Five Berkshire County high school wrestlers have a chance to win a state championship today.
Each of the four county schools with a program -- Monument Mountain, Mount Everett, Mount Greylock and Taconic -- saw at least one wrestler win twice in his championship bracket at the MIAA Division III state tournament at Wakefield. The final day of wrestling begins today at 12:30 p.m., with the championship matches beginning at 5 p.m.
Taconic’s Travis Kuni (160 pounds) and Tajaye Davis (285) are in the championship semis, along with Monument’s Jonah Christianson (220), Everett’s Bradley Lupiani (113) and Greylock’s Ross Jackson (182). Kuni and Lupiani won Western Mass. D-III championships in their weight classes Saturday at Monument.
"States is definitely a lot tougher," Lupiani said Tuesday. "Everyone’s a good wrestler. You’ve got to wrestle a lot smarter."
Lupiani (32-1) earned a 4-0 decision over Cohasset’s Harry Helbock in the first round Tuesday before pinning Wayland’s Cole Elias in 3 minutes, 9 seconds. He’ll face Danvers’ Chris Davis, the Northern Mass. runner-up, in today’s semifinals.
"He looks solid," Lupiani said. "He’s going to be a tough match, but I think I’ll be able to [win]. He had good hips and he was good at takedowns."
Kuni (30-9) beat Wayland’s Chris Oyola 9-2 in the first round and pinned Wakefield’s
Kuni said he’s been able to scramble well and stay on top, but the challenges so far have been identical to those in sectionals.
"It’s all up to you how hard you make it," he said.
Davis, who injury-defaulted in the 285-pound sectional championship match, rebounded Tuesday with a 30-second pin of Minuteman’s John Kelly and a 19-3 technical fall over Central Mass. champion Stephen Hudson of Norton. Today, he’ll face Southern Mass. champ Kevin Beane of Pembroke in the semifinals.
"I was just locking up, knowing what I had to do," Davis said of his semifinal win. "He wasn’t ready, so I just [went] after it."
Taconic coach Matt Chamberlain expected this kind of success from his wrestlers.
"Travis ... dominated," he said. "Tajaye does what Tajaye does. He threw the kids around, like we expect. ... If he gets that [throw] locked tight on you, you’re going for a ride."
Jackson (42-5), the Western Mass. runner-up at 182, pinned his way to the semis Tuesday. He finished Melrose’s Zeke Vainer in 1:03, and pinned Central Mass. champ Kevin Kelley of Wayland at the end of the second period.
Today, Jackson meets Southern Mass. champ John Kay of Hingham in the semifinals.
Christianson (30-5) was third at Western Mass. in the 220-pound class. He started the day with a pin of Pembroke’s Eddie Haen in 2:36, and followed that with a pin of Melrose’s Joe Squizzero in 5:35.
"Smart and under control," Monument coach Gordie Soule said. "He took advantage of his opportunities."
Christianson faces Northern Mass. champ Tom Arsenault of Lynnfield/North Reading in the semifinals.
"We know that he’s strong," Soule said of Arsenault. "We feel pretty good about our chances. You’ve got to wrestle the match."
Greylock and Monument still have wrestlers in the consolation brackets today. The Spartans’ Mark Leon-Duque, Western Mass. runner-up Saturday, is still alive in the 160 bracket, while Greylock has Travis Hilchey (126), Mitch Graves (145) and Johnny Colon (170) in wrestlebacks.
Graves and Colon both lost in the quarterfinals. Graves entered the tournament as the third place winner in Western Mass. and Colon was fourth.