Hornets Edge Franklin to Move Closer to First Hock Title

Mansfield wrestling
Mansfield junior Noah Jellenik lifts his arms to the rafters after his match at 285 pounds, Despite a loss in his individual match, Jellenik sealed a 30-27 win for the team that puts the Hornets on the brink of a first-ever league title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Even the parents were out of their seats, creeping closer to the mat, and counting down the final seconds of the night’s final match. Mansfield junior Noah Jellenik laid flat on his stomach, holding off Franklin’s Riley Downing and waiting for the final horn to sound.

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As the ref waved his hand to signal the end of the match, Jellenik, who is in his first year as a wrestler, rolled onto his knees and threw his hands in the air in triumph. On three edges of the mat, his teammates, coaches, and Mansfield alumni hugged, cheered, and celebrated, as the Hornets moved one giant step closer to securing the program’s first ever Hockomock dual meet title.

Although Downing won the 285-pound match 6-2, Jellenik had accomplished his only goal, which was to avoid a pin. With the Panthers only earning three points in the final match of the hotly-contested dual meet, Mansfield held on for a 30-27 victory.

“Do not get on my back,” Jellenik said with a laugh when asked about his strategy going into the match. Trying to reflect on how he felt after securing the win, he said, “Wow, it’s kind of surreal right now. I’ve known these guys almost my whole life, at school and around town, and I’ve known the dedication they’ve put into the sport and to just be here for them and to support them is a hell of an honor.”

Mansfield coach Mark DiSanto said, “He showed so much heart tonight. Noah dug down deep and he pulled it out for us tonight. He was supposed to come out last year but during football season he tore his ACL. He watched last year. He went from manager to winning us the Hock.”

Downing nearly ended the celebration before it started. He was within an inch, maybe less, of earning a pin and pulling out a tie for his team, but Jellenik wriggled free enough to get back on his stomach and run out the clock.

“It would’ve been kind of a fitting ending considered how close it was,” said Franklin coach Carmine Colace. “This was a great dual meet. I’m proud of the kids. It’s like, what more could we do to change the outcome? Not much considering how we wrestled. They wrestled great, we wrestled great, and it was a lot of fun.”

It was a match that featured strong performances even in defeats, as the teams combined for only three pins and kept things tight throughout the match – Franklin’s 9-0 lead was the largest of the entire dual meet.

“That was a complete team effort, every weight class…We couldn’t have asked for more,” DiSanto said. “Every kid fought. I don’t even know what to say. That’s an unbelievable Franklin team there and they took us to the limit but we stepped up tonight.”

Drew DiFilipo got things started in strong fashion for the Panthers with a 15-0 win to earn five points at 106 pounds and Jake Carlucci earned another four points with a 12-0 win at 113 pounds. Although Franklin got nine quick points, both Stefan Wells and Noah Price were able to avoid the pin in each match.

Mansfield got on the board at 120 pounds when Max Farley earned a pin with 45 seconds left in the second period. At 126, it was Franklin’s turn to battle and avoid the maximum points. Antonios Seavastos, who had been originally scheduled to wrestle at 120, got two points in the first period and that was the only scoring in his match with Alex Fracassa to tie the meet at 9-9.

“Bumping [Sevastos] up to 126 was a good move,” Colace said. “Even though it was only a three-point match, our kid has won a lot of matches this year, so it was a good strategy on their part.”

The Panthers got the lead back at 132 with Jordan Carlucci earning their only pin of the night, ending his match just 17 seconds into the second period. Kenny Sauer earned a 9-1 win at 138 and put Franklin ahead by 10 points. Will Stratton got three points back for the Hornets at 145 with a take down seconds into his match, which he held onto for a 2-0 win.

DiSanto continued to make adjustments to his lineup to try and get his team the best possible match-ups. It really became a math problem, calculating how many points the Hornets would need from every match to get the team win. At 152, Ciaran Connolly stepped in and moved the regular rotation up a weight class. Connolly not only put in a solid performance but he also snagged a 4-1 win that moved Mansfield back within four.

“We go through every single matchup multiple times and how we can do it differently,” DiSanto explained. “We have a lot of talented kids behind our good kids, so we just tried to maximize our points by getting those other kids in. Tonight, Ciaran, we needed to get him in there and he came through.”

C.J. Glaropoulos won 4-2 in a hard-fought match against Caleb MacLean at 160 to make it 19-18 and his brother George followed with an equally tough win, 6-2, against Dom Sackley (who nearly caught Glaropoulos on his back in the first period) to give the hosts their first lead of the night. That lead extended to eight points when Jayden Curley took to the mat. The dominant senior had no problems jumping up a weight, as he got a pin just 37 seconds into his match.

“I attack every single second of the match that I can,” said Curley about his approach to the match. “I really don’t like to let up. Every match I go into with the same mentality, which is to score points and put people on their back.”

Franklin’s Dylan Nawn was also pushed back a weight class and he jumped in at 195 and won 19-4 to cut the lead to 27-24 with just two matches left. Ethan Nirenberg put the Hornets on the brink of the win when he got a 3-0 win at 220, after keeping Matt Walker from escaping in the second and then getting an escape and a fall in the third period.

It was 30-24 heading into the final match. Jellenik was cheered on by the raucous Mansfield home crowd and led 2-1 heading into the third period, while keeping his distance from Downing. He started the third period on the bottom and Downing nearly took advantage and turned that into a decisive pin, pushing Jellenik to the brink, but the ref’s hand stayed up in the air.

“That was amazing,” Curley said about Jellenik’s match. “That was just the heart we needed.”

He added, “It means everything in the world. Obviously, we still have other matches left in the Hock but this was the big dog that we had to take down. Even in individual matches, it all comes from how we work in the room.”

Mansfield (14-4, 2-0) still have two dual meets remaining in the league season, including a tricky one against King Philip, but this was the meet that everyone was focused on. A win next Wednesday against Taunton will secure at least a share of the first league title in program history.

Franklin (13-3, 2-1) will be back on the mat on Saturday at Chicopee before facing KP net week.

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Panthers Outlast Mansfield in Title Showdown

Franklin wrestling
Jake Carlucci opened the night with a pin for the Panthers, but Franklin was forced to battle in every match to win the dual meet against Mansfield. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – In the end, Franklin walked away with a comfortable 22-point win and at least a share of the its second straight Kelley-Rex division dual meet title, but this was anything but an easy Wednesday night on the mat for the perennial Hockomock League power.

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Mansfield came into the gym with a ton of energy, looking to clinch its first league title and avenge last year’s big loss in the Albertini Gym. The Hornets battled from the start, but the experience of the still undefeated Panthers proved to be too much, as they sealed a 43-21 victory.

“Mansfield came in ready to wrestle us and we kind of weren’t,” said Franklin coach Carmine Colace. “Last year was a reversal, we went over to their place and we crushed them. We were ready to wrestle them…this year was the other way around. They came out and wrestled us hard. It was a lot closer than the score indicated.”

Jake Carlucci got the meet off to a great start for the Panthers with a pin at 106 pounds and a quick six points. Franklin would get pins in three of the first four matches, but it was not straightforward for the Panthers.

Mansfield cut the lead in half with a 6-0 win by Antonios Savastos at 113 and Andy Triantifilopolous came storming out to take control of the action at 120 against Ian Bakalars. The Franklin wrestler turned things around in the second (after a brief injury break for the Hornets grappler) and ended up with a hard-fought pin in the third round.

After Jordan Carlucci earned a first round pin at 126, Franklin led 18-3. One of the turning points in the meet came at 132 where Will Stratton fell behind 5-0 after two rounds to T.J. Remillard, but flipped the match on its head in the third and nearly had the Panther pinned. The referee’s hand never hit the mat, Remillard broke free, and pulled out a 7-5 win.

“It was a lot closer than the score,” said Mansfield coach Mark DiSanto about his team’s overall effort. “We worked all week on working off our back and I think everyone gave 100 percent, no one quit. That was our goal at the end, to keep fighting for six minutes, and I think everyone did that.”

C.J. Glaropolous picked up six points for the Hornets with a second round pin at 138, but the momentum was short-lived as Mike Racca got the six points right back with a first round pin at 145.

“Take a little momentum away,” said Colace of Racca’s pin. “[Brian] Farrell got pinned by a freshman at 138 and that gave them a lot of momentum and we got that pin back.”

Colace added, “We gave up two pins tonight too and we shouldn’t be getting pinned. We take a lot of pride in that, not giving up those bonus points, and we gave up two of them tonight. No excuse for it.”

Mansfield started to climb back into the match with a 9-5 win by George Glaropolous at 152 pounds and then a second round pin by Jayden Curley that cut the lead down to nine.

The Hornets were seconds away from cutting the deficit to just six with Aidan Archambeault holding onto a one-point lead inside the final 10 seconds of his match at 170, but Thomas Smith got a last-second takedown to win 5-4.

“I felt like there were a lot of cases where the Mansfield kids kind of out-wrestled us even though we won a match,” said Colace about Smith’s victory. “I thought that kid out-wrestled us but we won the match.”

Vinnie Holmes kept hopes alive for Mansfield with a 10-4 win at 182, but Bruce Johnson sealed the victory and another league title with a 10-2 victory at 195. With the added fourth point from Johnson’s win, Franklin led 34-21 with just two matches remaining.

Jack Coughlin won 7-0 and Riley Dowling had a second round pin to add gloss to the final score of what was an otherwise close meet.

Colace said of the dual meet, “We gutted it out. We bent a little but didn’t break.”

“Every match could have gone either way,” said DiSanto, who still has a relatively young squad that could earn a share of the league title, if the Panthers lose to King Philip in the last league meet of the season. Either way, DiSanto knows that the Hornets have a bright future. He said, “There’s only three seniors and all these young kids are still here. We get better and better every year.”

Franklin (18-0, 3-0) and Mansfield (17-4, 3-1) will both compete in the Hockomock Championships at Canton High on Saturday.

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North Clinches Share of Title With Win Against Franklin

Devin Spratt
Devin Spratt (red) closed out the victory for North Attleboro with a 10-3 win at 120 pounds. Spratt is closing in on 110 career wins for the Rocketeers. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – It seems that every season when North Attleboro and Franklin meet on the mats that a league title is on the line. This year’s meeting took on added significance because this will be the last time (at least until divisional breakdowns are reassessed) that the two programs will be fighting for the league championship.

With North switching to the Davenport next year, the matchup will still pit two of the Hockomock’s top programs but there will not be a trophy on the line.

North Attleboro took the bragging rights and clinched at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title on Wednesday night in the Kenneth Pickering Gym. The Rocketeers got off to a fast start, leading at one point 30-0, and closed out a 42-21 win over the Panthers.

“I’ll say the same thing I alway say, beating Franklin is a good thing,” said North coach Wayne Griffin with a smile.

He added, “Being prepared for Franklin is always the toughest match of the year regardless of the quality level of either team. Not that I’m a football guy, but I always think of the Patriots and the Jets. It doesn’t matter how bad the Jets are you know it’s going to be a really tough game.”

The Rocketeers started with back-to-back wins by brothers Mike and Nick Gould. Mike, who was wrestling on senior night, got North in front with a 7-2 victory over Dylan MacLean and Nick, a junior, followed that up with a pin of Seamus Cogavin with 59 seconds left in the first period.

Griffin said, “They’re a special family of kids, all three (Zach is a sophomore wrestler) of them. Our team captain stepped up to the plate and did  the things he was supposed to do.”

North had the early momentum and started to roll. Collin Fiske added three points with a 9-2 win at 152 pounds, then three straight pins gave the Rocketeers a commanding 30-0 lead. Jordan Tillinghast (160) and Jack Donohue (170) both picked up pins in the third period and senior Nick Morrison (182) grabbed a pin with 1:01 left in the second.

Franklin coach Carmine Colace knew that his young squad would be tested on Wednesdsay, but was pleased with the effort of his wrestlers to make North work for its points.

He explained, “We had a 182 (Myles Polito) that fought really hard, he’s a freshman, a first-year kid and he fought really hard. The kid we had at 160 (Tom Smith) has been a backup all season. They battled for two of three periods and I didn’t expect that.”

Although North had a big lead, nothing had been decided, as Franklin had potential points waiting in the lower weight classes.

“Wrestling is a little more complicated than just what you see on the scoreboard,” said Griffin. “It’s all about match-ups and it’s about where you start.”

“We started in the strongest part of our lineup. It would’ve been a different feel to the evening had we started at 106 pounds because that’s where the strongest part of Franklin’s lineup is.”

Evan Herandez got the Panthers on the board at 195 pounds, pinning Brad White with 43 seconds left in the second period. John Miller cut the lead to 30-9 with a 5-0 win over Leo Thibault at 220, but North was handed six more points with no Panther to wrestle at heavyweight.

The meet was not over as it headed to 106 and Jordan Carlucci gave the Panthers a little hope of a comeback when he picked up a quick pin just 35 seconds into his match. Mike Rocca followed up with a 4-0 win at 113, but Jake Direnzo did a solid job of avoiding a big loss or a pin guaranteeing North at least a tie.

At 120, North turned to senior Devin Spratt and he came through with a fairly comfortable 10-3 victory over T.J. Remillard  to secure the win for his team. Earlier this season, Spratt became the 11th Rocketeer to reach the 100-win plateau and is now closing in on 110 for his career, which would move him into the top five all-time.

“It feels good,” said Spratt after the meet. “They’re always a tough match. We’ve lost pretty bad to them before, so it feels pretty good.”

When asked how it felt to get to 100 wins, he replied, “It feels like my hard work is paying off.” He continued, “Right now I think we’re on course to win the D2 state title, if everyone wrestles to their full capabilities.”

Nick Narducci beat Alex Devitto 6-2 at 126 and in the final match of the night at 132, North’s Anthony Biaungo and Franklin’s Amir Zamani saved the best for last.

Zamani led 4-0 after two periods and was ahead 5-2 in the third, but Biaungo got a point for an escape and then as time was winding down he took a chance to go for the takedown. Biaungo managed to get the two points with mere seconds to spare, although the Franklin coaches insisted that the wrestlers were out of bounds. In overtime, Biaungo wasted no time to get a reversal for a 7-5 win.

“Anthony Biaungo, he had that momentum going into his match and it helped in his overtime,” said Griffin. “Those things kind of came our way.”

Colace said, “I knew what we were getting into. We just got out-muscled tonight. They’re really well drilled and it’s the best team I’ve seen out of here in a long, long time…maybe they’ll finally win the big one.”

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.