Saturday February 16, 2013

GREAT BARRINGTON - Fifty-five seconds.

That's all the time Taconic's Tajaye Davis has needed on the wrestling mat this weekend to reach the Western Mass. Division III championship round.

"I don't know if that's true or not," Braves coach Matt Chamberlain said Saturday.

An assistant coach behind him was quick to say, "It's true!" Davis, a 285-pounder, earned a 37-second pin of Pathfinder's Brandon Turcotte in the championship semifinals Saturday at Monument Mountain Regional High School. That followed an 18-second quarterfinal pin Friday.

He's one of two Braves and six Berkshire County wrestlers (not counting the 100-pound class, which does not advance to states) who will compete in the championship finals. Monument Mountain is fighting for a team championship in its own gymnasium, in second place in the standings after the championship semifinals. Dean Tech leads with 125 1/2 points, with Monument scoring 122 1/2 so far.

Taconic will also send Travis Kuni to the championship finals at 160; Monument has Alex Dupont (145) and Mark Leon-Duque (160); Mount Everett has Bradley Lupiani (113); and Mount Greylock sends Ross Jackson (182) to the championship final.

Davis needed just two throws in his semifinal to move on and face Dean Tech's Brian Wodecki in the 285 final.

"He goes out there, locks up the kids and he throws them," Chamberlain said. "He normally puts them away."

Monument coach Gordie Soule didn't want to get too excited about the team scores Saturday afternoon, with consolation rounds already under way.

"I want to stay even," he said. "We've got a lot of work to do. But yeah, I think it's coming together at the right time. I think that hard work is starting to pay off."

Jackson claimed his semifinal with an 8-6 decision over Murad Kasymov of Hampden Charter, earning a key reversal and follow-up points in the last seconds of the match. Jackson narrowly avoided a loss by pin in the closing seconds of the second period.

"He got himself in trouble," Greylock coach Ray Miro said. "We constantly preach staying in good position, not trying to force things. I knew the kid was going to be tough. He's got great hips; they're taught well.

"Ross [is] winning the match, controlling it, and then he gives up a five-point move and almost gets pinned. It takes energy out of you and everything else. But he gutted it out."

In an all-Berkshire semifinal at 145, Monument's Dupont earned a 1-minute, 29 second pin over Greylock's Mitch Graves. Dupont also narrowly avoided a pin in the match -- though Miro doesn't think he did.

"He [Graves] had that cradle," Miro said. "He had a good cradle. He had, what I thought, was a pin. It didn't get called, and that's it. You put yourself in a position in the match and the kid's shoulders are exposed and flat, you expect to get a pin call."

Still, Miro knows his dispute won't change the results, and that Graves must re-focus in consolation matches, or wrestlebacks, to earn a top-four finish and advance to Tuesday's D-III state meet.

"Anything I say is not going to change the outcome of the match," he said. "But we have a chance Tuesday and Wednesday at the state meet. You can win a Western Mass. championship, but if you win at states, that supersedes anything at Western Mass."

Monument had one of the more interesting victories of the early action Saturday, as Leon-Duque won his semifinal over Pioneer Valley's Lukas Rathbun due to a rare defensive pin at the 3:15 mark. Leon-Duque was pinned, but was able to position himself to get Rathbun's shoulders to the mat and earn the win.

"He was caught in a cradle. He had good mat awareness," Soule said. "In a cradle situation, you can get a defensive pin out of it. He knew the other kid was in a precarious position, and he pushed back into him with his other leg and got the pin."

He'll face Kuni -- a winner by pin in 3:20 over Gateway's Andrew Goskowicz - in an all-Berkshire final.

"I expect [Leon-Duque] to wrestle tough, especially this being his home tournament," Chamberlain said. "He doesn't want to come here and lose in front of his peers, his coaches, his mom and dad and everyone else.

"It's nice that Western Mass. is in Berkshire County, because Travis is in that same position."

The Braves' Dylan Sickell was injured in the 138-pound semifinals against Granby's Shane O'Connor. Sickell appeared to go down with a right knee injury, and was expected to injury-default through wrestlebacks, giving him a sixth-place finish.

The 100-pound final is another all-Berkshire match, with Greylock's Jude Rorke facing Everett's Pat Fosby.

To reach Matthew Sprague:
msprague@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6254.
On Twitter: @EagleSportsZone.