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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
In a 49-12 victor over Wellesley High School, the Walpole Rebels wrestling team managed to show their superior skills, as well as their humility and class.
Walpole knew that they were facing a shorthanded Wellesley squad and opted to take a couple of “no contests” rather than run up the score against a hobbled opponent.
Their first wrestler was their junior captain, Anthony Borelli, who recorded a quick pin. As he explained after the match. “Going out, first our goal was to come out strong, and then later since they didn’t have a full team, we had two no contests before it, so we started at 126,” he explained after the match. “We set the tone, got a lot of points early, and then later in the match, we had no contests so that we don’t beat them by a lot. It’s kind of a respect game that we play.”
With all due to respect to Wellesley, Walpole’s wrestlers were too much for them all night. Borelli’s win was followed up by a close-points victory by Walpole’s 126 lb wrestler, Connor Hope, who is also a black belt in karate. Joe Servello also had a nice win over Wellesley’s Sophie Laing, but Laing deserves credit for lasting as long as she did, considering she had to survive two referee warnings after Servello twisted her arm too far, and a slam onto the mat that had the crowd letting out a sympathetic “ooh.” Heavyweight Manny Rosado added another quick pin, as did four-sport athlete Henry Morris.
For Borelli, however, the standout performance was John Shea’s pin, which came at a perfect time for the young wrestler.
“John Shea at 145, he’s been having a tough couple of weeks these past few weeks,” commented Borelli. “He’s been getting pinned and just having some tough matches, but he proved today that he can fight and he got the pin for us.”
In a night of lows for Wellesley, senior captain Hudson Sewall’s ultra-tight, last minute victory over Colin Hile stood out as a high point. In fairness to Hile, Sewall is a senior captain while Hile is just a sophomore - Walpole’s team is incredibly young, with zero seniors, nine juniors, ten sophomores, and four freshmen on the roster.
“We had two juniors last year, one tore his ACL in football and one kind of got tired of it and quit,” explained Borelli. “We graduated nine of our 14 varsity wrestlers last year, so it’s a growing year, an individual year. But we’ll see how good we are next year with us bringing everybody back.”
The team is so young that Borelli actually recruited some of the freshman, but found one unexpected issue in doing so: the youngest athletes weren’t happy about showing so much skin.
“There were a lot of freshman that just wanted to try it out, but they were scared of the singlets, how they looked, so we offered tee shirts and shorts. But they eventually got used to it … they’re looking stronger and stronger.”
It’s a good time for Walpole’s team to get stronger and stronger, because while their record stands at 8-6-2, they’re heading into the most important part of the season.
“This Saturday will mark three weeks until our biggest match, a tournament for sectionals, so we wanted to get through these league matches, win them, which we did execute today,” said Borelli. “This weekend, we have another tough one. We’re on our third step of the season, we’re all healthy, we’re all in shape now. So it’s all just for these next couple weeks.”