reinforced one old adage and disproved another this weekend.
Hard work pays off, and nice guys don't always finish last.
London, the humble and unassuming Tewksbury High senior 170-pounder, etched his name in stone as one of the top all-time wrestlers in Tewksbury High history, topping off an undefeated regular season by winning the 170-pound title at the MIAA Division 2 State Championships held Friday and Saturday at Reading High School.
"I'm so happy for him," moments after London topped Marshfield's Mark Pomella, 5-2 in Saturday evening's championship match. "To see a kid spilling his guts like that, let me tell you, that kid's paid his dues. I'm so proud of him. He's done everything we've asked of him. He's asked us what he needs to do to become a champion, and that kid's done every bit of the work, you know.
"And for a kid like that...he's an honor roll student, takes all AP (Advanced Placement) courses and things like that," Aylward added. "He's been a pleasure to coach. I'm so thrilled for him and his family."
London, too, was choked with emotion as his teammates and family members crowded around him to congratulate him as he walked off the mat.
"I've been thinking about it since youth wrestling in fifth grade, I've always wanted to win a state championship, but I never got the chance until now," London said. "I don't know ... it's just awesome ... I didn't expect it. I hoped it would happen, but I never thought it would come after a season as successful as I had. I don't know ... it's a dream come true."
, improving his overall record . He pinned Dracut's Stig McElhinney in the second period of his semi-final round match Saturday afternoon, earning London the right to face Pomella, the Division 2 South Sectional champ, in the state championship match.
London struck first in the opening period of the title bout, scoring an early takedown, but Pomella pulled out a reversal just moments later to tie the score at 2-2.
After a hard-fought but scoreless second period, London started the third period in the down position, quickly executing an escape to take a 3-2 lead. The Tewksbury captain then secured the victory with a takedown, and kept Pomella in control until the buzzer sounded.
"He was tough," London said of Pomella. "It might have just felt tougher because of all the pressure, too. I don't like the spotlight, at all."
But spotlight or not, London has been flawless this year, whether it was in the familiar confines of the or the intimidating enormity of the Tsongas Arena. London has won every dual meet match, and every tournament match, he has competed in so far. In addition to the Division 2 state title, he has been victorious at the Wilmington Sons of Italy Tournament, the George Bossi/Lowell Holiday Tournament, the Woburn Invitational, the Methuen Invitational and
According to Aylward, it's all come down to putting in the work.
"We've had so many hard workers over the years," Aylward said. "But in terms of doing what he does in the off-season, I don't know that there's anybody in his league. We pride ourselves on having kids that understand how to work hard and he certainly is one of those trend-setters for all the kids that will follow."
London is not done, either. His win in the Division 2 championships earns him the right to compete in the All-State Championships Feb. 24 and 25 against the top four finishers from his own division as well as the Division1 and Division 3 championships. The top four finishers at the all-state meet compete in the New England championships on March 2 and 3.
"We're not done yet," London said. "We've got two weeks to get ready for the all states. I've got to get to work."
Four other Tewksbury wrestlers competed in the Division 2 championships this weekend. Senior 160-pounder Mike Davidian advanced to the semi-final round in his weight class, where he lost to defending state champion Ryan Therien of Masconomet. Davidian then wrestled his way to a fifth-place finish, pinning Milford's Roberto Dossantos in his final match.
Sophomore Nick Jansen also advanced to the semi-finals in the 220-pound division, where he was pinned by Dracut's Peter Salem. Jansen took sixth in his weight class.
Senior 132-pounder Matt Greenwood won his first career match at the state meet before being eliminated on Saturday. Also qualifying for states were 152-pound senior Dan Altavesta and 182-pound senior Derek Tarpey. Both Altavesta and Tarper were eliminated on Saturday.