Monty Tech Honors Former Coach with Memorial Wrestling Tournament
FITCHBURG -- Throughout the offseason, the Monty Tech wrestling team’s Twitter attached the hashtag #forapplin to each of its tweets -- a reminder that the Bulldogs were dedicating their season to the beloved assistant coach, John Applin, who died in the spring.
The hashtag was a promise to their late coach: This season would be for him. Every step of the way they would compete for him and they would find anyway to honor his legacy.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs followed through on that promise by hosting the inaugural John Applin Memorial Team Duals. Monty Tech was joined by Algonquin, Concord-Carisle, Essex Tech, King Philip, Mahar, Shepherd Hill, Tri-County, Walpole and Worcester Tech for a team tournament with two pools of five and a crossover round for the championships.
The day started with the national anthem, and then a moment of silence was held as Monty Tech head coach, and longtime friend of Applin, Kieron Smith, and Shepherd Hill head coach Chris Tamborra came together to place a pair of Applin’s wrestling shoes in the middle of the mat -- a ritual for wrestlers when they have reached the end of their career.
This writer, being a former wrestler of Applin for four years, felt a tear fall down during this beautiful moment of togetherness of the wrestling community.
Smith was happy with the way the tournament turned out.
“I think that today was a success,” he said. “I had a lot of compliments from coaches saying this was a great day, a lot of great wrestling. That they want to come back and this will be a yearly thing for us: The Applin Memorial. Definitely a yearly thing.
“We didn’t end the way I’d like it to end for us as a team, team-wise today. But you know what’s important is everybody got a bunch of wrestling and everybody got four to five matches in. Just a great day of wrestling.”
Many Monty Tech wrestlers had solid days on the mat as the Bulldogs posted a 1-3-1 record on the day with a 47-6 victory over Worcester Tech, hard-fought losses against Algonquin, 48-30, Concord-Carlisle, 43-30, and eventual champion Tri-County, 60-18, before earning a 36-36 tie against Essex Tech.
Bulldog wrestlers with winning records on the day were Isaic Paulino (5-0 at 106 pounds), Xavien Natal (5-0 at 120), Bryce Shufelt (3-2 at 126), Christian Colon (2-1 at 132), Colin Dudek (3-2 at 152) and Brent Landry (3-2 at 195).
Paulino got three frustrating forfeits to start the day against Worcester Tech, Algonquin and Concord-Carlisle, patiently waiting for a match before finally getting his time on the mat against Tri-County’s Harley Blanchett, a Boston Herald “wrestler to watch.” After some hand fighting and looking for leg attacks, Paulino was able to get an over and under throw to push the Tri-County wrestler to his back for the takedown and three back points. Blanchette was able to bridge out from the pin as got an escape out of the bridge to end out the first period 5-1.
In the second period, Paulino got a switch and put the Tri-County wrestler to his back again for a reversal and two backs before was able to bridge out again pushing the score to 9-1. Paulino cut Blanchette for an escape to try look for another takedown, which proved a smart decision as the Tri-County wrestler went for an immediate shot at Paulino’s legs as Paulino quickly side-stepped out the way to move around for a score and run the score up to 11-2. Blanchette scored another escape to make it 11-3. Paulino hit a beautiful head and arm throw for a two takedown and three back points pushing the score 16-3 going into the third.
Blanchette chose top for the third period. Paulino scored an escape immediately to get up 17-3, before getting a front headlock takedown to end the match for the win and tech fall, 19-3.
In the match against Essex Tech, Paulino was bumped up to 113 to take on Nate Webber, Paulino got a quick ankle pick to a cradle for a 35-second pin to end his day.
Natal, like his teammate, was given three frustrating forfeits to start the day. Against Tri-County’s Jae Nicholson he more than made up for lost time. After some scrambling for the first 30 seconds, Natal found an opening and scored a takedown to get ahead 2-0, then almost immediately secured the pin to end the match in the first period.
Natal against Essex Tech scored a quick takedown to start the match. After sinking in his legs and using them to turn for some quick backs to get the score up to 5-0, Natal got a little reckless and high and gave up a reversal for two. Natal immediately responded and got it back, as well as three more backs, to get the score up to 10-1.
In the second period the match went to their feet and Natal scored a quick takedown and the Essex tech wrestler’s back for the pin to end his day.
Shufelt got a forfeit to start the day but against Algonquin he had a nice takedown off a front headlock and a butcher turn for the pin. After a tough 6-5 loss in his Concord-Carlisle match and a loss against Tri-County, he rebounded well with a quick 23-second pin against Essex Tech to end off his day.
Colon, after a forfeit against Worcester Tech, had a barn-burner match against Algonquin that went back and forth. Colon had a come-from-behind pin with two seconds left on the clock in the second period for the win. Colon also suffered a tough 10-5 loss against Peter Charnley of Concord-Carlisle, who won the Wayland Invitational last week.
Dudek impressed against Worcester Tech. After scoring a quick double-leg takedown for two, Dudek spent much of the first period on top looking to score, but being unable to. The Worcester Tech wrestler scored an escape near the end of the first, but Dudek scored another double-leg to end the period 4-1. Dudek took bottom in the second and scored a quick escape before getting an amazing hip-toss throw for a takedown and three back points to get up 10-1 going into the third. The Worcester Tech wrestler chose neutral in the third, Dudek scored a quick double-leg off the whistle to his opponent’s back for two backs before his opponent rolled out, running the score up 14-1. Dudek was able to turn near the end for three backpoints and a tech fall.
Against Algonquin, Dudek scored a quick single-leg takedown before getting a spladle turn for three back points and then eventually a half for a pin. Against Concord-Carlisle Dudek got an over-under from the sprawl and bulled over his opponent for another pin for his third and final win of the day before dropping two tough ones against Tri-County and Essex Tech.
Against Worcester Tech, Landry was bumped up to 220 pounds. After hitting a nice head and arm throw for a takedown and three back points, he gave up the reversal. After scoring a quick escape going into the second, Landry took neutral and hit another head and arm, this time for the pin. After a struggle against Algonquin, he rattled off two wins by pin against Concord-Carlisle and Tri-County. With a nice over-the-head elbow roll against Concord-Carlisle and another head and arm against Concord-Carlisle he proved himself a throwing machine.
A Monty Tech wrestler who showed a ton of resolve and heart, wrestling the Applin way, on Saturday was 160-pounder Jay Leblanc, as he went 2-3 on the day, but all of his matches were hard-fought. After bumping up to 170 for the Worcester Tech match, he gave up the first takedown but immediately hit an elbow roll for the come-from-behind pin. Against Algonquin Leblanc bumped up to 170 again and gave his opponent all he could handle in a seesaw match that ended in a pin against Leblanc in the third period. After two tough, Leblanc showed his fighting spirit as he again battled through a back-and-forth affair that saw his team’s bench screaming their support as he pulled it out as the clock was winding down in the second period for a pin.