South Hadley’s Isaiah Cardenales wins third straight WMass Division 3 wrestling title

  • Frontier's Tanner Finch wrestles Hampshire Regional's Adam Picard during the D3 Western Mass tournament at Pioneer Valley Regional School Saturday, February 11, 2017.

  • South Hadley's Isaiah Cardenales wrestles Taconic's Mike Lafreniere in their 106-lb. match during the D3 Western Mass tournament at Pioneer Valley Regional School Saturday, February 11, 2017.

  • Smith Vocational's Koby Ouimette wrestles Hampshire Regional's DJ Willard in their 160-lb. match during the D3 Western Mass tournament at Pioneer Valley Regional School Saturday, February 11, 2017.

  • South Hadley's Isaiah Cardenales wrestles Taconic's Mike Lafreniere in their 106-lb. match during the D3 Western Mass tournament at Pioneer Valley Regional School Saturday, February 11, 2017.

  • Smith Vocational's Koby Ouimette pins Hampshire Regional's DJ Willard in their 160-lb. match during the D3 Western Mass tournament at Pioneer Valley Regional School Saturday, February 11, 2017.

  • Frontier's Tanner Finch wrestles Hampshire Regional's Adam Picard during the D3 Western Mass tournament at Pioneer Valley Regional School Saturday, February 11, 2017.

For the Gazette
Published: 2/11/2017 10:50:40 PM

NORTHFIELD — He went into the final on the cusp of making school history.

South Hadley senior Isaiah Cardenales didn’t disappoint.

He won this third straight Western Massachusetts Division 3 wrestling 106-pound title Saturday with an impressive 12-0 decision over Taconic’s Mike Lafreniere. Cardenales was in control from the outset of the match and continued to pile up points throughout to lead the Tigers to a 14th-place showing with 62 points.

Smith Vocational and Granby each took home two individual titles from Pioneer Regional.

Koby Ouimette of Smith Voke defeated Hampshire Regional’s DJ Willard, 10-5 at 160. Teammate Stone Mitchell captured a 5-1 decision over Mount Greylock’s Alex Griffs at 220.

Smith Voke placed 13th with 70 points.

Granby’s Clayton Yanosky defeated Monument Mountain’s John Field, 5-1 at 182. Heavyweight Brad Taft also won for the Rams after he beat Hampden Charter School of Science’s Joseph Elahi, 5-3.

Granby finished in eighth place with 114 points.

Gateway Regional’s Brandon Daniels is headed to states after he finished second at 113. He lost in the final to Christian Rivers of Sabis, 3-2.

The spotlight was certainly on Cardenales, who was in focus and wrestled with determination.

Cardenales’ incredible work ethic, which was instilled upon him during his youth, has continued in high school. He was not eligible to wrestle as a freshman, but hit the books with the intensity he displays on the mat.

“From the start of the season, he had it in his mind he wanted to be a three-time champ,” South Hadley coach Kevin McNeill said. “It’s quite an accomplishment. To do what he has done in three years is quite an accomplishment.”

He had beaten Lafreniere earlier this season. That measure of confidence and being a tourney-tested wrestler enabled him to earn another title.

“Isaiah’s is a tough kid,” McNeill said. “He always has been.”

Experience was a factor and Cardenales hopes it will continue next weekend at the state Division 3 meet in Wakefield, where he could make even more school history by becoming a three-time state champ.

“Experience is a factor, but no more than strength, which is what you need to go far in a tournament,” Cardenales said. “This feels pretty great.”

A lot can happen during tournament competition, which gets increasingly tougher with each passing week.

“He works hard every single day,” McNeill said. “He has been consistent.”

“He’s a great kid,” he added.

Cardenales is 36-6 this season and owns a 106-19 career record. It’s rare for a senior to compete at 106 pounds for three years.

“I guess it’s genetics,” he said. “I was very fortunate to be able to stay under weight.”

He’s ready for states.

“It’s going to be tougher, with longer matches,” Cardenales said.

Ouimette finished third at last season’s sectionals. Willard, who will represent the Raiders at states, gave him all he could handle.

“It was a tough match and having my mom and dad (Jennifer and Jason) in the stands helped a lot,” Ouimette said. “I had a different mindset coming in this year.”

Mitchell left the Vikings’ football team to concentrate on wrestling and the extra work he put in paid dividends.

“I dedicated myself to the sport and going to summer camp helped me a lot,” Mitchell said. “I love to compete.”

Ouimette’s win inspired him.

“We grew up together and watching him win motivated me,” Mitchell said. “I came into the match with a clear head and I knew I just had to go out there and make a statement.”

Joining Yanosky and Taft at states will be Granby teammate Christian Perez. He finished fourth at 106.

Also qualifying for states were Frontier Regional’s Josiah Murry (fourth at 138) and Hampshire Regional’s Michael Baldwin (fourth at 152).

Frontier got a glimpse into the future when its 98-pounder, Tanner Finch, prevailed in the final over Hampshire Regional’s Nate Picard, 21-5.

“It was cool,” said Finch, who will wrestle at 106 as a freshman next season for the Red Hawks.

Division 1

Northampton’s Alex Meunier advanced to the state Division 1 meet.

Meunier placed fourth at 170 pounds, dropping a 6-3 decision to Putnam’s Jolan Martori at the Western Massachusetts Division 1 meet, Saturday at West Springfield.

He is the lone Blue Devil to advance, but several teammates placed.

Alex Cotter was fifth at 120, pinning Blaise Lavalle of Longmeadow in 3:47. Noah Brink was also fifth, defeating Mike Caracciolo of Agawam, 11-2 at 126.

Sebastian Abend was seventh at 106 pounds, Cole Benoit seventh at 132 and Jesse Evers seventh at 138, each by forfeit.

Josh Reinhardt was eighth at 113 pounds.


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