Wrestling: Easthampton’s Waverly KaneLong heading to nationals with STCC

  • The STCC men's and women's wrestling teams gather at the University of New Hampshire where they won their fifth consecutive conference title in late February. Courtesy STCC

  • Easthampton’s Waverly KaneLong is a conference champion and will compete for a national title this weekend in Texas. JIM DANKO/STCC

  • STCC wrestlers from left: Michael Gonzalez, Justin Perez, coach Alberto Nieves, Waverly KaneLong and Shawn Conniff. The Rams won their fifth consecutive conference championship and are headed to nationals, which begin Thursday in Texas. JIM DANKO/STCC

Staff Writer
Published: 3/9/2022 4:12:29 PM

Waverly KaneLong has the entire Springfield Technical Community College women’s wrestling program on her shoulders.

The Easthampton native is the only member of the women’s team this year and is ensuring it has a successful season. She captured the National Collegiate Wrestling Association Northeast Conference Championship at 116 pounds and will represent the Rams at the NCWA nationals, which begin Thursday in Allen, Texas.

She’s the No. 3 seed at nationals and will open the tournament in the quarterfinals against No. 6 Mercaydeez Scott of Ferris State.

“It’s kind of weird,” she said in a release. “It doesn’t feel real. My dad was there and he saw it. He was confident in my wrestling abilities.”

Her dad Matt KaneLong has coached wrestling at Williston Northampton for two decades. She competed at Hampshire Regional largely wrestling against boys before matriculating to STCC.

“I grew up around it my whole life,” she said. “I like how it’s an individual sport and it’s all you. It’s a lot of hard work. I like that.”

KaneLong, a freshman at STCC, studies elementary education. She wants to eventually teach first grade or kindergarten and wants to continue her wrestling career after her time at STCC is done.

“You can do it if you work hard and you push yourself every single day,” KaneLong said. “It doesn’t matter what any of the guys say. It just matters what you think. You just have to trust yourself.”

In addition to KaneLong’s championship, STCC won its fifth consecutive Northeast Conference team title. The Rams are sending four men’s wrestlers to nationals, including Holyoke grad Justin Perez at 165 pounds.

“It’s something I became good at, and I stuck with it,” Perez said in a release. “I waited three years for this. The goal is to be a national champion.”

Perez is the No. 5 seed at 165 at nationals and will face unseeded Penn State World Campus’ David Schlichtig in the opening round.

South Hadley’s Joe Podolak took third at 149 pounds at the conference championships, as well.

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