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GEOFF SMITH - THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE

Berkshire County snares 6 individual titles at 2020 Western Mass. D-III Wrestling Championships

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PITTSFIELD — For some, it was the continuation of dominance. For others, it was the end of a lengthy journey. And finally, for some, it was the start of what's to come.

Wrestling in the gym at Taconic High School on Saturday, six Berkshire County wrestlers came home with individual titles in the Western Massachusetts Division III championships, while the host Braves came in second as a team.

Taconic's Dylan Burke (195 pounds) and Mike LaFreniere (132), along with Monument Mountain's Sam Cormier all repeated as sectional champs, while Monument's Logan Mead captured his first in his senior year and Mount Everett's Nick Lupiani won his first as a freshman. Then, there was the sixth champion in Mount Everett's Zack Lupiani, who won his second sectional title after falling just short a year ago.

The elder Lupiani, Zack, was awarded the Most Outstanding Wrestler trophy for his performance in the 2020 D-III meet.

Wrestling at 126 pounds, Zach Lupiani defeated Hampden Charter's Devin Lewis via a 14-9 decision. Lupiani went 3-0 on the day, including a pin in the semifinals and a 12-0 major decision in his first bout.

"That's what I've been working for all year," Zack Lupiani said of the gold medal. "My brother and I in the finals, my dad, that's what he wanted, and I came out on top again. That's all that matters."

Zack's dad is his head coach, Dave Lupiani. For Zack, getting to see his dad celebrate two sons winning a title, plus getting to see his little brother stand with him during the cross-mat intros before the finals, was surreal.

"It's cool, I did it last year with my older brother [Anthony], except we both ended up losing," Zack said of walking onto the mat with Nick. "This year, we both came out on top, and it was nice."

Nick, meanwhile, took down Frontier's Payton Sladeski in the first final of the night, winning via tech fall at 5 minutes, 36 seconds with the score at 17-2.

The brotherly connection didn't end with the Lupianis, however. Sam Cormier also stepped onto the cross-mat introductions with his younger brother, Ely, nearby.

"I mean, third time, it gets sweeter and sweeter every year," Sam Cormier said about winning his third sectional crown. "This is my last year and I got to have my best friends that I've been wrestling with since seventh grade with me. I got to have my little brother stand with me in crossmats, he made finals as a sophomore, which is awesome."

Sam entered the meet having not wrestled since early December, when he snapped his fibula clean in half during a match. Fortunately for Sam, though, the clean break meant no surgery. It did not, however, mean that a comeback was guaranteed.

"I was nervous until a week-and-a-half ago when they told me I could come back," Cormier said. "I had no idea what was going to happen. I worked all summer, I worked all spring, I worked all fall for this. To have that happen, it broke my heart. Being able to come back, it was a feeling you just can't explain."

Cormier got his third gold medal by beating Hampden Charter's Shaunari Buckhannon, winning a decision 14-4.

Sam Cormier was not the only Spartan to have his hand raised in the championship match. In what was one of, if not the highlight bout of the night, Logan Mead scored an escape point with three seconds left in the third, and final period to beat Taconic's Shawn O'Shea 8-7. O'Shea, trailing 7-5 in the third period, battled back and scored two points to tie things up.

With O'Shea on top position as the clock wound down, Mead knew that overtime wasn't an option.

"I knew I had to give it my all, every last bit of effort," Mead said. "If I made it to overtime with him, I would have lost. So I had to put everything I had into that 12-second period."

Mead's first attempt to stand up was thwarted when the pair went out of bounds. On the restart, Mead made sure his next attempt would count.

"It's one that I don't have words for," Mead said. "There is such a huge relief off of my shoulders. Since I've started, I just wanted this day to happen. I didn't know when it would be, I just knew it was my goal."

As for Sam Cormier's brother, Ely ran into the buzzsaw that is Taconic's Mike LaFreniere. Wrestling in the 132 final, LaFreniere recorded a pin at the 2:26 mark to repeat as Western Mass. champ. LaFreniere also recorded his 150th career win in the semifinal round. LaFreniere went 3-0 on the day, winning all of his matches by fall.

"To me, it means that I did my part," LaFreniere said about the individual win. "I mean, we didn't get what we really wanted, the team title, but I put my best foot forward with this team and tried to do it here.

"Unfortunately we fell short, but our guys wrestled real tough today, a lot of kids really rose to the occasion, it just wasn't enough."

Taconic, the two-time defending Western Mass. champ, scored 186.5 points to Hampden Charter's 198. In the championship rounds, Hampden Charter had five finalists and three champions, while Taconic had five in the finals, but two winners.

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Dylan Burke was the other champion for Taconic, beating Duggan Academy's Derek Roldan 17-5.

"It means a lot," Burke said. "Definitely means more that I did it in my home gym."

In other finals, Taconic's Broc Healey fell to Duggan's Ariel Escalante at 120 pounds, 8-3, and the Braves' Eric Packard was pinned by Duggan's Kazalya Merchant in 2:52. Also, Mount Everett's Jerimiah Tomascak fell at 152 to Hampden Charter's Thomas Czartoryski via pin at 3:11.

Mount Everett finished fourth in the team scoring with 118.5 points, Monument was ninth with 88, and Mount Greylock finished 15th with 40.5 points.

Taconic's David Babineau (138), Ryan Scott (145) and Mike Puskey (170) finished in third, as did Monument Mountain's Caden O'Rourke (195) and Mount Everett's Eduardo Rodriguez (220). Greylock's Ty Lepicier (120) and Jack Rosier (160) each finished in fourth.

The top four wrestlers from each weight class advance to the state D-III championships next week.

———

Team results — 1. Hampden Charter 198, 2. Taconic 186.5, 3. Hampshire 123.5, 4. Mount Everett 118.5, 5. Duggan Academy 104.5 ... 9. Monument Mountain 88 ... 15. Mount Greylock 40.5

Championship bouts

106 — Nick Lupiani (ME) def. Payton Sladeski (FRS), 17-2 5:36.

113 — Lisandro Martinez (HC) def. Cayden Henriques (SH), 9-4

120 — Ariel Escalante (DUG) def. Broc Healey (THS), 8-3

126 — Zack Lupiani (ME) def. Devin Lewis (HC), 14-9

132 — Mike LaFreniere (THS) def. Ely Cormier (MM) via fall at 2:26

138 — Kyle Brunelle (FCT) def. Joe Podolak (SV) via fall at 3:57

145 — Sam Cormier (MM) def. Shaunari Buckhannon (HC), 14-4

152 — Thomas Czartoryski (HC) def. Jerimiah Tomascak (ME) via fall at 3:11

160 — Tyreece Cherival (HC) def. Casey Baldwin (SV) via fall at 1:45

170 — Mason Willard (HAMP) def. Cassius Coates (DUG), 6-4

182 — Michael Baldwin (HAMP) def. Markys Lissaint (PATH), 2-1

195 — Dylan Burke (THS) def. Derek Roldan (DUG), 17-5

220 — Logan Mead (MM) def. Shawn O'Shea (THS), 8-7

285 — Kazalya Merchant (DUG) def. Eric Packard (THS) via fall at 2:52.

Geoff Smith can be reached at gsmith@berkshireeagle.com, @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.


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