Holliston Wrestling on the Rise

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
March, 2019
Article Body: 

Two years ago, Mike Capobianco took over the Holliston wrestling program. With a large number of senior wrestlers, the Panthers went 17-13-1 during the regular season and finished sixth in the states, despite only four athletes participating.
As the team gathered last winter for the upcoming season, they were looking at a rebuilding year having just graduated just about their entire team. Holliston would have only two seniors on the squad, only one with starting experience. Not having a lot of upperclassmen with experience Capobianco went with two sophomore captains in Brian Garry and Spencer Fetrow.
“Obviously, it is not something that you see a lot of (sophomore captains),” the then second year coach said. “But at the end of the day, they were the best fit to be our captains.”
The Panthers didn’t have the type of season they had put together the year prior, but they didn’t have the typical first year of rebuilding season, either. Holliston didn’t get to participate in the Sectionals nor States as a team as they would have liked, but they did record a respectable 9-10 campaign. Both captains finished second in the States Individual Tournament. Garry at 120 pounds and Fetrow at 195.
As the bridge seemed to be build a lot faster than the Coach had anticipated, this year he’s looking at his grapplers to rise to the occasion and show the rest of the state what they’ve got.
“Expectations were definitely much higher coming into the season after the last year and returning a lot of talent,” Capobianco said. “We knew that we were only going to get batter as time went on. We have three talented juniors on this year’s squad as well as a good freshman team coming in.” (126)
At the time of this writing, the Panthers were 8-4-1 behind the leadership of their quad captains: seniors Jonathan Pessin (160 pound weight class) and Shamus Frawley (145) as well as juniors Dave Harding (170) and Garry (126). Pessin was limited last season with a concussion, but joined the team down the back stretch and wrestled well enough in the States to finish 5th.
Thus far this year, the captains are doing a fantastic job in leading the Panthers into the win column. Frawley, the toughest kid in the room according to the Coach, has got off to a good start going 19-6, while Harding has posted the best record on the team at 20-3. He has also taken home first place in the Whitman-Hanson Invitational.
“Dave has taken a big leap as a leader and is a tough kid on the mat,” the coach said. “I knew that he was going to be very good this season, but I didn’t see this (20-3). I thought that he was going to struggle at the beginning, but I guess I was wrong.”
Holliston’s two-time captain Garry is also off to another fantastic start posting a 21-4 record, while winning the Milford Tournament.
“At 126 he’s wrestling in a tough weight class going up against some of the top wrestlers in the state,” Capobianco said. “And as only a junior he recently grabbed his 100th win.”
In addition to the captains leading the way, Holliston has also got some help from Fetrow at the 182-pound class and sophomore David Touchette (106 pounds). Fetrow has been a great leader in the locker room and has been one of the Panthers best wrestlers. According to the Coach, he has turned the corner and has figured things out. He also was a first-place finisher at the Whitman-Hanson Invitational.
Touchette, who basically didn’t provide all that much on the mat for the team last season, has been a really big help in the team’s success this year.
“Last year he was wrestling at 106 and he was 80 pounds soaking wet, so he had himself a tough season recording no wins as a freshman,” the coach said. “This year he is grown and is 103 pounds, wrestling where he should be against kids his own size and has gone 14-9 so far.”
With still a lot of wrestling to be had, Capobianco feels the team is on schedule and right where they should be.
“I feel we are where we need to be so that we will be wrestling well in the Sectionals and maybe even into the States,” Capobianco said. “We have a really talented group of athletes that have been working extremely hard,”
Holliston is hoping that they continue to rack up the wins in order to capture the Tri Valley Championship, having a good showing in the Sectionals that allow them to move onto the States. The Panthers finished the year with a 10-9-1 record, not quite where they had hoped to have finished, but according to the Coach, it’s a long season and who knows what can happen.
Wrestling in the Division 3 Central Tournament, Holliston finished in fifth place as a team grabbing two first place finishes, 2 seconds and 2 fifths, while adding a third, a fourth and a sixth to earn a total of 31.5 points.
Taking home Sectional Championships were Garry at 126 pounds and Frawley at 145. Harding (170) and Fetrow (182) were runners-up. Jay Fisher, a junior wrestling at 138, took third place in his weight class; sophomore Laurent Kwan (195) was fourth; freshman Aden Pessin (120) and senior Oliver Gagnon (132) grabbed fifth place finishes and junior Andrew DeSimone (152) finished sixth. Other Panther grapplers competing at the sectionals were Touchette (106) and Carter Capello (220).
Holliston sent seven wrestlers to the Division 3 State Tournament, where the Panthers finished in tenth place with 65.5 points. Garry, the D3 Central Champion, defeated Jaden Estrada, the South Champion, to claim the 126 pound State Championship. Fetrow finished third in the182 pound category, Harding was seventh at 170 pounds and Frawley took home eighth place at 145 pounds. Fisher and Pessin both bowed out with first round loses in the State Tournament.