Hornets Edge Franklin to Move Closer to First Hock Title

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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

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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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Franklin Dominates At Mansfield, Clinches Share of Title

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Ian Bakalars won his match at 113 pounds by pin, as Franklin rolled to a big win over Mansfield and clinched a share of the Kelley-Rex dual meet title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – On Wednesday, the Panthers were recognized for their impressive season, which includes only one dual meet defeat to Marshwood (Maine) in a tournament in Merrimack, N.H. over the weekend.

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Mass Wrestling named Franklin the top team in the state, across all divisions, and the Panthers went out on Wednesday night against Mansfield in the James Albertini Gym and showed why they are so highly regarded.

Franklin won the opening eight weight classes of the dual meet, four of them by pin and another by tech, and lost only two of the 14 matches on its way to a comprehensive 59-8 team victory. With King Philip losing to Oliver Ames in another of Wednesday’s dual meets, the Panthers also clinched at least a share of the league title with one dual meet remaining.

“I told the kids that we have a target on our backs,” said Franklin coach Carmine Collace about the message before the meet against the Hornets. “Teams are going to come out and wrestle us hard and they’ve got to step up. If they want to remain the No. 1 team in the state, then you’ve got to wrestle tough and they did.”

Jordan Carlucci set the tone with a quick first round pin at 106 pounds and Ian Bakalars (113) followed with a pin in the second round. Mike Racca made quick work of his opponent at 120 and gave the Panthers a dominant 18-0 start.

T.J. Remillard scored four points in the opening round of his match against Will Stratton at 126 and, as much as the Mansfield grappler tried to find a way to score, held on for a 4-0 win. Brian Farrell followed that with another strong performance at 132 to pick up the 15-0 victory and five points for the Panthers.

Tom Zogby had a second round pin at 138 and Dylan MacLean got a very quick pin at 152, but in between at 145 was one of the matches of the night between Caleb MacLean for Franklin and Mansfield’s Ciaran Connolly.

MacLean took a 2-0 lead into the second round and regained the lead with a takedown after Connolly’s reversal knotted up the scores. The final round was the loudest that the crowd and the two benches got (by far) as Connolly pulled even again with another reversal and looked like he might have the upper hand in the match, until an escape inside the final 15 seconds earned MacLean a hard-fought 5-4 win.

“A couple guys stepped into the lineup, we bumped a couple kids in there and they won,” said Collace. “The kids wrestled hard in practice, the conditioning is good, their confidence is building…but we still haven’t won anything. We’ve got some stuff to work on.”

Mansfield coach Mark DiSanto wrestled against Collace and Franklin during his high school career, so he knew what to expect from the Panthers on Wednesday.

He said, “They have a solid team all-around. Every single kid on that team is very good and they’ve had that for years. He’s a great coach, respect him a lot, I know him very well and they have a strong program. They work hard and it shows on the mat.”

Despite the final score, DiSanto took several positives away from the meet. “The final score is what it is,” he said, “but we take each match one at a time and see how each individual did. We’re in the right direction. Kids are fighting off their back and that’s what we like to see.”

Jayden Curley got Mansfield its first points of the night with an 8-2 win at 161 pounds and then freshman Vinnie Holmes continued his stellar rookie campaign with a 17-1 tech at 170 that made the score 41-8.

“I can count on him to go out there and wrestle a good match,” said DiSanto of Holmes. “He works his tail off and he’s got a bright future ahead of him. It’s good to see him continue to win.”

Evan Hernandez and Bruce Johnson had back-to-back pins for Franklin at 182 and 195 and Jack Coughlin came from behind with five points in the third round to beat Ford DelVecchio at 220. Brian Perry closed out the dual meet with a 12-5 win at 285, capping off an impressive night for the Panthers.

“We practice hard every day, even the day before [a meet],” said Collace. “I don’t believe in go easy the day before. If you do things right the day before than it carries over to the match.”

He added that Franklin was looking forward to the Hockomock Championships on Saturday. Collace said, “If you want to be an all-star it comes from the league championship and it’s been pretty competitive. The league has gotten better and you can see, Mansfield is going to be a good team. They’re going to give us payback in a couple years.”

Mansfield took home the team title at the Cape Cod Invitational over the weekend and DiSanto is counting on that to carry over into this weekend’s league meet.

He said, “We’re coming off a good tournament at the Cape Cod Invitational, so I think we can take that momentum from winning that tournament and I think they can take that experience into Hocks…rather than tonight.”

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Mansfield Rallies in Middle Weights to Edge Canton

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Senior Stephen Healy picked up an important pin in the 138-pound weight class to help Mansfield turn around an early deficit and beat Canton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Early in Wednesday night’s dual meet in the Canton High gym, the Bulldogs looked at home on the brand new mat, winning four matches in a row and taking the lead over visiting Mansfield heading into the 138-pound weight class.

Canton’s Max Gallagher had the lead after the opening round and seemed to have control of the match in the second with a 5-2 advantage on Mansfield senior Stephen Healy. The match and possibly the whole dual meet turned in an instant when Healy squirmed out of a hold and flipped Gallagher. He went from the edge of being pinned to winning the match and earning six points for the Hornets.

When the ref slapped the mat, the Hornets bench exploded out of its seats to celebrate the turn in momentum. Mansfield won 145 at a walk over and then took four of the next five matches, three of them by pin, to seal the victory. Canton would earn pins in the final two matches of the night but the Hornets walked away with a 37-34 victory.

“Stephen Healy really stands out,” said Mansfield coach Mark DiSanto. “He’s a senior who has worked his butt off and he came through big for us. That was a big match, it was probably one of the differences.”

Antonio Sevastos started off the night with a 2-0 victory at 106 pounds to put Mansfield ahead 3-0, but the hosts went on a roll with four straight wins to take control. Justin Dickie had a second round pin at 113, Harry Carter won 8-2 at 120, Eddie Marinilli just held on long enough to edge Will Stratton 3-2 at 126, and Anis Chakir rolled to a 12-4 major win at 132 for a 16-3 lead.

“We had a couple matchup issues,” said Canton coach Brian Caffelle, “and honestly we thought we were going to steal one in particular. We had a good lead, we were feeling good, and saying to ourselves, okay if we win this match then we can really seal the deal early on.”

Healy found a way to pull out his match and after the Hornets won by forfeit at 145 the lead was down to just one point. Although it is difficult to overcome a missing weight class, Canton bounced right back with a second round pin by Joey Pacitti on a big reversal.

“I stress that regardless of what happens, we’re giving up six but we still have to go out there and wrestle well enough to make up for it,” Caffelle explained. “You can’t use that as an excuse.”

Sophomore George Glaropolous got a first round pin at 160 that got Mansfield back to a one-point deficit at 22-21 and then his classmate Jayden Curley pulled off a big win at 170 to give the Hornets their first lead of the night.

Curley battled Canton senior Brandon Lentol and the pair traded near falls in a high-scoring opening round and Curley took control in the second, building an 18-6 lead. But in the third round Lentol started to get back into the match, cutting the lead to 10 and then as the horn sounded he seemed on the edge of putting Curley on his back only to have time run out.

It was a big win for the younger wrestler, particularly because he was one of several Hornets who had to move up a weight class for the dual meet. Freshman Vinnie Holmes was another who bumped up and he rolled to a first round pin at 182.

“Right now I think everyone is focused one match at a time and for the team,” said DiSanto. “Whatever us coaches ask them to do they’re going to do. If we ask for them to bump up, they’re going to bump up and they like that challenge.”

Shane Cremmen sealed the victory for Mansfield with two matches remaining, getting a first round pin to push the lead to 37-22. Mark Whalen (220) and Nick Matt (285) ended the meet on a high note for the Bulldogs with back-to-back pins.

“We’re still trying to learn to win on a consistent level and we’re right there. I think we’re right on the cusp of doing great things,” said Caffelle.

He added, “We’re right there and it’s something we can build on. This is going to sting a little bit but you’d rather have these matches early on in the season because it’s going to pay off when we have a real dogfight in sectionals or when we really start going into the Davenport.”

With the win, Mansfield improved to 6-1 on the season, which is just one shy of the win total for the Hornets in all of 2015-16. This even more impressive considering the vast majority of the roster is underclassmen.

“It’s a big win for the team,” said DiSanto. “We take this match, enjoy tonight and get right back to work tomorrow, but overall the success that we’ve had is fantastic. Everyone is just coming together and they’re focused on team first.”

Mansfield will try to keep its momentum in a Super-Quad at Plymouth South before the prestigious Marshfield Tournament. Canton will head to the Lowell Tournament next week, which is one of the top tournaments in the state year-in, year-out.