Kyle Brunelle, Brody Wood capture first wrestling titles, lead Franklin Tech to second at WMass

  • Franklin Tech's Brody Wood celebrates his win over Mohawk's Mason Biagini in the 170-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Above, Franklin Tech's Kyle Brunelle, right, competes against Taconic’s Zach Mathes in the 138-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Below, right, Tech's Brody Wood celebrates his win over Mohawk's Mason Biagini in the 170-pound final. Below, left, Frontier's Jackie Phong, left, competes against Taconic’s Isiaha Hartman-Caesar in the 285-pound final. Brunelle, Wood and Phong captured championships in their respective weight classes. Staff PhotoS/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Jackie Phong, left, competes against Taconic’s Isiaha Hartman-Caesar in the 285-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Franklin Tech's Kyle Brunelle wins against Taconic's Zach Mathesin in the 138-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Franklin Tech's Kyle Brunelle, right, competes against Taconic’s Zach Mathesin in the 138-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Franklin Tech's Kyle Brunelle, left, competes against Taconic’s Zach Mathesin in the 138-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Franklin Tech's Brody Wood, left, competes against Mohawk's Mason Biagini in the 170-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Franklin Tech's Brody Wood, left, competes against Mohawk's Mason Biagini in the 170-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Franklin Tech's Brody Wood, left, competes against Mohawk's Mason Biagini in the 170-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Franklin Tech's Brody Wood wins against Mohawk's Mason Biagini in the 170-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Franklin Tech's Brody Wood, left, embraces Mohawk's Mason Biagini after their 170-pound match during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Franklin Tech's Brody Wood, right, competes against Mohawk's Mason Biagini in the 170-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Jackie Phong, left, competes against Taconic’s Isiaha Hartman-Caesar in the 285-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Jackie Phong, left, competes against Hampshire Regional's Angus KaneLong in the 285-pound semi-final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Nate Austin, right, competes against Taconic's Shawn O'Shea in the 195-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Franklin Tech's Josh Brunelle, right, competes against Taconic's Ryan Scott at 120-pounds during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Franklin Tech's Walker Picard, right, competes against Hampden Charter's Romelo Medina in the 220-pound final during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Franklin Tech's Ayden Stacy competes against Pathfinder's Trent Royalty at 195-pounds during the Western Mass. Division 3 championships Saturday afternoon in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 2/10/2019 7:02:26 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Kyle Brunelle and Brody Wood already shared something in common this season as both entered the 100-win club for the Franklin County Technical School wrestling team. On Saturday, they each joined another elite club. That of western Mass. champions.

Brunelle and Wood each went unbeaten to wrestle their way through their respective weight classes to become first-time Western Mass. Division 3 champions and help the Eagles to a second-place finish during the championships at Franklin Tech.

The Eagles’ duo was joined by Frontier’s Jackie Phong as area champions, while three other area wrestlers fell in the finals to finish in second place. Every wrestler finishing in the top four qualified for next weekend’s Division 3 State Tournament at Wakefield High School, while the fifth-place finishers from Saturday will serve as the alternate.

Brunelle, the top seed, opened his tournament at 138 pounds with back-to-back pins in less than one minute to punch his ticket to the finals. In the championship bout, Brunelle jumped out to a 4-1 lead against Taconic High School’s Zach Mathes after the first period. Mathes cut the deficit to 4-2 with an escape in the second, before a scary moment for Brunelle when he got caught in an awkward hold and began hollering in pain as the match was halted for an injury timeout. Brunelle shook it off and went back to work, taking his 4-2 lead into the third period, which set up a wild finish. Brunelle appeared to be well in control when he scored a reversal and near fall in the third to push his lead to 9-2 with 1 minute, 10 seconds to go, but Mathes notched a reversal to cut the deficit to 9-4. Brunelle was awarded a point due to unnecessary roughness by Mathes with 40 seconds to go, but Mathes came right back and suddenly got Brunelle in a compromising position on his back with 20 seconds to go, as Brunelle narrowly fought off getting pinned before turning over and holding on for the 10-7 victory.

“Really, it was just don’t give up the pin, I was up big, so give up two (points) and work your butt off and try to stand up,” Brunelle said of the ending.

The junior said that after finishing second at WMass last year, it felt nice to check off being a WMass champ in the same year he also hit the 100-win plateau.

“It’s been a great year. I worked hard and it paid off,” he said. “Lot of thanks to the coaches and the people around me, great teammates, my parents especially.”

Like Brunelle, Wood also was looking for his first WMass title to add to his list of accomplishments, which included him hitting the 100-win mark. The top seed faced Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s Mason Biagini in the finals at 170 pounds. Both wrestlers went 3-0 en route to making the finals and Wood took a 2-0 lead in the first period with a takedown. In the second, Wood scored a late reversal to double his lead to 4-0, and in the third he added an escape and a takedown to beat Biagini, 7-0.

The victory capped off quite a story for Wood, who finished fifth at WMass last season but was focused to try and win a title this winter. His hopes were nearly dashed when he suffered a torn ACL during football season, but he worked his way back.

“I put a lot of work in in the offseason, and I had to do extensive physical therapy for my torn ACL,” Wood explained. “I put a lot of work in, this is what I love, the sport I love. I played football to get in shape for this and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from accomplishing my goals.”

As for his counterpart, Wood said that the No. 2 seeded Biagini gave him a great battle as he always does.

“Every time I see him, he always puts up a fight. He is a very talented wrestler,” Wood said.

Franklin Tech had a chance for a third title on the day with second-seeded Walker Picard at 220 pounds, who was facing top-seeded Romelo Medina of Hampden Charter School. Medina had been injured for much of the season and stripped Picard of the top seed earlier in the tournament when the weight was reseeded, and Medina lived up to that No. 1 ranking as he pinned Picard in 49 seconds.

Medina’s victory gave Hampden Charter a 154-152 lead for second place in the team competition, which left things down to Franklin Tech heavyweight Cameron Tuttle, who was wrestling for fifth place at 285. Tuttle wound up scoring a first-period pin over Granby’s Isaiah Mejias to take four points and jump the Eagles into second place.

“Western Mass runner-up is a tremendous accomplishment for this team,” Franklin Tech coach Joe Gamache said. “It was our best finish as a team ever in the sectional tournament and we did it with only 10 wrestlers. These kids set up for this tournament, performed extremely well in it, and then cleaned it all up after. I am extremely proud of this group for all that they have accomplished this season and can’t wait to see how we compete next weekend at the Divisional Tournament.”

Frontier’s Phong was the third champion from Franklin County as he closed out the championship meet against Taconic’s Isiaha Hartman-Caesar. The match went back and forth, as Phong took a 3-2 lead after one, but Hartman-Caesar came back to take a 5-3 lead early in the second. Phong then scored an escape and a takedown later in the second, and he turned the takedown into a pin to end the match 1:34 into the second period. The sophomore joined Wood and Brunelle as first-time champions.

“It felt very good to finish it off with a pin,” Phong said moments after his win. “It feels amazing to win a Western Mass. title and to get this as a sophomore, I want another two.”

Phong’s teammate Nate Austin also had a chance to win a title at 195 pounds where he faced Taconic’s Sean O’Shea, the second seed who had just earned his 100th career win with a semifinal victory. The two wrestled to a scoreless first period, before O’Shea earned an escape and a takedown in the second to take a 3-0 lead. Austin got a point back late in the second with an escape, and then closed to within one point in the third when he picked up a point late for O’Shea stalling. That was all Austin could get as he fell 3-2 to finish second in the weight.

The six local wrestlers in the finals will each wrestle at the Division 3 State Tournament next weekend and will be joined by five other locals who finished third or fourth. Franklin Tech’s Josh Brunelle will join his brother Kyle after placing third in 120 pounds after he won over Duggan’s Ariel Escalante, who was disqualified for biting Brunelle in the third-place match. Colin Pettis also picked up a third-place finish at 132 pounds with his 3-1 victory over Logan Dubois of Southwick.

Frontier’s Ovidiu Nichita earned a third-place finish at 113 pounds with his 18-4 major decision victory over Granby’s Joseph Deprey. Jake Mattson took fourth at 138 pounds when he was pinned in the second period by Sabis’ Xavier Reyes, while Ito McMillan took fourth at 152 pounds after getting pinned by South Hadley’s Alex Schenker in the consolation finals.

Mohawk’s Dylan Wooldridge (160) and Franklin Tech’s Ayden Stacy (195) and Tuttle (285) will each serve as alternates for Division 3 States after placing fifth, while Mohawk’s Jaden Moore (145) and Franklin Tech’s Noah Fuess (152) and Tim Fritz (160) finished sixth.




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