Defending champion Monument, Taconic lead the way for this weekend's Western Mass. D-III wrestling tourney
"That's what we're looking for, to keep improving" heading into Western Mass., Monument coach Simon Jones said after Saturday's Berkshire County Duals in Great Barrington. "Our team is looking strong going into Western Mass., so we're looking forward to it."
Division III wrestling will gather at Taconic High School Friday and Saturday for the championships.
First-round matches will begin Friday at 3:30 p.m., and will continue through the quarterfinals. The semifinals will start Saturday at 11 a.m., followed by the wrestle-backs and the championship finals. Those, according to the MIAA wrestling handbook, are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., but tournament schedules are always fluid.
It is also expected to be the last major championship contested at the gym on Valentine Road. The new high school, currently under construction next door, is slated to be open in September.
It's something that Taconic coach Jeremy Tetreault and his wrestlers fully understand.
"We had our Senior Night, when we had Monument [last] Wednesday," he said. "This will the the last tournament, which will be the Western Mass. championships, so it is a big deal."
Taconic won the Western Mass. Division III title in 2016, finished tied for fourth last year with Franklin Tech and finished second to Dean Tech in 2015. Berkshire County schools have won three of the last four D-III championships, with Monument having won back in 2014.
Nine Berkshire County wrestlers have earned either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in this year's tournament. Taconic has three top-seeded wrestlers.
Zabion Powell, who comes in with a 25-3 record, is the top-seeded wrestler at 145 pounds. Last year, he was the top seed at 132, and lost to Hampden Charter's Omar Velez in the championship bout.
The other Taconic top seeds, are Dylan Burke at 170 and Shawn O'Shea at 198.
It appears that the 170-pound weight division could be one to really keep an eye on. Burke is the top seed and he had a 19-5 record. The No. 2 seed is Monument Mountain's John Field. Field had a 30-2 record coming in, and one of the losses was to Burke. The Taconic wrestler scored an 8-3 decision in the first dual meet between the two schools.
Monument Mountain's Sam Cormier earned the No. 1 seed at 132 pounds. Cormier finished third last year as a freshman in the 120-pound division.
Last year, his older brother Nate was the top seed at 145 and went on to win the Western Mass. title.
Zach Lupiani of Mount Everett is the final top-seeded wrestler out of Berkshire County. Lupiani, who has lost once in 14 bouts this year, is the No. 1 at 106 pounds. He is followed by second-seeded Caleb Pollard of Monument and Deven Pekosz of Taconic at No. 3.
Taconic's Mike LaFreniere, who lost to South Hadley's Isaiah Cardenas at 106 pounds last year, is the No. 2 seed at 113. Mount Everett's Pat Fosby, who was No. 1 last year at 120 and lost to Athol's Merrick Decker in the championship bout, is the No. 2 seed at 120 this year.
Two other Taconic wrestlers, Tanner Hastings at 182, and Teyler Hiestand at 220, are also second-seeded wrestlers.
Winning the Berkshire County title was the first item on Taconic's to-do list. This weekend, Tetreault is looking to scratch another item off that list.
"Now, hopefully, we can win Western Mass. at our place," said the Taconic coach. "That's what we've been thinking about the whole year. We're hosting Western Mass.
"We've got to win it there."
Howard Herman can be reached at email@example.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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