Western Mass. wrestling begins at Monument
Monument Mountain wrestling coach Gordie Soule was able to make the most of the extra week he had with his team before this weekend's Western Massachusetts Division III tournament in Great Barrington.
"It's been great," he said. "We've been able to get control of some things, go over some things we've wanted to go over. It's been another week of conditioning."
The days are about to get much more hectic for Soule and all of the Western Mass. coaches.
The MIAA announced Thursday that the state divisional meets will be held this upcoming week, from Tuesday to Wednesday at Wakefield High School for Division III, with the All-States tournament next weekend. This allows Massachusetts wrestlers to compete in the New England meet, which wasn't originally possible due to earlier weather-related postponements.
The New England Championships are March 1-2.
"It doesn't give you much time, if anything," Mount Greylock coach Ray Miro said Thursday. "We'll practice Monday and then we've got to head out Tuesday. The kids are really going to have to watch their weights. We'll see who qualifies, and then I'll have to talk to those kids."
Today's wrestling begins at 3 p.m. at Monument. Saturday's semifinals begin at 11:30 a.m., with the championship round scheduled for 6 p.m.
Four county wrestlers go into this weekend's tournament ranked No. 1 -- Mount Everett's Bradley Lupiani (113 pounds), Mount Greylock's Mitch Graves (145) and Ross Jackson (182), and Taconic's Travis Kuni (160). The top four finishers in each weight class qualify for states, with the fifth and sixth-place finishers as alternates.
You'd think it would look like an easy road for the top seeds, but Miro has been around long enough to know that coaches and wrestlers should take nothing for granted.
"At 145, it'll be a tough semifinal match [for Graves]," he said. "I think [Mount Everett's Matt] Fosby's coming back, from what I hear. It's either him or [Monument Mountain's] Alex Dupont. I don't know how they match up, because I don't think Fosby was figured in.
"Ross Jackson is in a good place, but he's got a tough semifinal match [if the seeds] hold."
Other top wrestlers include Dupont (third at 145), Greylock's David O'Brien (third at 152), Monument's Jonah Christianson (third at 220) and Taconic's Tajaye Davis (second at 285).
"There's a lot of kids that can wind up at states," Miro said. "It's just, when they get there, how they perform. Tajaye Davis comes to the top of my head when I think of heavyweights. Bradley Lupiani, obviously, is a good one."
Greylock, as a team, could not look much stronger right now. The Berkshire County champions are 24-4-1 in duals, and haven't lost a dual since Jan. 12.
But at this point in the season, individual performances dictate what the teams will take home, as well as who will move on in a hectic week of wrestling.
"For us, I think they're equally as important," Soule said. "I think if individuals do well, the team does well."
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