WMass D3 Wrestling: Franklin Tech’s Kyle Brunelle wins title

  • Franklin Tech’s Kyle Brunelle, top, competes against Smith Vocational’s Joe Podolak in the 138-pound weight class Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech’s Kyle Brunelle, right, pins Smith Vocational’s Joe Podolak to win the 138-pound weight class Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech’s Kyle Brunelle wins over Smith Vocational’s Joe Podolak in the 138-pound weight class Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech’s Kyle Brunelle, top, competes against Smith Vocational’s Joe Podolak in the 138-pound weight class Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Payton Sladeski, top, competes against Mount Everett’s Nick Lupiani for a second place finish at 138 pounds Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech’s Josh Brunelle, top, works to pin Smith Voc’s Forrest McSweeney for a third place finish at 138 pounds Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech’s Josh Brunelle, top, competes against Smith Voc’s Forrest McSweeney for a third place finish at 138 pounds Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Tanner Finch, top, competes against Taconic’s Ryan Scott for a fourth place finish at 145 pounds Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech’s Peter Saladino after securing a third place finish at 126 pounds Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Ito McMillan, left, competes against Gateway’s Brett Bonenfant for a third place finish at 152 pounds Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Ito McMillan, top, competes against Gateway’s Brett Bonenfant for a third place finish at 152 pounds Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech’s Kyle Brunelle, front, competes against Smith Vocational’s Joe Podolak in the 138-pound weight class Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech’s Ethan Courchesne, right, competes against Mohawk’s Nate Wooldridge to secure a fifth place finish at 182 pounds Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Mohawk’s Ethan Bower, top, competes against Duggan’s Juan Dejesus for a fifth place finish at 220 pounds Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech coach Mike Aiken applauds Kyle Brunelle after his win over Smith Vocational’s Joe Podolak at 138 pounds Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech head coach Mike Aiken, right, congratulates Ethan Courchesne after his win over Mohawk’s Nate Wooldridge at 182 pounds Saturday during the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship hosted by Taconic High School in Pittsfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 2/15/2020 10:43:13 PM

PITTSFIELD — Franklin Tech’s Kyle Brunelle was on a mission Saturday at the Western Mass. Div. 3 wrestling championship at Taconic High School. 

The senior entered as the favorite and No. 1 seed at 138 pounds, and he didn’t disappoint.

After winning his first three matches via pinfall, Brunelle found himself in the finals, taking on Smith Vocational’s Joe Podolak.

Just before the final started, each wrestler participating in championship matches was called to the center of the mat to be recognized prior to competition. Brunelle wasn’t interested in waiting around, however as he quickly went back in between the bleachers and paced back and forth listening to music to get himself in the zone.

In the zone he was, as Brunelle held the advantage throughout the championship match but only gained a two-point advantage. With just under 10 seconds left in the second round, the senior flipped Podolak over and secured a pin with just three second remaining in the period to be crowned champion at 138 for the second year in a row.

“I was looking for a little turn, one of those cheap points,” Brunelle said. “He rolled the wrong way and I was able to stick him. It feels awesome. My adrenaline is pumping.” 

Brunelle was the lone local to place first at the Western Mass. meet on Saturday, and he entered the tournament with a great mindset and plan on how to repeat as a sectional champion.

“It’s all about how you wrestle,” Brunelle said. “You wrestle to the best of your potential in every match. I was feeling good going in. I was ready for it. I’ve been training hard.” 

Brunelle’s brother, Josh Brunelle, also had a stellar day on the mat. 

The sophomore won a match at 132 pounds then lost one to send him to the consolation bracket, but was able to work his way back to the podium. He picked up two more wins by pin to ultimately take home a third-place finish. 

“It was a good win,” Josh Brunelle said. “Our team’s having a good day, a lot of pins. It feels really good to move on (to the state tournament). I’ve been wrestling for six years now and to make it to states for the second time as a sophomore feels good.” 

It was a great day all around for the Eagles, which placed sixth as a team in the tournament.

Peter Saladino had a great day at 126 pounds, winning four matches including a pin against Quintin Pellegrino of Sabis to secure a third-place finish. 

“It was a good way to end the Western Mass. season,” Saladino said. “We’re having a good day. Most of us are placing.”

Ethan Courchesne secured a fifth-place finish at 182, leaving him as an alternate for the state tournament next week. The top four finishers in each weight class earn an automatic berth into the event, with fifth-place finishers nabbing alternate roles. Franklin Tech teammate Colin Pettis took sixth at 145. 

Frontier’s Payton Sladeski had himself a day at 106. 

The sophomore entered as the No. 3 seed in the bracket but exceeded expectations, winning three matches in a row to make it to the finals. He was pinned by top-seeded Nick Lupiani of Mount Everett in the championship match to settle for second.

“Moving on to states is all I wanted to do,” Sladeski said. “I want to work my way up to the finals, I don’t really care if I won or lost. I just wanted to make it to states and go from there.” 

This year was Sladeski’s first year on the mats, and he said he grew a significant amount since the beginning of the season.

“Tons,” Sladeski said on how much he’s improved. “From the bottom not getting pinned, to neutral to top, I’ve even worked in tilts. My goal is to now make it to finals at states.”

Two other Red Hawks qualified for next weekend’s state tournament, set to be held at Wayland High School. Ito McMillan secured a third-place finish at 152 and Tanner Finch came in fourth at 145 to help Frontier to an 11th-place finish as a team.

McMillan was slightly disappointed in the third-place finish, knowing he made one mistake against Mount Everett’s Jerimiah Tomascak in the semifinal round to prevent him from earning a spot in the 152-pound final. He fought back to dominate in the third-place match with a 13-2 decision over Gateway’s Brett Bonenfant.

“Main goal is to get ready for states,” McMillan said. “I would have liked to make it to the finals but I did something stupid and got caught. I’m working on it for next week to make sure it doesn’t happen. I didn’t finish my shots quick enough. That can’t happen in states.”

Mohawk came in 17th as a team, with Ethan Bower earning three victories to lead the way with a fifth-place finish at 220 pounds.

Dylan Wooldridge placed sixth at 170 while Nate Wooldridge lost to Courchesne at 182 to settle for sixth.

With only six wrestlers competing, getting three into the final set of matches was something the Warriors were proud of on Saturday. 

“Half of us got to the fifth-sixth (place) matches so we all had a chance at alternate,” Nate Wooldridge said. “Bumping up a weight class and a half, I’m proud of that.”




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