Walpole Wrestling already cemented themselves in Rebel history this 2017-2018 season through multiple historic accomplishments, such as senior captains Luke Wassel and Tyler Splaine both reaching 100 career wins. On Thursday Feb. 2, the Rebels etched another notable notch into the program’s history, as they defeated rival Natick for the first time since 1991; additionally, Walpole’s victory secured them first place in the Herget Division.
Both Walpole and Natick entered the gym undefeated against all other Herget teams; however, they both knew that only one team would leave at the end of the night as the undefeated Herget Champions. The 2016-17 wrestling season contained an almost identical situation in regards to the Herget Division, as that year’s dual match between Natick and Walpole also determined who would win first place in the Herget.
“Losing to Natick last year was really tough, as we were up big early, but ended up falling behind,” said senior captain Paul Kauranen. “We came back this year with an impenetrable mindset that we were finally going to beat our rival and end the 27 year streak.”
Walpole’s strong lightweight and midweight presence was clear this year against Natick, as they won all seven matches from the 106 lb weight class to the 145 lb weight class.
“Our smaller guys came up really big for us, especially since we were missing some starters like Aidan Fitzgerald at 160,” said Splaine. “We stayed off of our backs and got pins where we needed them.”
Especially impressive is the success of the Rebel underclassmen against Natick. Sophomore Anthony Borelli(106), Freshman Alex Takacs(113), and Freshman Derek Petrucci(120) all defeated their opponents—Borelli and Petrucci both winning with pins.
“The young kids have filled big spots, and have been doing a great job,” said Wassel. “We have a lot of young talent on our team thanks to the Walpole Youth program.”
Walpole competed in their final dual meet of the 2017-18 season Tuesday, Feb. 6 against Weymouth. Winning by a slim margin 36-30, the Rebels came out victorious and ended their season with a record of 19-4. With 19 regular season wins, this year’s group of boys is now the second most successful team in program history, behind last year’s season with 21 wins. After Walpole defeated Weymouth and Natick lost to Framingham, the Rebels secured first place in the Bay State Conference for the first time in 21 years.
“It is very rewarding knowing that all of our hard work has paid off,” said senior heavy-weight Sean McCullough. “Being the first Walpole wrestling team to win the Bay State since 1997 is extremely cool.”
Walpole Wrestling seeks to continue setting records and leaving their marks on program history throughout this post-season.
“Our goals are to win a sectional title and send a lot of kids to States,” said Takacs. “We have to be consistently tough and stay motivated to achieve these goals.”