Natick’s Wrestlers shine; Ashland’s Gillis 4th at N.E. Meet
Natick coach Bob Anniballi guided the Redhawks to lots of success at the wrestling tourneys.
By KEN HAMWEY
Staff Sports Writer
Natick had four wrestlers compete at the New England Championships, and although none placed, the Redhawks had plenty of candidates who battled effectively at the Sectional, State, and All-State.
The Redhawks had a record-setting post-season, putting 10 wrestlers in the Sectional finals where six of them became champs — Shaun McLaughlin, Sammy Papadopoulos, Michael Anniballi, David Seiche, Bennett Sonneborn, and Alex Giberson. Natick finished first at the Division 1 West Sectional.
At the Division 1 State championships, Natick sent 12 boys to that tourney and 11 of them earned medals. Then at All-States, the Redhawks managed to have four of their eight qualifiers advance to the prestigious New England tourney in Providence, R.I.
At the New Englands, McLaughlin (126), who was an alternate, lost two matches by one point. Tucker Vician (160) posted a 2-2 record, and both Jake Adelmann (170) and Sonneborn (195) had 3-2 records. Wrestlers who placed 1-6 at the New Englands earned medals.
Coach Bob Anniballi had high praise for his Redhawks at the conclusion of the four competitions.
“Sonneborn was our best performer finishing in the top eight at the New Englands,’’ said Anniballi. “Adelmann capped a terrific career. He was a four-year starter, a three-time captain, registered 100-plus career wins and was a three-time state place-winner. We had success at the All-States (third) and we finished second to St. John’s Prep at the States. We started off by winning the Division 1 West Sectional.’’
Ashland qualified three wrestlers for the New Englands but only two — senior Matt Gillis (182) and junior Patrick DesLauriers (220) — competed. Gillis finished fourth and DesLauriers, who went 2-2, did not place. Anton Puhach (170) did not wrestle because of an injury.
“Matt is our first wrestler to place at the New Englands since 1985,’’ said coach Pete Zacchilli. “His impact on our program has been monumental. He will be dearly missed.
DesLauriers competed at a high level through the postseason and we’re looking forward to what the future holds for him.’’
King Philip’s Will Conniff defeated Calvin Kennett of Middlebury, Vt., at the New Englands but his two losses in other bouts ended any hope of his placing.
Conniff (170) had success in the month-long post-season, capturing second-place honors at both the Sectional and the States. He finished sixth at All-States.
“I’m proud of my efforts,’’ said Conniff. “I gave 100 percent against elite competition. A lot of hard work went into preparing for the four tournaments.’’
Holliston’s Anthony Touchette did not place, finishing the New England tourney with a 1-2 record in the 106 class. “Anthony had a fantastic year and I’m extremely proud of him and all he accomplished this season,’’ said coach Mike Capobianco.
Natick High qualified eight wrestlers to the All-State Tournament, then managed to have four advance to the New England Tournament. Wrestlers placing 1-6 at All-states qualify for the New England Tournament.
Junior Bennett Sonneborn (195), who lost to Dennis Cha of Arlington, 8-4, placed second, which was the best finish for the Redhawks. Others advancing were senior Jake Adelmann (170) who placed fourth; junior Tucker Vician (160) took fifth; and senior Dave Seiche (182) was sixth.
“We had another outstanding showing at the All-States, placing third (90.5 points),’’ said Anniballi. “We were three points behind second-place Minnechaug.’’
Anniballi was quick to laud the efforts of Natick’s place-winners.
“Jake has placed in the State Tournament three times (no individual tournament last year),’’ he said. “In a very deep weight class, Tucker had to fight hard to qualify for All-States. He placed fifth in Division 1 and then remarkedly placed fifth at the All States. Bennet had a terrific run to the All-State finals. He only weighs 180 but excels in the 195 class. Dave is injured and will not participate in the N.E. Tournament.
Ashland coach Pete Zacchilli labeled the Clockers’ eighth-place finish at the All-State meet as “a great weekend.’’ And, with three wrestlers advancing to the New Englands, the coach emphasized that “we’re right there with the best of the best.’’
Matt Gillis (182) and Patrick DesLauriers (220) each took second-place honors and Anton Puhach was fifth at 170. Gillis lost to Joshua Cordio of Nashoba on a fall at 1:29; DesLauriers bowed to Hampton Kaye-Kuter of Milford by decision, 12-8; and Puhach lost to Desmond McLaughlin of Springfield Central by decision, 8-1.
“Anton had a great All-State tournament,’’ Zacchilli said. “He’s developed great mat awareness and continues to learn, making in-match adjustments at an advanced level for a freshman. Patrick can wrestle with anyone. If he can find a certain level of consistency, he will be a tough out at the New Englands. Matt is the ultimate competitor. He out-competes, out-conditions, and out-wills his opponents. It’s really exciting to watch him wrestle. With the way he approaches each match, he can beat anyone who steps on that line.’’
Anthony Touchette was Holliston’s only wrestler to advance to the New Englands, finishing fourth at All-states at 106. The Panthers placed 42nd.
“We wrestled tough overall and competed in each match against the best of the best in each weight class in all of Massachusetts,’’ said coach Mike Capobianco. “I’m extremely proud of Anthony and the tournament he had. He wrestled very well and it was awesome to see all his hard work pay off. His intensity and compete level were fun to watch.’’
Also competing for the Panthers were Zach Robinson at 138 pounds and Michael DeRubeis at 120.
King Philip placed 29th overall and has Will Conniff (170) moving on to the New Englands. Conniff placed sixth at All States.
“At this point, Will is our only place-finisher and the only wrestler still competing in the post-season,’’ said coach John Adams. “He remains focused, positive, and confident and is striving toward his goal of reaching the podium.’’
Conniff finished second at the Sectional and State tourneys. KP’s other wrestlers at All-states were Daniel Nineve, Hunter Hastings, Michael Gorman and Colby Cloutier. “Gorman, Cloutier, Hastings, and Nineve all wrestled their hearts out,’’ Adams noted. “They left it all out on the mat and battled from whistle to whistle. It was an honor to be in their corner.’’
Franklin had four wrestlers vying for a slot at the New Englands but none of them placed at All-states. Tim O’Leary (138) and Riley Carlucci (113) each won two matches and Nolan Sheridan (195) and Alex Foley (160) each won one.
The Panthers finished 30th in the team standings.
“The boys wrestled well,’’ said coach Carmen Colace. “We didn’t have any upset losses and I’m proud of their effort. The All-State tourney is a challenging level.’’
Natick sent 12 out of 14 wrestlers to the Division I State tourney and 11 of them earned medals. That number broke the previous Mass. State record of 10 set by Quabbin, St. John’s Prep, and Natick.
Wrestlers placing 1-6 earn berths to the All-state tourney and those finishing seventh go as alternates.
Shaun McLaughlin (126) and Jake Adelmann (170) both finished second; Bennett Sonneborn (195) took third; and Louis Linton (106) and Dave Seiche (182) finished fourth. Jake Ashman (138) and Tucker Vician (160) placed fifth; Sam Papadopoulos (145) was sixth; and Liam Musante (132), Michael Anniballi (152) and Alex Geierson (220) earned alternate status.
The Redhawks tallied 164.5 points and finished second to St. John’s Prep, which had 198.5.
“We brought 12 boys who all grew up in Natick and have always attended Natick Public Schools,’’ said Anniballi. “All 12 scored team points and 11 placed. Central Catholic and St. John’s Prep have wrestlers from multiple towns and states on their team. Essentially, both are regional all-star teams. So, for Natick to get past Central Catholic and chase St. John’s is quite the accomplishment.’’
Ashland’s Matt Gillis (182) was first in the Division 3 sectionals and he followed that effort with another first at the State tourney. He defeated Michael Toppan of Gloucester by decision, 13-5.
Other Clockers advancing to All-States were Adrian Guzman (152) who took third; Anton Puhach (170) and Patrick DesLauriers (220), both fourth-place finishers; and Lucas Ribera (120) who claimed sixth.
“Matt is the ultimate competitor,’’ said coach Pete Zacchilli. “He suffocates his opponents with tempo and pace and when you have the ability to do that for a full six minutes, that is special.’’
Ashland finished fourth with 96.5 points, a rank that Zacchilli felt could have been better.
“I was disappointed in the finish, but proud we battled back,’’ he said. “We were a hair shy of what we went there to get, a State title. Winning the State Duals was an outstanding accomplishment, but we wanted them both. We needed to pull out one more semifinal win to get it done but unfortunately we came up a little short. It was great to see all the kids who lost in the semi's come back and win their next match. That showed a lot of character and I think sets us up to be right in the mix again next year.’’
King Philip had five wrestlers place at the Division 2 States. They included Will Conniff (second place at 170); Daniel Nineve (third at 285); Hunter Hastings (fourth at 195)); Michael Gorman (fifth at 145); and Colby Cloutier (fifth at 152).
The Warriors finished seventh (93.5 points) and were able to garner more points than Hockomock League foes Sharon and North Attleboro, who took first and second place, respectively, at the Sectional.
“Having five wrestlers advance to All-States is the most ever in the program’s history, said coach John Adams. “And, it was satisfying to finish ahead of Sharon and North Attleboro.’’
Holliston brought only four wrestlers to the Division 3 States but still placed three and finished eighth (72.9) in the standings.
Anthony Touchette captured a State title at 106 by defeating Kevin Riberio of Keefe Tech, 14-4. “Anthony dominated the competition all weekend,’’ said coach Mike Capobianco.
Also qualifying for the All-state meet were Michael DeRubeis (120) and Zach Robinson (138) who both finished third. Matt Amante went 1-2 at 126 for the tournament.
“We didn’t lose a match on day two,’’ Capobianco emphasized. “I was so proud of how our kids wrestled. They competed and outlasted some of their opponents due to shear will and heart in some of those matches. They left everything they had on those mats and as a coach that’s all you can ask for. For us to bring only four wrestlers and come home with a champ, two thirds and finish eighth as a team was more than I could have asked for.’’
Franklin placed four wrestlers at the States — Tim O’Leary (138) was fourth and Riley Carlucci (113) and Nolan Sheridan (195) were sixth. Alex Foley at 160 finished seventh, giving him alternate status.
“We wrestled well and won a lot of matches,’’ said Carmen Colace who’s coached the Panthers for 40 years. “We hope to place some of these wrestlers at All-States and get them to the New Englands.’’
Alex Francassa (145), labeled by Colace as “our best wrestler’’ would have been in the mix for a State title but he was unable to wrestle after undergoing surgery for appendicitis.
Norwood, which had an 11-7 record overall in dual-meets, had its two Division 3 sectional champions — Nate Hsu (145) and Coleman Keady (138) — finish fourth at the State tourney. Both advanced to the All-State meet but did not place.
Other wrestlers who turned in solid efforts for Norwood were T.J. Wyman (220), a fourth-place finisher at the Sectional, and Ahmed Elalfy (195), who was fifth at the Sectional and eighth at the States.