Wrestling: Franklin Tech earns win over South Hadley in tightly-contested dual (PHOTOS)

Franklin Tech’s Carsten Couture (left) competes against South Hadley’s PJ Lavelle (right) in the 120-pound weight class during dual meet action on Friday in Turners Falls.

Franklin Tech’s Carsten Couture (left) competes against South Hadley’s PJ Lavelle (right) in the 120-pound weight class during dual meet action on Friday in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

Franklin Tech’s Maxon Brunette goes for the takedown against South Hadley’s Graicyn Drew on Friday in Turners Falls.

Franklin Tech’s Maxon Brunette goes for the takedown against South Hadley’s Graicyn Drew on Friday in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

Franklin Tech’s Landon Purington (left) competes against South Hadley’s Will Drew on Friday in Turners Falls.

Franklin Tech’s Landon Purington (left) competes against South Hadley’s Will Drew on Friday in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

South Hadley’s Logan Luis attempts to get the pin on Franklin Tech’s Madix Whitman on Friday in Turners Falls.

South Hadley’s Logan Luis attempts to get the pin on Franklin Tech’s Madix Whitman on Friday in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

Franklin Tech’s Jacob Martin (left) competes against South Hadley’s Matt Drobiak (right) on Friday in Turners Falls.

Franklin Tech’s Jacob Martin (left) competes against South Hadley’s Matt Drobiak (right) on Friday in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

South Hadley’s Brayden Koske looks to secure a pin against Franklin Tech’s Jackson Morey on Friday in Turners Falls.

South Hadley’s Brayden Koske looks to secure a pin against Franklin Tech’s Jackson Morey on Friday in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

South Hadley’s Josiel Ramos (left) competes against Franklin Tech’s Izaya Romer (right) on Friday in Turners Falls.

South Hadley’s Josiel Ramos (left) competes against Franklin Tech’s Izaya Romer (right) on Friday in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

Franklin Tech’s Seamus Collins (left) competes against South Hadley’s Jaime Medina (right) on Friday in Turners Falls.

Franklin Tech’s Seamus Collins (left) competes against South Hadley’s Jaime Medina (right) on Friday in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

South Hadley’s Roberto Melendez (left) competes against Franklin Tech’s Dillon Laffond (right) on Friday in Turners Falls.

South Hadley’s Roberto Melendez (left) competes against Franklin Tech’s Dillon Laffond (right) on Friday in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 01-19-2024 8:11 PM

TURNERS FALLS — It’s not often these days that a dual high school wrestling meet is competitive from start-to-finish. 

That was the case on Friday though, when South Hadley traveled to Franklin Tech. 

Of the 14 weight total classes, 11 were filled and had wrestlers on both sides. It was the Eagles that came out on top in six of those matches (the Tigers won five), and Franklin Tech managed to pull out a 36-29 victory. 

“It was very competitive today,” Eagles coach Mike Aiken said. “We haven’t seen much of South Hadley this year. They’ve gotten a lot better. They’re a tough team to go up against and have been increasing their numbers. We’re getting better as well. Moving toward the postseason, that’s what we need to do.”

It wasn’t just that weight classes were nearly all filled out on Friday, but the majority of the matches were tough battles that will help each team down the road. 

Of the 11 matches, six went past the first round and three lasted the entire six minutes. 

“I’m really happy with how the guys wrestled,” South Hadley coach Byron Joy said. “Every match was close and we battled. They kept it close. I’m satisfied. We certainly have stuff to work on but I’m happy.” 

Carsten Couture kicked the day off with a victory for Franklin Tech, but it didn’t come easy. Competing at 120 pounds against PJ Lavelle, Couture took a 7-0 lead after two periods. 

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Lavelle stormed back for the Tigers in the third, ripping off five points to get back in it but Couture closed it out by securing two points late to earn three points for Franklin Tech with a 9-5 victory. 

At 126, Tech’s Maxon Brunette earned a pin 17 seconds into his match against South Hadley’s Graicyn Drew, and at 132, Landon Purington pinned Will Drew with one minute to go in the first to help Franklin Tech extend its lead. Tech’s Conner Herzig walked away with a 10-5 victory in a competitive match against Jackson Erali at 138 to give Franklin Tech its fourth win of the meet. 

Logan Luis put the Tigers on the board in his match at 144. Competing against Madix Whitman, Luis looked like he was going to earn three points for a decision after holding a lead late, but locked up two points with a takedown in the final seconds that gave him a win via technical fall (21-5(, giving South Hadley five points and cutting the deficit to 18-5. 

Camden Burnett took a win at 150 for the Eagles via forfeit before Tech’s Jacob Martin got a pin with 55 seconds left in the first period against Matt Drobiak at 157 that put the Eagles ahead, 30-5. 

South Hadley saved its best for last to make the final score close. Brayden Koske pinned Franklin Tech’s Jackson Morey with 32 seconds left in the opening round at 165, and teammate Josiel Ramos was able to get a pin at 175 with 30 seconds left in the third and final round against Tech’s Izaya Romer in a back-and-forth match.

Collin Eddy put Franklin Tech back on the board with a first-period pin over Reazo Carrero at 190. 

South Hadley closed things out with a pair of victories – Jaime Medina pinning Seamus Collins with 14 seconds left in round two at 215, and Roberto Melendez pinning Dillon Laffond with one second to go in the second period at 285. 

Aiken noted the improvement he’s seen from his Tech team this season, and said he hopes they continue to put the work in as the season nears the home stretch. 

“Our kids are really improving,” Aiken said. “We’re wrestling out of positions and they’re doing things they didn’t know how to do even a month ago. We’re getting to where we need to be. It’s just a matter of showing up to practice each day, getting better on a day-to-day basis and trying to win each day.”

Joy echoed similar sentiments about his squad, saying the Tigers are moving in the right direction. 

“We have about a month left in the season,” Joy said. “This is a good opportunity to see what we have to work on and we’ll go from there. We’re on the right path. We’re moving upward. I’ve seen progress since the beginning of the season. Our guys are working hard in the practice room. Hopefully we can peak at the right time. That’s all we can ask of these guys.” 

Each match offers a chance to grow and improve. On Saturday, Franklin Tech will host the Eagle Duals, giving Franklin Tech wrestlers a great opportunity to get better before the postseason. 

“We’ve had a lot of competitive matches this year,” Aiken said. “We’re hosting [Saturday] and we’ll see how we do and how we grow. Every match is a learning experience and every little experience will help at the end of the year. It’s about staying consistent as possible and continuing to work.”