By Matt Demers and Brendan Tadeo
SPRINGFIELD– Wrestling season is underway and the Chicopee High/Chicopee Comprehensive High joint wrestling team started off their inaugural unified season hot, winning all three of their matches in the preliminary tournament of the year. They had a tough list of competitors ahead of them. On Chicopee’s docket were the Putnam Beavers, Sabis Bulldogs and Holyoke Purple Knights.
“I’m not that worried about how I’m going to do. I just want some of these young guys to have the opportunity to make it to Western Mass and potentially to states,” said Senior Chase Collina.
“We had two or three of us make it there last year and I think we have a chance at sending a lot more of the team this year,” commented Collina when asked about how the season could potentially go.
Chicopee took on Holyoke where they had strong outings by wrestlers like Senior Luis Rodriguez, who easily won his match with a final score 17-2. New faces joined in the success of the team such as Freshman Kevin Blanton Jr., who won his first match of his high school wrestling career pinning his opponent at 2:17 into the match. The Chicopee team fed off of each other’s positive energy, shouting and hollering tips and motivational words to each other during matches. Chicopee defeated Holyoke 47-30 overall in what was a string of physically-impressive and high-energy match ups.
Chicopee pounced forward, taking on the Putnam Beavers next as they looked to go 2-0 in the tournament that day. Putnam, who are known for their strong and impressive wrestling program, proved to be a tenacious matchup for Chicopee, as they battled incessantly match after match. Senior Luis Rodriguez, who out-wrestled his opponents earlier in the tournament, shined again as he won his match pinning his opponent one minute in.
Rodriguez and his opponent were evenly-matched but the experienced Senior managed to reverse the grapple he was in and flip his opponent on his back, stealing the victory. For some, wrestling comes naturally, and that was evident as Junior Jeffery Ramah pinned his opponent within mere seconds of the match starting at 3:35. The Chicopee sideline was understandably charged and invigorated after Ramah’s prodigious pin, which led the team to close out the win against the Putnam Beavers 48-21.
Chicopee would end their day at the tournament facing off against the Sabis Bulldogs. Both teams went back and forth but neither took advantage of upper-hand moments, failing to capitalize on opportunities to take the lead until the highlight of the tournament happened.
Chicopee Freshman Tyler Jones was locked in a stalemate match where neither he nor his opponent could take the other down, until Jones grabbed his opponent and lifted him a foot off the ground, slamming him to the mat and pinning him to clinch the victory.
The spectators and the Chicopee team bursted out in amazement as the highschool freshman lifted his 220 Lb. opponent and body slammed him onto the mats.
The tournament was a great start to the season for Chicopee’s new team and new coaching staff.
Chicopee defeated the Bulldogs 42-41 and Senior Chase Collina’s prophecy came to fruition for this tournament as the Chicopee team exited Sci-Tech with their heads held high as the undefeated and undisputed victors.
The Chicopee team will seek to improve on their strong start to the season when they face off against the West Springfield Terriers this upcoming Wednesday, December 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Chicopee High School.