SOUTHWICK — Isiah Williams had a job to do. No matter that he and Mount Greylock's Cayman Mead had spent part of Friday hanging out together in a pool at a Southwick-area hotel, Williams knew the task at hand.
The Taconic wrestler did what he had to do to not only claim a Western Massachusetts Division III individual title, but he helped the Braves claim a team title Saturday night.
The Braves had two wrestlers in the championship finals, but got only Williams' championship, pinning Mead in the 152-pound final. That gave Taconic 172.5 points, 13 points ahead of runner-up Granby.
"I knew the team needed it, so I went out there with an extra push," said Williams, who was the Western Mass. champion at 145 last year. "I said 'all right, we need this.' If Mason [Papirio] had won his [at 138], I wouldn't have needed that push.
"But he lost, so I had to step up, and I did it."
While Papirio lost to Gabe Johnson of Hampden Charter in the 138-pound final, four other Taconic wrestlers earned third-place finishes in the wrestlebacks. That gave the Braves enough points to not only bring the championship home to Valentine Road, but to walk on the Taconic gym floor as champions on Friday when the MIAA state Division III tournament comes to the school.
It might not have been how Taconic coach Jeremy Tetreault planned to win it, but the Taconic coach called it a mission accomplished.
"We had Isiah win in the finals and Mason was in the finals. But we had a little talk with the guys and said we need to win this and we need to do the best we can," said the Taconic coach. "If you're going for third, you take third. If you're going for fifth, you've got to take fifth.
"It wasn't exactly the way we planned to do it."
It wasn't a bad night for Mount Greylock, who got another individual champion. Alex Griffis, who finished third in 2015, scored a decision over Luis Breton of Dean Tech.
"It feels great. I've sacrificed so much for this sport," an emotional Griffis said. "I've sacrificed so much of my personal life, and to finally see my goals and reach it, it's great.
"I don't know of any other sport that I would rather compete in, or any other lifestyle that I would want to dedicate myself to."
In all, Berkshire County's four wrestling teams had at least one wrestler taking center stage for Saturday's finals. Zach Lupiani of Mount Everett, Eli Jones of Monument Mountain, the aforementioned Papirio of Taconic, along with Mead, Devin Pelletier and Hunter Abriel of Mount Greylock, were all finalists.
They will all compete in this coming weekend's state meet. The Berkshire wrestlers who finished third and fourth will also get a chance to test their skills against the Commonwealth's best Division III wrestlers.
In the 138-pound final, Johnson jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead after one period. Papirio made a valiant comeback attempt, but it fell short in a 7-5 decision.
A short time later, Willliams and Mead took to the mat, and the Greylock wrestler promptly got a two-point takedown.
"That worried me actually," said Williams of the two points. "OK, now I have to step up my game and show him that I'm not going to back down."
Williams said after his semifinal win over Hampshire Regional's D.J Willard that he used Willard's momentum to get a pin in a minute, 30 seconds. Williams said he used the same strategy and with time winding down in the second period, got the pin against Mead, and that locked up the team title for Taconic.
Now at 195, Griffis got out to a quick start with a quick two-point takedown of his own. The Mountie said that in his mind, that was what he needed.
"It was just a confidence booster, that's all it was," said the Greylock wrestler. "I knew it was going to be tight. I knew it was going to be chippy.
"That first take down, when I got that, I felt that I could compete with this kid because I had never seen him before. The rest is history."
So Williams and Griffis will bring their titles to Pittsfield this coming weekend and will join the other county wrestlers on the four mats at Taconic when the state tourney starts Friday afternoon. The Braves will enter as champions.
"I don't know" how it's going to feel, said Tetreault. "We've never done it yet. I can't wait to do it."
Taconic 172.5, Granby 159.5, Dean Tech 156, Hampden Charter and Mount Greylock 139 (tie), Sabis 132, Hampshire Regional 106, South Hadley 104, Southwick 103, Monument Mountain 100.5, Franklin Tech 87, Smith Vocational 66, Gateway 62, Athol 60.5, Frontier 59, Mahar 58, Mount Everett 36, Pathfinder 24, Pioneer Valley 15, Mohawk Trail 12.5, Belchertown 0.
98 pounds — Shanari Buckhanon (HC) pins Zach Lupiani (ME) 1:46.
106 — Isaiah Cardenales (SH) pins Brandon Daniels (Gate) 1:01.
113 — Christian Garcias-Nieves (Sab) def. Eli Jones (MM) 9-4.
120 — Giovanni Rios (DT) def. Merrick Decker (HR), forfeit
126 — Omar Velez (HC) def. Ryan White (Athol) 18-6, MD
132 — Jose Berrios (DT) def. Eddie Martinez (Swick) 6-4.
138 — Gabe Johnson (HC) def. Mason Papirio (Tac) 7-5.
145 — Miguel Gonzalez (Swick) def. Nick Hoskin (Hamp) 4-3.
152 — Isiah Williams (T) pins Cayman Mead (MG) 2:37.
160 — Brandon Wyant (HR) def. Devin Pelletier (MG) 5-1.
170 — Kolby Smith (Sabis) def. Jack Sarnacki (Gran) 8-1.
182 — Xavier Hines-Coombs (Sabis) pins Clayton Yanosky (Gran) 5:21.
195 — Alex Griffis (MG) def Luis Breton (DT) 6-2.
220 — Nolan Hodgins (Gran) pins Matt Carrier (HR) 1:42.
285 — Kane Rich (FT) pins Hunter Abriel (MG) 3:56.
Local third-place matches
106 — Max Buffoni (MM) def. Christian Rivas (Sabis) 1:13.
113 — Adam Cohen (MG) pins Colin Pettis (Fron) 3:35.
120 — Pat Fosby (ME) def. Khadir Zackery (Sabis) 8-0.
132 — Zabion Powell (Tac) pins Mike Scudari (Gate) 4:33.
170 — Tanner Hastings (Tac) pins Tyler Orban (Swick) 2:14.
182 — Austin Houghtaling (Tac) def. Nolan Keane (DT) 7-4.
195 — Gabe Marcoux (Mahar) def. Bart Christiano (MM) 6-3.
285 — Dalton Peck (Tac) def. Joseph Elahi (HC) 3-2.