Four county grapplers into state D-III wrestling semifinals
FOXBOROUGH -- It seems Bradley Lupiani's wrestling opponents like to come at him in the same manner this postseason: Wait him out, keep the score low and hope the Mount Everett 126-pounder makes a mistake.
Twice, they tried it on Friday in the MIAA Division III state tournament. Twice, it failed.
Lupiani, the Western Massachusetts champion, won twice at Foxborough High School to reach Saturday's state semifinal round. He outpointed Cohasset's Harry Helbock 3-0 in the opening round, then waited out Watertown's Daniel D'Amico before pinning him in 3 minutes, 42 seconds in the quarterfinals.
"He's just going out there, getting a couple of points at a time and just working from the points," Everett coach Dave Lupiani said of his son. "He's not putting himself in a bad position or situation."
Lupiani will face Nate Pacheco of Somerset, the Southern Mass. champion, in Saturday's semifinal round.
"The Cohasset kid, we wrestled him last year," Dave Lupiani said. "They play [Bradley] where they don't do anything. They wait for him to put himself in a bad position. ... They're trying to keep the match very close, where he's limited on scoring."
He's joined in the semifinals by fellow Berkshire County wrestlers Travis Hilchey (Mount Greylock, 132) and 182-pounders Jonah Christianson (Monument Mountain) and Johnny Colon (Greylock).
Hilchey's two-win day consisted of a 12-0 opening-round win over Quabbin's Mike O'Rourke, and was followed by a 14-7 decision over Bryan Williams of Bristol-Plymouth/Coyle and Cassidy that was closer than the score indicated.
Hilchey, a junior, led 12-0 early in the third period when Williams came dangerously close to pinning the Mountie's shoulders to the mat.
This is where Hilchey's calm demeanor and experience overcame any sense of panic he might have had.
"I didn't expect it," Hilchey said. "When I got on my back, I used my head. I wasn't thinking 'Oh, I'm gonna get pinned.' I looked, circled, saw that his legs were close to mine, clamped and brought him ... out of a position of getting pinned."
Hilchey entered the tournament as the Western Mass. runner-up at 132, and was able to beat a Southern Mass. champ in order to reach today's semifinal against Northern Mass. champ Josh Wesolowski of Pentucket.
Wesolowski is the top seed in the 132-pound bracket. That's a statistic that doesn't matter to Hilchey.
"When I go out and wrestle, whoever goes out on the mat and shakes my hand is who I'm ready to beat," he said. "I don't care where they're seeded. I don't care what they've done in the past."
Colon, the Western Mass. champ at 182, earned two wins by pin to reach Saturday's semifinal round. He overcame what he thought was a sub-par performance in the first round -- albeit a win by pin -- to pin Marblehead Swampscott's Ali Atallah in the first period of the quarterfinal round.
Christianson pinned Rockland's Bobby Gasdia in the first round before sweating out a 5-3 decision over Central Mass. champ Bailey Vespa of Wayland.
"It's going better than planned, way better," Christianson said after the quarterfinal win. "On the mat, I've calmed down ... I just stopped doing dumb stuff. I'm trying to stay on track."
Christianson faces Northern Mass. champ Mark Boyle of Triton today, while Colon faces Southern Mass. champ Elliott Johnson of Norton.
"We're just wrestling like ourselves. If we keep going, we'll be going head-to-head," Colon said.
Colon's first-round win was arguably the most exciting. Locked in a tight, high-scoring match with Cohasset's Hayes Keniley, the Mountie finally broke a tie in the late seconds of the match with a takedown, and actually won via pin.
Three Greylock wrestlers are still going in Saturday's rounds. CJ Lillie is still alive in the 145-pound consolation bracket. Those results have the Mounties eighth overall with 33 1/2 team points.
Of the five Monument wrestlers who made it to the first day of states Friday, just one, Christianson, remains. Taconic's Dave Jones is still wrestling in the 220-pound consolation bracket.
The opening round saw eight Berkshire County wrestlers reach the championship quarterfinals. All four Western Mass. D-III champions from the Berkshires -- Lupiani, Greylock's Devin Pelletier, Colon and Monument's Robert Yvon -- were winners, as were Greylock's Hilchey (132) and David O'Brien (160), and Monument's Mark Leon-Duque (170) and Christianson (182).
Lupiani's opener was an arduous, dragging 3-0 win over Helbock. Lupiani got the early points he needed, and then waited out his opponent the rest of the way. Pelletier, a freshman, won by injury default over Triton's Cody Nixon, and Yvon outpointed Melrose's Mike Doucette 8-3.
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