Monument wrestling's bid for county perfection postponed
To Mark Leon-Duque, there are two kinds of championships you can win in Berkshire County high school sports.
You can be a county champ, or you can be an undefeated county champ.
Leon-Duque and Monument Mountain's wrestling team can finish an unbeaten run through county dual meets when they make up a dual against Mount Everett. Tonight's match has been postponed.
"Obviously, we want to be undefeated champs," the junior 170-pounder said. "If you lose, it just doesn't have the same vibe or feel to it. We want to maintain a strong structure."
That structure has lifted the Spartans to 22 wins in 25 dual matches so far this season, as well as the county title. But coach Gordie Soule and his wrestlers have more than just Berkshire success on their minds.
"We're focusing on more than the county championship, certainly," Soule said. "These kids have worked hard. They've certainly sacrificed. They've certainly bled. And they've certainly had their low times."
Those low times have been few and far between in the 2013-14 season. Monument can not only fill an entire slate from 106 to 285 pounds, but can also fill those spots with talented grapplers. One of them, Leon-Duque, is 36-4 at 170 this season.
"We're fielding experienced wrestlers at every weight class, and we expect, at any dual meet, we can win at every weight class," Soule said.
Leon-Duque said that, as a freshman, he learned to love wrestling. Once that happened, the wins came.
"[Soule] just wanted us to ... make sure we fell in love with the sport first, before we made any major commitments," Leon-Duque said. "I remember halfway through that season that [Soule said] there could be some state champions in the room, constantly alluding to that. He was referring to me and my brother [Mike Molina] and a few others like Robert [Kahlstrom] and Robert Yvon."
All four of them are among the best Berkshire County puts on the mats -- Kahlstrom at 126, Molina at 160 and Yvon at 195.
All wins aside, though, this isn't Monument's breakout season. That was last season. Though the Spartans didn't win a county championship, they announced their presence to Western Mass. at the sectional meet in their own gymnasium. Sebastian Zapata took fifth at 138, Alex Dupont was second at 145, Leon-Duque was second at 160, Yvon was fifth at 195 and Jonah Christianson was third at 220.
"I think last year, the Western Mass. tournament showed me how far we had come," Soule said. "I felt like there's a good culture in South Berkshire as far as wrestling goes, and that we put on a really good tournament."
The Spartans' toughest tests are yet to come. The dual-meet state tournament is this weekend, with Western Mass. a week after that.
Leon-Duque has done his homework on his weight class. He knows defending Western Mass. 145-pound champion David Weed of Franklin Tech is at 170 this year. So is defending Western Mass. 138-pound runner-up Shane O'Connor of Granby, and Sabis' Kolby Smith (fifth at 160 last year).
"And that's just in D-III West," Leon-Duque said. "You have three good wrestlers right there that all have potential to win Western Mass. and place in states. In all the other sections, you have seniors and juniors who have potential and are willing to win.
He didn't mince his words when he discussed his and the Spartans' goals for the postseason.
"We're expecting to take 13 wrestlers to states," Leon-Duque said. "The goal is to win Western Mass., of course."
To reach Matthew Sprague:
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On Twitter: @BE_MSprague.
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