Monday, February 20
Comeback stories are as old as sports themselves. This morning, Mount Greylock wrestler Matt Clement has a comeback story that rivals the best of them.

One week after losing in Western Massachusetts Division 3 semifinals on a pin that, a week later, he still had trouble believing, Clement beat the tournament's top seed on Friday and then on Saturday claimed the state Division 3 championship at 140 pounds. The tournament was held at Foxborough High School.

Clement pinned Dan Longo, of Pembroke, in 3:15, and was later joined by teammate Jeff Brodeur as state champions.

"It felt really good to be on top" of the Olympic-style podium used when the medals are rewarded, Clement said yesterday. "It was the first time I ever won a tournament, surprisingly."

Clement's teammate wrestled a familiar foe in the championship, Greenfield's Alex Pirozhikov. As he did in the Western Mass. tournament, Brodeur won the 160-pound title with a decision, this time the score was 10-2.

While the Greylock duo were the only local gold medalists in the state tournament, three other Berkshire County wrestlers earned top-six finishes and medals.

Pittsfield High's Todd Sweeney continued a great post-season run with a third-place finish at 112 pounds, while Mount Everett's Matt Dempsey was fourth at 140 and John Robitaille of Mount Everett took sixth at 215. Sweeney, who won the Western Mass.


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Division 3 title, was the only other champion from the county to finish in the top six.

"It kind of hasn't kicked in yet," said Clement of his championship. "Ever since I started wrestling, it's a goal everyone talks about. It's what everyone goes for. It feels really good to finally get it."

Last Saturday, many in the Southwick-Tolland High gymnasium thought that Clement had been able to pin Craig Maddy of Southwick in the semifinals. But it was Maddy who eventually got the pin and it was Clement who walked around the gym with a stunned look on his face. That is until the Mountie senior claimed third and a berth in the state tournament.

"I definitely used (the loss) to drive me," said Clement.

That drive started in practice during the week and in Greylock's mid-week win in the team tournament.

"Coming into practice last week, the coaches were very encouraging and they said to put what happened behind me," recalled Clement.

Clement opened the tourney in Foxborough with a pin of Hanover's Sean McConnell, and then a 5-2 win over top-seeded John Noble of Winchester.

A familiar foe waited for Clement in the 140 semifinal — Everett's Matt Dempsey. The duo had split 1-1 during the regular season, but the Greylock wrestler got the better of his rival from South Berkshire, scoring a 5-3 decision.

"I knew it was going to be a tough match," said Clement. "In the last 20 seconds, I pulled ahead. He's a great wrestler and a great kid."

Another great wrestler awaited in Pembroke's Longo. But this time, Clement saved his best for last.

"He shot in, I spun around and put him on his back," recalled Clement. "I couldn't believe it."

It was 5-0 early and Clement was in control until he got the pin with 45 seconds left in the period.

As Clement battled for the state title, Dempsey and Maddy were front and center by the mat, cheering on their rival. During the year, the three wrestlers had all split matches against each other.

The only thing that could have made the win better was to have another Mountie win — and Brodeur filled the bill.

The Greylock senior, who passed Clement's practice partner Jon Girard as the all-time winningest Mountie wrestler, was the top seed at 160. His semifinal win over Foxborough's Joe Bordieri was one for the ages. With the home crowd rooting for Bordieri, Brodeur scored a heart-stopping 4-1 decision.

Brodeur was trailing 1-0 late in the third period, and it looked like the Mountie was not going to reach his goal of a state title. But with about 20 seconds remaining in the final stanza, Brodeur recorded a two-point escape and also got two back points for the 4-1 final.

That left one obstacle en route to the title, Greenfield's Pirozhikov.

Brodeur took care of him in a decision last week, and did the same Saturday. The route to victory was different. Last week, Brodeur was disappointed in the 7-4 decision over Pirozhikov.

"He wrestled very defensively so it's hard to make any moves on him," Brodeur said last Saturday. "That's why it was so low scoring. My game plan was to attack and be aggressive. He kept backing up."

Saturday night, there was no backing up and no low-scoring match. Brodeur scored five points in the first period and led 10-0 before giving up a pair of points late for the 10-2 final.

"It felt really good to have someone else share the glory," said Clement. "It felt good to win it. It felt better to have somebody else (grom Greylock) win a title."

Berkshire County results:

Finals

140 pounds: Matt Clement (MG) pinned Dan Longo (Pemb.) 3:15.

160: Jeff Brodeur (MG) def. Alex Pirozhikov (Green) 10-2.

Consolation Finals

112: Todd Sweeney (P) def. Eric Johnson (Pemb.) 5-4.

140: John Noble (Winch). def Matt Dempsey (ME) 6-4.

Fifth Place

215: Christian Pena (Wayland) def. John Robitaille (ME) 6-5.

Semifinals

112: Pat Ogilvie (Hudson) def. Sweeney 7-4.

140: Clement def. Dempsey 5-3.

160: Brodeur dec. Joe Bordieri (Fox.) 2-1.

215: Ryan Mooreshead (Fox.) pinned Robitaille 5:03.