The King Has Been Crowned: Undefeated Murray Wins New England Heavyweight Title

NORTH ANDOVER – If ever there was an embodiment of the phrase “hard work pays off,” then Owen Murray became that person Saturday afternoon.

With four amazing victories at the 2015 CNESSPA New England High School Wrestling Championships – one Friday and three Saturday — Murray became the first Red Raider wrestler in Barnstable High School history to win a New England Wrestling Championship and the victory also made perfect his entire season at 38-0.

KING OF THE MOUNTAIN - Barnstable High's Owen Murray was crowned the heavyweight champion of New England yesterday, completing a perfect 38-0 season. he is the first New England wrestling champion in school history. Photo courtesy of Kristin Murray

KING OF THE MOUNTAIN – Barnstable High’s Owen Murray was crowned the heavyweight champion of New England yesterday, completing a perfect 38-0 season. he is the first New England wrestling champion in school history.
Photo courtesy of Kristin Murray

Not one wrestler on Cape Cod could beat him.

Not one wrestler in Massachusetts could beat him.

And not one wrestler in the six states of New England could beat him.

“I felt pretty confident going in,” Murray said late last night. “I had a really good week of practice. I just visualized in my mind what I wanted to do and I went there and I did it.”

On the heels of his third consecutive Division 1 South Sectional Championship three weeks ago, Murray captured his first-ever state championship title. He became just the third Red Raider wrestler in school history to do so, following in the footsteps of former Red Raiders Michael Botello and Will Henson.

Last weekend, Murray was crowned the heavyweight division All-State Champion and then yesterday, Saturday, given the #1 seed from Massachusetts, Murray became a class unto himself. No other Barnstable wrestler since the program’s inception in 2003 has achieved a New England crown.

A four-time Old Colony League all-star on the mats, and a two-time Old Colony League football all-star as an offensive and defensive lineman, Murray will likely garner Boston Globe and Boston Herald All-Scholastic honors for his remarkable season this year, if not considered for Division 1 Wrestler of the Year as well.

On Friday, Murray defeated North Attleboro High’s Brennan Sankey in the preliminary round. Sankey was the 5th seed in Massachusetts in the heavyweight division and he was pinned by Murray at 1:34 in the first period (2-0).

Murray followed with another pin in the championship quarterfinals early Saturday morning. He pinned Connecticut #2 seed Luke Edmondson from Foran High School in the second period at the 3:50 mark and took a 3-0 win.

HIS MENTORS - Barnstable High wrestling coaches Mark Barrett, Kyle Cocozza Jr. and Dr. Peter Bertucci share a proud moment with their pupil: New England Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Owen Murray of Barnstable High School. Photo courtesy of Kristin Murray

HIS MENTORS – Barnstable High wrestling coaches Mark Barrett, Kyle Cocozza Jr. and Dr. Peter Bertucci share a proud moment with their pupil: New England Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Owen Murray of Barnstable High School.
Photo courtesy of Kristin Murray

It was not a win without some drama, as Murray had to escape Edmondson’s hold, flip him over and pin him down. Still, Murray said at no point during any of his matches was he ever concerned he might lose points or worse yet, lose.

“They were good matches, all of them,” Murray said. “But no, I was confident through all of them.”

The victory against Edmondson pushed Murray to the championship semifinals against Northampton High School’s Nick Day, the #4 seed in Massachusetts in the heavyweight division.

Murray wasted little time, pinning Day in the first period at 0:47 with a takedown.

Nearly spent from an entire day’s worth of battling with the region’s very best, Murray went into the Championship bout Saturday afternoon to face Hopkinton High School’s Josh Sokol, a 6’2”, 250-pound football star not entirely unlike Murray.

It was the last bout of the day for all wrestlers in all weight classes.

It was also the first bout of the weekend where Murray did not end up pinning his opponent but instead won by decision, 5-1, in the third period.

Murray jumped ahead of Sokol in the first period with a key escape and takedown, garnering three critical points, while Sokol picked up one point for an escape from the down position.

Neither wrestler had earned any points in the first period.

In the third and final period, Murray knew he was going to take home the crown.

“I had picked up some points in the first period, but then he started poking me in the eye and I started picking up penalty points,” Murray said.

Murray said that Sokol was assessed the penalties because the jabs to Murray’s eyes were deemed purposeful.

Murray picked up two points on penalties assessed to Sokol and the rest was history.

Literally.

Former Barnstable High School wrestling head coach and founder Mike Magner – who now resides in Miami, Florida but remains a steadfast supporter of the varsity program he built and was the Red Raider head coach when Murray was just a grade-school kid learning how to grapple in the Barnstable Recreation Department program – was ecstatic about Murray’s accomplishment.

“Greatest season by any Barnstable wrestler ever!” he said. “What an incredible accomplishment. He will be the standard for all those who follow.”

— Sean Walsh is the sports editor for www.capecod.com. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm

 

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