By Aidan Chariton
Starting their season with a 13-1 record, Walpole Wrestling showed they are a force to be reckoned with in both the Bay State Conference and Massachusetts. Leading their historic success are senior captains Tyler Splaine and Luke Wassel, who both reached their 100th career wins this season. In addition, head coach Sean Petrosino also notched his 100th victory as a coach at the Nashoba Regional Duals Tournament where the boys took 1st place out of eight teams—with a dramatic 36-35 victory over state powerhouse Central Catholic.
At the Marshfield Holiday Tournament, the Rebels placed 8th out of 38 teams in the tournament, but for Splaine, he achieved his triple digit goal.
“It felt really good to hit 100 wins, and for all the hard work to pay off,” said Splaine. “Now my focus is on getting to 123.”
Splaine is referring to former WHS wrestler Matt Wassel—Luke Wassel’s uncle—and his program record of 122 individual career wins. Currently trailing the record by 10 wins, Splaine wants to achieve his next goal of surpassing Wassel to claim the title of most victorious Rebel wrestler ever.
“The Marshfield Tournament is not easy, but we had 4 kids place in the top 6 of their weight class,” senior captain Paul Kauranen said. “Everybody wrestled tough, which made us very successful.”
On Jan. 6, the Rebels went to the Nashoba Regional Duals Tournament, where they competed amongst seven other teams. Walpole was placed in a pool with Milford, Dracut and Marlboro, all of which Walpole defeated. The victory over Dracut marked Walpole head coach Sean Petrosino’s 100th career win.
Then the Rebels met the Central Catholic Red Raiders in the championship of the tournament. The competition was intense, as the two teams traded leads multiple times. With only two weight classes left—160 and 170—Central Catholic held the lead, 35-24. The only way that Walpole could surpass Central Catholic, would be to score a pin in both of the remaining matches. Senior Aidan Fitzgerald was up first, and within the first 2 rounds, he managed to pin his opponent.
With the Rebels trailing the Red Raiders 35-30, the result came down to the final match. Walpole’s undefeated record was now in the hands of Rebel freshman Mike Gordon. Central Catholic dominated almost all of the match, as Gordon fell behind 7-0 with only 30 seconds remaining in the final period. Suddenly, Gordon busted out of the bottom position and flipped his opponent onto his back. The two wrestlers struggled for position, knowing that their teams’ fates would be decided in these last seconds. With only six seconds left Gordon won the match with a pin. Walpole squeezed out the win against Central Catholic 36-35; consequently, they won the tournament as a whole.
“Winning the Nashoba Duals Tournament the same day as getting my 100th career win was special,” Petrosino said. “Especially because we beat Central Catholic, which is a state power house every year.”
Two weeks after their trip to Nashoba, Walpole faced off against Wellesley on the road. The Rebels defeated Wellesley, and Wassel joined Splaine by also collecting his 100th career win.
“It was a hard fought win against a good kid,” said Wassel. “It’s nice to achieve a big accomplishment that not many wrestlers get to achieve.”
Going forward the Rebels have set the bar high for themselves, with their ultimate goal being a state championship.
“Winning a league championship, a sectional championship, and then a state championship are some of our goals,” said Petrosino. “We need to continue to ask ourselves, ‘how can we get better each day?’”