Seniors Leads Wrestling to Exceptional Post-Season

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The Rebel’s Heavyweight poses atop the Sectional Championship podium after pinning Milford in double OT.

Justin Rouhana

The Rebel's Heavyweight poses atop the Sectional Championship podium after pinning Milford in double OT.
The Rebel’s Heavyweight poses atop the Sectional Championship podium after pinning Milford in double OT.(Photo/Wassel Family)

Although Walpole Wrestling suffered numerous early-season injuries, they bounced back in the post-season to be one of the most successful Walpole sports teams this winter. During the season, the Rebels finished 14-10 — almost the same record as the previous season’s 14-9 record; however, in the post-season, they peaked at the right time.  In total, the Rebels had three Sectional champions, four State Place-winners, and two All-State place-winners in their senior class.

Senior Captain Noah Kung said, “We had a pretty decent season even though we started out rough. We tried to carry our success into the post-season and have guys perform as an individual.”

Out of all the sectional place-winners, six moved on to States but ultimately only the seniors would place and progress to All-States.

At the Division 2 Central Sectionals on February 15, the Rebels had three Sectional Champions at 170 pounds, 220 pounds, and Heavyweight. Senior Captains Trevor Wassel and Noah Kung won the 170 and 220 pounds respectively,  while classmate Armen Andonian shook the entire Division 2 to its core by pinning senior Milford — and returning D2 State Champion and Central Sectional Champion — Grady DiAntino.  Andonian got his win by dramatically pinning his opponent just 45 seconds into double overtime.

After a reversed call on a take-down Andonian nearly had in the first OT, he knew he needed something big in the second.  Andonian said, “DiAntonio wrestles pretty similar to me. He is very good on the mat. I knew I needed to get a reversal to win in double OT.  The pin was just icing on the cake.”

Andonian’s classmate, Kung, had another OT win against Nashoba Regional’s sophomore 220 and returning Sectional Champion, Jake Kennedy. Kung — usually a take-down machine — struggled to bring his opponent down in the bout. After exchanging escape points with his opponent, the score was tied at 1-1.  Needing to pin Kennedy down to win, Kung did just that and won the bout with his patented double-leg take-down.

Senior Trevor Wassel had a nail-biter bout to claim his Sectional Championship at 170 pounds. Wassel won the match 3-0 against Algonquin’s David Wrin using his cross-body ride to be in good control for the majority of the bout. Defending the many attempts Wrin had to shake Wassel off and escape, Wassel ultimately scored enough points for the win.

“I’m just so happy I won. I have been working my whole life to be named a Champion and it is a great feeling to finally achieve my goal,” Wassel said.

After Sectionals, the Division 2 State Tournament on February 22 was the next stop for the boys. The only Sectional place-winners to make it to the second day (those who make it to the second day automatically place) were Kung, Robbins, Wassel, and Andonian.

Kung took fourth after a loss in a Triple Overtime Sudden Death bout to Woburn’s Imran Gholizedeh due to a locking hands call (technical violation, 1 point). Wassel and Robbins took fifth at 170 and 182 pounds, respectively.

Andonian made it to the finals and had a rematch against Milford’s DiAntonio. DiAntonio beat Andonian 1-0 in a heart breaker. DiAntonio scored his one point by means of escape and held Andonian down for the remainder of the bout — an uncommon strategy for Andonian this season. Andonian said, “Even though I lost in the finals, it was still a big thing for me — making it to All-States.”

At Tsongas Arena in Lowell (February 28-March 1), the remaining four athletes competed in the All-State Tournament. Andonian lost his first bout and fell into the consolation bracket. In his first bout of the consolation bracket, he had a rematch with DiAntonio and once again prevailed. Andonian took him down 5 times, all by means of defense and ultimately pinned his opponent and moved onto the second day.  Going 2-1 on the first day, Kung also advanced to the second day of competition with Andonian.

Wassel lost his first bout then won his second in the consolation brackets because his opponent was disqualified for biting his arm. In his third bout of the day — which he needed to win in order to move onto Saturday — Wassel lost to finish 1-2 for the day.  Wassel said, “This isn’t the end for me. I plan to continue my career onto the collegiate level. My high school career might be over, but overall I’m not done just yet.”

Robbins lost his first round bout and re-injured his shoulder — a re-occurring injury for nearly two seasons. Robbins’ injury forced him out of the tournament.  “That wasn’t the way I wanted my season to end, but it is what it is,” Robbins said. Robbins, like Wassel, plans to wrestle at the next level.

On the second day of the tournament (March 1), Kung rematched Gholizedeh and lost the bout in a near stalemate: Kung couldn’t seem to work his style to score take-downs. But, Kung did win his last bout to take 7th place and end his season in another State tournament rematch against Southeastern’s Rodney Dukes. Kung dominated his opponent for the most part; however, with about 15 seconds left, Dukes nearly won the bout when he threw Kung in a surprise headlock.

Kung defended the headlock well, so while Dukes scored the 2 takedown points, Kung avoided the pin to get his last career victory and take 7th.

Andonian wrestled Barnstable’s Owen Murray, a Division 1 state runner up first round, and ultimately lost the bout to him. In the last match of his career, Andonian came very close to achieving a come-from-behind win. Andonian tried everything — even shooting for takedowns — but his efforts were fruitless. Andonian said, “This was the best season I’ve had in my career. The memories I made this season not just on the mat but with my team mates are ones that I’ll never forget.”

Although during the regular season the Rebels struggled as a team through injuries, they exercised resiliency by peaking during the postseason with three sectional champions and four state place-winners.  Kung said, “As a team we had a pretty good year — [it] could’ve been better. Tournaments and post-season stuff is where we really showed what we could do, though.”