Walpole Wrestling Fighting to Get Back to .500

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The Rebels’s 126 pounder being proclaimed victor against Brookline.

Justin Rouhana

The Rebels's 126 pounder being proclaimed victor against Brookline.
The Rebels’s 126 pounder being proclaimed victor against Brookline (Photo/Wassel Family).

Walpole Wrestling came into this winter sports season with the expectation of a team that, for the first time since 2010, would be a major Bay State Conference and Herget Title Contender. So far, however, the team has been struggling to get into a groove, losing two home meets in a row to Framingham and Natick on December 19 and December 23 resepectively. Their current record is 6-8, putting them just below .500 as a team. Additionally, in the Rebel’s home dual meet against Braintree on January 9, they would get the win in the heavyweight bout to win the match thanks to senior Armen Andonin who is a prime example that although the team as a whole is not meeting expectations, there are a few wrestlers who are indeed meeting and exceeding everyone’s expectations.

When Walpole wrestled the Framingham Flyers on December 19, the Rebels fell to them in a Flyer dominated battle. The final score once again reflected the majority of the team was pinned in the loss and the Rebels looked as if they were “wrestling scared” — a phrase Pacelli has used often this season. The final score of the meet was 55-15 Framhingham.

 On December 23 against Natick, a traditional powerhouse team, almost all of the team’s losses in the Varsity lineup were by means of pin. The final score of the meet was 52-22 Natick. Head Coach Devin Pacelli said, “Our little guys get pinned and that puts a lot of pressure on our guys up top in the heavier weight classes. Normally, a pin here or there up top doesn’t much matter, but when a bunch of our little guys get pinned, it definitely does.”

Even though Natick is traditionally a very experienced team, this season Walpole had more experience than the Red Hawks. Senior Captain Noah Kung said, “I think part of the reason we have been struggling to win matches even though we have a pretty experienced team is because a lot of our guys in the middle of the lineup either are injured or quit.”

The Rebels, on an individual basis however, are having flashes of grand success. At the Marshfield Holiday tournament, one that is often compared on a level of difficulty to that of a post-season tournament, the Rebels had six out of fourteen varsity athletes place in the tournament. Senior Captains Noah Kung and Trevor Wassel both took second place in the tournament. Senior Captain Kyle Robbins took sixth place and classmates Armen Andonian and Garrett Barry took fourth and seventh, respectively. Additionally, junior Joe Delaney took seventh place. Pacelli said, “We are a very good tournament team, we need to translate that into dual meets.”

After the break, the Rebels squared up against an evenly matched Braintree team at home in which they would ultimately win an extremely close match which came down to senior heavyweight Armen Andonian. Andonian went into his bout, the last one of the night, knowing the team score was 28-33 Braintree.

Andonian said after the match, “I knew that it was going to come down to my match, I knew I had to pin that kid.” Andonian did exactly just that and the Rebels won the dual meet 34-33, their first win at home this season. Andonian began the match aware of his opponent outweighing him by nearly 40 pounds, a common occurence for his weight class. He wrestled smart and avoided being thrown in the first period and then immediately went to work in the second period. He would ultimately hit his signature “peterson roll” and pin his opponent, winning the meet for his team.

Hoping to ride that momentum into the weekend, the Rebels went after Stoughton and New Bedford in a tri-meet the following Saturday, January 11. Once again, pins in the inexperienced middle of the line-up hurt the team. They lost to both New Bedford and Stoughton the final scores being 57-18 and 44-34 respectively.

On Tuesday of this week, January 14, the Rebels traveled to Brookline High’s Tappen Gym to wrestle a dual meet in which the team would ultimately prevail. Even though the Rebels still suffered from “go to your back syndrome” (being pinned without much effort), they ultimately got the win (final score: 48-33 Walpole). Big pins came for the Rebels at 132 pounds, 195 pounds and heavyweight from seniors Garrett Barry, Captain Justin Rouhana and, Armen Andonian. Pacelli said, “Overall that was a decent dual meet.”

The Rebels record is currently 6-8.  The boys hope to take their momentum from this week into Saturday’s Weymouth Tournament in which they hope to see great success. Their next dual meet is against Wellesley, this Tuesday January 21.