KP Wrestlers Aiming for Success at Sectional Tourney

KEN HAMWEY Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
February, 2018
Article Body: 

The Division 2 Central Sectional Wrestling Tournament is right around the corner and coach John Adams is acutely aware that his King Philip squad will be facing some of the state’s finest competition.
The tourney, which will be at Algonquin Regional in Northboro on Saturday, Feb. 10, will include traditional power Natick and top-notch contingents like Algonquin, Canton, Walpole and Nashoba.
The Warriors, however, have had their share of success, posting an 11-5 record in dual meets at Local Town Pages deadline and finishing third in both the Milford and Canton tournaments. KP had 10 wrestlers place at the Milford tourney and seven place in Canton. Adams’ matmen are intent on finishing the regular season with the school’s fourth consecutive winning campaign.
“We’ve got some boys who can place at the sectional and advance to the states,’’ Adams said. “We schedule the best teams possible during the regular season because we want to evolve into a quality team. Competing in the Hockomock League is always a plus because the squads are high caliber.’’
Adams has some talented wrestlers ready for the playoffs and they all have the attributes he admires when he assembles a final roster. “I look for kids who are committed, disciplined, willing to sacrifice and push their boundaries, and those who focus on their next opportunity,’’ Adams emphasized.
Count the likes of Jackson Kelley (17-6), Mohammad Lotfi (15-4), Joe Fruci (16-4), Jake Malatesta (15-6), Luke Fitch (17-3) and Shawn Conniff (17-5) to be in the mix for some Sectional success. Kelley is a 126-pound sophomore, Lotfi is a junior who wrestles at 138 pounds, Fruci is a senior who competes at 145, Malatesta is a 160-pound senior, Fitch is a 170-pound junior and Conniff is a sophomore who wrestles at 182.
“Jackson was the champion at the Canton tourney,’’ Adams said. “He’s talented, athletic, has great mat awareness and he’s a scrambler. He’s solid in all three positions.’’
Lotfi, who qualified last year for the state tourney, was second at the Milford tourney and third at Canton. “Mohammad is focused and driven,’’ Adams noted. “His skill set is impressive and he’s in excellent physical condition to battle for six minutes. His style may be unorthodox but he gets results.’’
Fruci placed second at the Division 2 Central Sectional last year and was eighth at the state tourney. This season, he was first at Canton and second at the Milford tourney. “Joe is our captain and he’s a leader by example,’’ Adams said. “His work ethic is strong, he’s confident, tough and determined. His physical stamina is outstanding, he’s got mental fortitude and he finds a way to win.’’
Malatesta captured second place at the Canton tourney in the 160-pound category, a sign that his improvement has been significant. “Jake has a quiet command on the mat,’’ Adams said. “He’s turned the corner and has progressed with his technical skills. He’s a good role model and a very good student.’’
Adams is bullish on Fitch, who took first place at 170 at the Canton tourney, because he’s so coachable. “Luke listens and he steps up in crunch time,’’ Adams emphasized. “He’s aware of his length and strength and he knows how to pace himself. Technically sound, he’s not fancy but he knows his range.’’
Conniff, who was second at Canton at 182, is regarded as a terrific talent. “Shawn can do a lot of things,’’ Adams said. “He’s hard to hold, has a wide range of technical skills and he gets lots of pins. Like many of our other wrestlers, he competes out of season and he’s got passion for the sport.’’
How the Warriors will fare in the Sectional isn’t easy to handicap because there are always surprises, and underdogs often prevail. KP, however, has balance and Adams likes the way the scale reads. “We’ve got young kids and we’ve also got veterans,’’ he said. “Our younger wrestlers thrive on being positive and our vets are ready to peak. We’ve also got loyalty — our guys buy into the system and they live by our motto of 'respect, pride and victory.' ’’