GREAT BARRINGTON -- The Mount Greylock wrestling team saw its four-year run as the premier program in Western Massachusetts come to a close at the Western Massachusetts Division III tournament on Saturday.
However, with a third-place finish, the future looks even brighter for the Mounties.
Seventh-grader Jude Rorke could be the leader of the pack for years to come. He wrestled at 100 pounds in the tournament -- an exhibition weight class -- and won the title.
Senior Ross Jackson was the only other Greylock grappler to make it to the finals. He lost the 182-pound title on a 5-4 decision. Sabis' Tyler Popec was able to challenge Ross in ways he hadn't been this season.
"He got me on the bottom, and I haven't really been there this season," Jackson said. "I have to really work on that."
Dean Tech won the team title, with Hampshire taking second. The Mounties finished third. The Mounties sat in second place entering the finals, but Hampshire had three wrestlers in the finals -- all of whom won a title.
Greylock will send seven others to the state meet on Tuesday. The top four wrestlers in each weight class qualify for the tournament. Upperclassmen Mitch Graves, CJ Lillie and Johnny Colon all advanced to states. Sophomore Travis Hilchey, freshmen David O'Brien and Cayman Mead qualified, as well. Eighth-grader Devon Pelletier also will make the trip.
"I'm really pleased," Greylock coach Ray Miro said. "Coming into the year you look at a lot of things, if you told me we would be third in Western Mass. ... And we almost took second, but it didn't happen. Hampshire was a better tournament team than us. But I have to be pleased, we have a lot of young kids. I'm pleased as heck that they'll all get [state meet] experience."
Rorke made his run to the exhibition title from the No. 1 seed. He recorded a 30-second pin fall in the quarterfinals. He then downed Sabis' Josh McMullen in an 8-5 decision.
His title win came in a victory over Mount Everett's Pat Fosby. The duo wrestled to a 2-2 tie after one period and Rorke scored three points in the second and then hung on for the win. He won 5-4 over his in-county rival.
"I just used all my energy," an exhausted Rorke said after the match. "If I wasn't working as hard as I was in practice I don't know what would have happened. I probably would have lost. It's just such a mental and physical sport."
It concludes Rorke's season. There is no 100-pound weight class at the state level. Rorke spent most of the regular season wrestling at 106 pounds. He was successful at 106, but the fact that he weighs in anywhere from 93-98 made the coaching staff not want to wrestle him against heavier competition.
"Jude is very enthusiastic, he's a bright kid, he's a good student, a good person and he's got some talent," Miro said. "He needs to grow a little bit because he is so tiny. But Hopefully he'll grow and move to 106 for us.
"I think it's good for him being in this scenery and seeing what it's like and what it takes. He can watch the other kids and really learn because there were some really good matches today."
Graves took third at 145 pounds after losing a difficult match to Monument's Alex Dupont in the semifinals. Lillie took fourth place at 136.
From there, Greylock's youth stole the show. Pelletier took third at 120 pounds. Hilchey was the third-place winner at 126. Mead wrapped up a third-place finish at 132 pounds. O'Brien finished in fourth after suffering a shoulder injury in the third-fourth place bout at 152 pounds. His status for the state meet is unknown.
Colon -- a first year wrestler -- also qualified with a fourth-place finish.
Hilchey and Graves both lost in the semifinals before bouncing back to finish third. Hilchey was defeated in overtime by Sabis' Jehu Barbee.
Graves fell to county foe Alex Dupont of Monument in a first-period pin. Moments before he was pinned, Graves and the Greylock coaching staff thought Dupont was the one pinned. But it wasn't called and Dupont reversed it on Graves to get the victory.
"My last two matches I was pretty happy with. I came back and wrestled a bit smarter," Graves said. "I just knew I had to forget about [the loss] and get the job done and look forward to states."
While the Mounties didn't take home the title, they still took home some hardware on the afternoon. The referees present a sportsmanship award each year to one team and they chose Greylock as the recipient this season.
"I'm really pleased with the sportsmanship award," Miro said. "I'm not trying to brag, but we do a pretty good job as a team and a program. [This award] signifies that we're not a bunch of jerks when we're doing that. That's what we try to teach the kids."
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