Monument earns Western Mass. D-III wrestling championship
Editor's note: This story has been changed to reflect that Monument Mountain has six state qualifiers, not five.
HOLYOKE -- The goal was the same all season long for the Monument Mountain wrestling team: Win a Western Massachusetts team championship.
The Spartans didn't even have to make it through the entire tournament Saturday to achieve their goal.
With six state qualifiers, the Spartans wrapped up the Division III team title before the championship round at Holyoke High School, outpointing Sabis and Mount Greylock.
"It's probably the greatest accomplishment I've ever been able to achieve," senior Craig Cooley said. "It fills me with pride."
Monument finished with 194 points to Sabis' 162 and Greylock's 154.
In all, 16 Berkshire County wrestlers will advance to next week's D-III state meet. Greylock and Monument will send the most of any county team, with six qualifiers each.
"It's a good number to take," Greylock coach Ray Miro said. "The good news is that four of those guys will be coming back [next year]. ... It's a good thing, especially if a lot of the guys are young. My guys, I think all of them have been to states before except for Jude [Rorke]. That's really where we want to compete, at the state level."
The county can also boast about four individual champions -- Mount Everett's Bradley Lupiani at 126 pounds; Greylock's Devin Pelletier at 138 pounds, and Johnny Colon at 182 pounds; and Monument's Robert Yvon at 195 pounds.
Pelletier, Colon and Yvon earned their championships by pin. Pelletier pinned South Hadley's Chris Rojas in the first period; Colon won in the second period by putting the shoulders of Granby's Nolan Hodgins to the mat; and Yvon followed a match later with a first-period pin of South Hadley's Riley Baker.
Yvon's win was the perfect end to Monument's day, which saw them add a Western Mass. title to the Berkshire County championship.
"I would say it means everything. This is what we've been working for," Monument assistant coach David Colli said. "We want to be at a state level, but one goal at a time. ... A lot of people put a lot of hard work into this. What it goes to show is how good of a team we are all the way through."
Colli was filling in for Monument head coach Gordie Soule, who was ejected by a referee in the consolation rounds.
Lupiani, wrestling through a head injury suffered in the semifinal round, outpointed Dean Tech's Chris Vega 16-6 in the 126-pound title match.
"It's a good feeling," Lupiani said. "I was bummed when I got the two seed [in the bracket], but that proves seeds don't mean anything.
"Honestly, I still don't know what hit me [in the semifinals], but it hurts."
It doesn't hurt as much with a second consecutive Western Mass. title in the bag. Lupiani won sectionals last year at 113 pounds.
"I didn't feel it when I was wrestling," he said.
Lupiani is Everett's lone state qualifier. Taconic takes four wrestlers to states, led by 152-pound runner-up Dylan Sickell.
Despite wrapping up the sectional championship in the consolation rounds, the Spartans had trouble in the championship semifinal round; only one wrestler, Yvon, earned a berth to a championship match. Yvon earned points in the final seconds of the match to beat Hampden Charter's Alex Sierra.
Conversely, four Mounties earned championship-round berths, with two of them coming at Monument's expense -- Rorke over Eli Jones, 10-2 at 106, and Pelletier over Sebastian Zapata, 10-5 at 138.
Lupiani, in his fifth meeting with Taconic's Nick Bailey this season, outpointed the Brave 6-2 at 126 in the semis.
To reach Matthew Sprague: firstname.lastname@example.org, or (413) 496-6254. On Twitter: @BE_MSprague.
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