assistants Phil Kalil and Joey Boucher decided to name senior 171-pounder, Steve Comtois, as the captain of this team after they wrestled in the huge Lowell Holiday Tournament, and boy are they glad they made the right choice! Comtois made believers of all Blue Devils fans last Saturday morning in Haverhill where Salem led 31-30 going into the last match of the meet, and Comtois was facing a legitimate 189-pounder in the Hillies Mike Brigandi in his 189-pound match. Brigandi got off to a quick start and led Comtois 5-0 heading into the second round. Comtois had to make a comeback so he and his coaches thought that they would try to tire out Brigandi in hopes of coming back in the second and third rounds, but Comtois got Brigandi in a crotch-lift towards the end of the period, then picked him up almost over his head and then threw him down and turned him over on his back for the six point pin that gave the Blue Devils the amazing 37-30 victory. The Blue Devils also had to wrestle Mass powerhouse Burlington and they lost that match 64-12 to the Red Devils, but coach Todd Oljey was very happy with the way his young Salem team wrestled. Oljey noted, “Our younger kids are all stepping up now and that’s when we wanted to be peaking at the end of the regular season. Freshmen Ryan Bolduc went 2-0 on the day at 103-pounds, and Zach Hicks was 2-0 with a forfeit win at 112-pounds, and we just kind of pulled together for each other. We’re very happy with the way our kids wrestled, and we’ve see the North Andover’s and the Franklin’s, so they know what wrestling against the Mass heavies are like.”
Earlier in the week, the Blue Devils wrestled up in Londonderry against the Lancers and they were able to come away with a big 46-15 win that currently had the Blue Devils dual meet record at 7-8 going into this weeks action. Ryan Bolduc only needed 40 seconds to pin his Lancer opponent, and Zach Hicks followed that up with a nifty 11-10 win in the 112-pound match. Sophomore Devin Deardon took care of business at 119-pounds when he registered a pin just 45 seconds into the second period, and Cam Yergeau gave Salem another pin at 130 pounds a little while later. Brett Pittera pinned his foe with just 16 seconds left in their 135-pound bout, and Jason Herrick registered a 14o-pound pin midway through the second period. Salem’s 160-pounder, Richie Cronin came up with a hard fought 5-3 decision and Comtois closed things out at 171-pounds with a pin in 1:39.
Todd Oljey has used about 4=30 kids for his 14 starting spots this year and the kids have shown rapid improvement with every chance they get to jump on the mat. That’s what is going to bring back top-notch high school wrestling to this area in the very near future.
Mike Marshall had a nice trip up north to Hanover last Sunday night, but he didn’t have to do any skiing. The senior speedster who also has springs in his feet took two first place finishes at the Class L Meet that was held at Leverone Field House at Dartmouth College, and he also collected a second place medal. The Blue Devils were giving Nashua South and Londonderry a run for their money in the standings before South took first place with 57 points, the Lancers finished in second with 48 points, and Salem took the third spot by accumulating 46 points. Mike Marshall took off in the 55-meter hurdles and won in a rocket-like time of 7.74 seconds. He triumphed in the long jump when he vaulted 21’ 3” for his second win. Marshall had done 6’ 6” earlier in the year in the high jump, but on this day Keith Lewis of Nashua North was able to clear the bar at 6’ 4” and Marshall had to settle for second place when he cleared 6’ 2”. Mike Marshall wasn’t done for the day just yet because he would later join forces with Ross Davies, Max Jacques, and freshman Jerickson Federick to run the 4 X 200-meter relay and they’d win this race in 1:35.58 for some more big Blue Devil points. The Salem boys closed out their scoring in the 55-meter dash when Max Jacques took third place in 6.67 seconds and Federickson grabbed the fifth position in 6.77 seconds.
Salem had two girls come up with brilliant efforts too, as senior Robyn Ciriello took on all comers and ran away with first place in the shot put with a heave of 35’ 7 1/2” and sophomore Melissa Higgins finished third in the 300-meter run with she stopped the clock in 41.39 seconds. Congratulations are certainly in order for coaches Ben Adams, Craig Robinson, and Todd Seastedt for leading the Blue Devils boys and girls track teams to another terrific showing.
Last Tuesday night coach Karen Bonney brought her 7-5 Alvirne girls to town for a big game, and coach Liz Briggs would have one of her starters sick, and Olivia Connors was spending extra time in the trainer’s room before the game getting her ankle taped up in hopes of playing some significant minutes. The Broncos sophomore guard D. J. Purcell scored Alvirne’s first six points of the game, and Salem came back to tie it at 6-6 on two Peters’ free throws, a Galvin field goal, and two free throws by Kelsi Record and Olivia Connors. Ashley Metivier hit a basket and a three-pointer in the last minute and a half of the first period to give Alvirne an 11-6 first quarter lead. Metivier and Cassie LaRocque second quarter buckets gave Alvirne a 15-6 lead, before Kelsi record drove for a three-point play. Purcell had two more hoops in the quarter, and Metivier had another one for the Broncos, who held a 21-13 halftime lead. Amanda Vaudreuil and Olivia Conners had Salem’s two other first half hoops. The Salem girls went to the locker room at halftime much like they did the week before against Bishop Guertin when they were down 29-20, and coach Briggs let them know what they needed to improve on to come back in the game. The Blue Devils came out buckling down on defense and were able to outscore the Broncos 19-6 in the third quarter to take a 32-27 lead into the last quarter. Amanda Vaudreuil exploded for eight points in the second half, Nora Galvin got it going with seven points from the perimeter, Kelsi Record went inside for six points, and sophomore center Jen Bujnowski had five crucial points inside and grabbed some big rebounds. The Salem girls were able to take this 47-42 win over the Broncos that upped their record to 6-7, and they can get to the .500 mark Friday night in Manchester if they can knock off the West Blue Knights.
The Salem Blue Devil girls played up at Goffstown last Friday night, where they seemed to match the Grizzlies for about 26 of the 32 minutes in the game. Salem was playing their usual tough defensive game, but their shooting on the night was off, except for Nora Galvin, and they fell behind 8-6 in the first quarter and still only trailed 18-16 by intermission. Coach Liz Briggs was hoping that her young team could come out on fire like they did in their upset of 9-2 Merrimack and their second half comeback win over Bishop Guertin when they were down 29-20 at half time. Unfortunately, the Salem girls hit a cold spell and the Goffstown girls were able to outscore them 12-4 in the third period to give them a 30-20 lead heading into the final eight minutes. Caitlin Peters hit two three-pointers and Olivia Connors had six points, but the only girl who could hit for Salem on this night was junior guard Nora Galvin who hit for 15 points in the game. The Blue Devil’s Class L record dropped to 5-7, but they would be ready Tuesday for a big contest against the 7-5 Alvirne Broncos at Davis Gymnasium in Salem.
I’m beginning to think that the Salem Blue Devils hockey team is starting to come together and carry out the game plan that coach Mark McGinn has laid out for the kids this season. Salem took a 6-5 record over to the Conway Rink in Nashua Saturday afternoon and got three quick goals from senior forward Joel Vastl in less than five minutes and the Blue Devils had a quick 3-0 lead with 10 minutes still remaining in the first period. Vastl also picked up an assist on Mark Baroni’s goal that made it 4-0 in Salem’s favor after one period. Vastl only saw limited time for the second period, as junior defenseman, Kenny Frazier would pick up his first goal of the year, and John Pettoruto and Mike Frahm would add second period goals that gave the Blue Devils an 7-1 lead heading into the third period. The only downside to this game for Salem was that Nashua South was able to break up Robbie Liberatore’s shutout when they scored a power play on a 5 on 3 situation midway through the second stanza, when Salem had two players in the penalty box. Liberatore had 15 saves in his work between the pipes, before Chad Livingston came in off the bench and did a nice job stopping all six shots that the Panthers fired on him. Shane Delandy closed out the scoring for Salem with a third period goal, and Mark Baroni added three assists, and John Pettoruto added a pair of assists. That win gives Salem a 7-5 record in Division 1 heading into the last six games of the regular season.
Wednesday night was a big game for coach McGinn’s Blue Devils’ as they had to host Trinity who came to the Icenter with a 5-3-1 record. Salem was behind the Pioneers with a 5-5 record, and after a scoreless first period, Trinity drew first blood with a quick goal in the second period, but John Pettoruto quickly tied the score at 1-1 with a goal coming off a great feed from Mark Baroni. The Pioneers got back in front 2-1 three minutes later, but Baroni ties it at 2-2 with a nice assist from Joel Vastl as the two teams entered the third period knotted up at 2-2. The Blue Devils fell behind for the third time in this game just 10 seconds into the last period, when Trinity fired a shot on the Salem net that Liberatore stopped, but it fell between his legs and while turning around to look for the puck, his pads knocked it into the Salem net for a 3-2 Trinity lead. With 8:42 left in regulation, Mike Frahm set up Timmy Kingdon, who wristed one over the goalies shoulder to make it a 3-3 game, and it eventually went into overtime.
Liberatore made several more outstanding saves, and Salem did have a few early scoring chances, but with two minutes left in overtime, Cory Lavallee was clearing the puck of the Salem end and he spotted Mike Rocheleau who was flying at center ice. Rocheleau gathered the puck on his stick and weaved his way through two Trinity defenseman and looked down to see if he still had the puck on his stick, then went in on the Pioneer goalie and fired a wrist shot into the back of the net for the game winner that gave the Blue Devils a huge 4-3 overtime win over the Pioneers. Coach McGinn said after the game, “That really makes me feel good, to see how hard a kid like Mike Rocheleau work so hard with little fanfare, and then get the chance for the game winner and he cashed in on it. I love to see hard working kids get rewarded and Mike certainly deserved it. We can take care of business ourselves in the last six regular season games before the playoffs start. We control our own destiny and I think our kids are finally realizing that we’ve lost four games by one goal, and the other loss was to unbeaten Bishop Guertin last week, that saw us give up three power play goals and an open net goal out of the five they scored. We have a chance to cut our penalty minutes down 200 minutes over last year, and I think that’s very important to us. Kids like Joel Vastl, Aaron Mackey, John Pettoruto, Mike Rocheleau, Mike Fram, and Timmy Kingdon has been doing nice jobs on the offensive side, and guys like Mark Baroni, Nick Barreira, Cory Lavallee and Kenny Frazier have been doing the job on defense. Rob Liberatore has been keeping us in all these games, and if we stay out of the penalty box, we can compete with anybody in Division 1 and I think our kids are finally realizing that. The next thing on our agenda is for us to come out to Manchester Central on Friday afternoon at the Icenter as they just knocked off Exeter 4-3 Saturday night. This is the time in mid February where the teams with the best work ethic get rewarded and I’d like to think that we are getting there.”
The upstairs gym at Salem High School was alive and kicking last Monday night as the Blue Devil girls gymnastic team hosted five other teams and came away with five wins thanks to a season best high of 137.85 points. It was also senior night for four Salem girls in their last home high school meet, but Salem co-captain Leeann Vadala used the evening to accomplish a whole lot more. Anyone who is close to the Salem winter sports scene certainly knows that Vadala is on a serious mission to give coach Ginnie Lavallo her third state title in a row, but Vadala is also hoping that Saturday the 21st, when Salem High School hosts the State meet, she will be climbing up over the magic 36 point mark in the All-Around and looking to pull off a great feat in her last meet. Pinkerton, Nashua South, Nashua North, Souhegan, and Dover all came down for this meet, as Salem finished off their 2008-09 season with a perfect 21-0 record and several Salem girls came up big for this meet. Leeann Vadala had a little extra jump in her step all night as she was busy practicing and conferring with coach Lavallo, her father, Nick, and her sister, Kristen, who coaches the Andover High girls. Shireen Kirata was the first Blue Devil to step up and had a personal best 9.0 score on Vault to take second place just behind Dover’s Desiree Freeman’s 9.05. Vadala then wowed the judges in the Uneven Bars where she took off and landed perfectly off a giant dismount that earned her a school record 9.4 score that beat Kristen Fairburn’s 9.35 score from 2005. Freshman Jamie Maffeo did a phenomenal job of earning a tie for second place with an 8.3 score, with Nashua North’s Courtney Mailloux. Now we went over to the Balance Beam where Salem junior Shireen Kirata would put on a show in winning this event with a super 8.8 score, which tied a personal best, and Leeann Vadala tied for second with an 8.7 score with Pinkerton’s Lanaya Shackleford. Once again, junior Taylor Buatti came through for her teammates as she claimed the No. 3 spot on the Beam with a terrific 8.6 score. Now it all came down to Floor Exercise for the Blue Devils, and Vadala was graceful and flawless and she took first place with a personal best 9.3 score, and Pinkerton’s Courtney Thompson was right behind Vadala with a nifty 9.2 score, and Shireen gained the third position with an 8.9 score. Salem had other great efforts from freshman Giana Contrada on the Beam and in the Vault, and freshman Christy Theriault also excelled in those two events. Coach Ginnie Lavallo was also pleased with her teams’ showing, as she added, “Our girls came out hungry and we were sticking with our routines today. They all know that we’re going to need efforts like this and even better in order to capture our third straight state title in two weeks, so we’re preparing, starting tonight.”
The Blue Devils girls gymnastic team took three more wins last Thursday night when they put up 132.2 points to earn three wins over Pinkerton’s 130.85 points, Manchester Central’s 128.7 points, and Keene’s total of 121.1 points. This gave coach Ginnie Lavallo’s Salem girls a 16-0 record on the season, which is quite remarkable when you consider that senior co-captain Jess Maffeo has been unable to participate for the last month because she has mono. Leeann Vadala would be edged in the All-Around by Manchester Central’s Ainsley Smith who compiled a total of 35.6 for the four events to squeak by Vadala’s 35.2 points for second place. Pinkerton’s Courtney Thompson finished third at 34.9 points, and these three will be going at it again in two weeks at the State meet along with Spaulding’s Caitlyn O’Brien. The other senior co-captain, Leeann Vadala, has been holding down the fort, but has received some immense help from juniors Shireen Kirata and Taylor Buatti, and freshmen Giana Contrada, Christy Theriault, and Jamie Maffeo.
E. J. Perry and his feisty Salem Blue Devils basketball team are hoping that their large and enthusiastic fan base are all going to be getting ready for another Class L playoff run. The team is also hoping that a huge crowd will turn out this Friday night, February 13, when the Blue Devils will be hosting a very tough Manchester West team that currently sports a 7-4 record. The Blue Devils stayed tied for third place in the Class L standings last Tuesday night when they went over to Hudson and jumped out the Alvirne Broncos 60-45. The Blue Devils shot out of the starting blocks by catapulting to a 22-7 first quarter lead that exhibited the gritty defense that they have been practicing tirelessly every night in practice. Josh Jones has been in a comfort zone the past several games, but he’s been beating the opposition by passing the ball and hitting the open man, as much as he’s been beating him with his hot shooting. Alex LaRosa certainly doesn’t resemble the 5’ 7” junior playmaker that is starting his first season in this position. Mike Kimball is always that bundle of energy, who digs in on defense and forced the turnover. These three kids combined for 51 of Salem’s 60 points in the game Tuesday night, and the Blue Devils enjoyed a comfortable 37-18 lead at the half. Joes would lead Salem with 19 points and three 3-pointers, LaRosa sunk 18 points and a pair of three-pointers, and Kimball had a normal great all-around game with 14 points. Sophomore forward, Joe Gallant continues to impress with each game and he snared several rebounds and plopped in four points, Sean Bergeron did a nice job on the boards and had three points, and Mark Adamson helped out underneath and also hit a bucket. Coach Perry and the Blue Devil boys are hoping that a big and boisterous crowd will be on hand Friday night in the Davis Gymnasium starting at 7 p.m. to root them on against West, in which can be their 10th victory of the year, and their eighth in a row.
Last Friday night the Blue Devils got a home game for the first time in almost two weeks and they showed their love for all the comforts of home almost from the opening tap off. Salem took over after leading 15-14 by holding a 20-16 advantage after one period and stretching it to 40-27 by intermission, Josh Jones, Mike Kimball and Alex LaRosa would all be in double figures by the break, as Jonesy had 14 points and three three-pointers, Kimball had 12 points and two three-pointers, and LaRosa had 10 points and two three-pointers. The only other Salem scorers in the first half were Sammy Shields and Kyle Henrick, who each had a bucket. Goffstown got two super efforts from Alex Stoyle (18 points), and Jeff Thomas (17 points), but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the relentless Blue Devils. Kimball added 14 points in the third quarter to give him a game high 26 points, and Josh Jones had four more and finished with 21 points on the night as Salem still held a 60-41 cushion heading into the final eight minutes. Alex LaRosa got his normal game average of 12 points, and Coach E. J. Perry got five points and six rebounds from Sean Bergeron who came in off the bench, and sophomore Matt Cannone also played well in the fourth quarter and added three points.
Coaches Ginnie Lavallo and Steve Needham were flying high a month ago when their Salem boys gymnastics team had won their first three meets, and junior Nick Miles was busy putting up phenomenal figures like about 50 points a match in the All-Around. Salem went down and crushed Newton North on the road, and then Salem was able to beat Lowell and Andover in a home meet at Salem, when Sean Fallon was sick and out of the line-up. Miles had already established himself as one of the top boys gymnasts in MA and NH, but he went to go get his wrist checked out recently and they gave him some very bad news. Miles had been performing with a cracked bone in his wrist and had to shut it down for the season.
Salem has still gone about their schedule against Andover and Mass powers Burlington and Attleboro, and are still doing more than holding their own. On Tuesday, the Blue Devils lost to Burlington, 156-129, but Sean Fallon was still able to win one event, come up with two second place finishes, and add a third as he rolled up 41.2 points in the All-Around. Fallon took the top spot on the Parallel Bars with a 7.4 score, earned runner-up spots on the Rings (6.0), High Bar (5.6), and Floor Exercise (8.8), and got a third in the Vault with a mark of 8.1. Dan Raymond has been a big part of this team too, as he got a 7.4 in the Floor Exercise, and a 7.6 in the Vault. This team also got tough efforts from Chris Barnes, Joe Travato, Dan Jeffrey, Jeremy Frias, and Matt Patel, along the way.
In Salem’s big contest against Attleboro, Salem lost, 148-127, but Sean Fallon was able to place first in the All-Around when he accumulated 43.4 points for the six events, and he won four of those vents! Fallon started off by ripping off an 8.9 in the Floor Exercise for his first win, then scored a 7.4 to take the High Bar, go airborne with an 8.8 score in the Vault, and cap off the evening with a 6.1 mark that topped the ticket in the Still Rings.