Cassella, Perla Pin Down State Titles
BEVERLY -- As the referee slapped the mat in the Beverly High School gymnasium, Brevin Cassella was able to put a capstone on a dominant season and state tournament. He could now, after three tries, call himself a state champion.
Cassella joined Nashoba Regional teammate Lucien Perla in winning titles at Saturday’s Division 2 state wrestling championship, while several of their teammates also posted impressive individual performances. Monty Tech had a pair of stars in action in Beverly, as well. Meanwhile at Methuen High School, Leominster sent two athletes to compete in the Division 1 state championship.
Cassella dominated throughout the two-day tournament, which was held Friday and Saturday, as he came in as No. 1 seed at 152 pounds and had no trouble with his opponents, posting a a one-minute pin in the first round, a tech fall over his opponents in the quarterfinals and semifinals, and another one-minute pin in the final.
His efforts didn’t go unnoticed, as Cassella was voted the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Division 2 tournament. The award has gone to a Nashoba wrestler two years in a row, as Lucas Cordio earned it last year as a senior.
“It feels great just knowing that I earned it and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me,” Cassella said.
Cassella wasn’t the only Chieftain who was able to bring back a state title, as Perla brought home the crown as a freshman. Perla expressed relief as achieving his goal at the tournament.
“It feels great winning my first state title,” he said. “A lot of weight is off my shoulders. It’s great knowing I got what I came for.”
Perla’s road to a title wasn’t quite as easy as Cassella’s, though. Perla came in as a No. 2 seed at 145 pounds, earning a tech fall over his first opponent and a pin fall in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals he was able to eke past Devin Lambert of Dracut in a 2-1 decision. That set up a rematch with Mohammad Lofti after the two met in last week’s Central Mass. sectional.
Perla was able to beat Lofti for the second time in two weeks for his first state title with a score of 10-4.
Also for Nashoba, Alex Childs placed fifth at 195 pounds, while Ben Worden at 138, Dylan Brown at 106, and Evan Doig at 170 all went 1-2 to help pace Nashoba to a fifth-place team finish at the tournament.
Monty Tech also had a solid tournament, as freshman Isaic Paulino placed third for the Bulldogs at 106 pounds, the first Division 2 state place-winner for Monty Tech since the 2007 season, as well as the highest place-winner ever under head coach Kieron Smith’s tenure.
“It feels good,” said Paulino.
In his first match, Paulino pinned his opponent at the 2:35 mark after leading 14-1. He then took on Jimmy Glynn of Central Catholic, who took second at last week’s Division 2 North sectional tournament, in what looked to be a match built for primetime, with Paulino coming into the event ranked seventh at 106 pounds on asswrestling.com and Glynn at sixth.
The match lived up to the billing, as Paulino went on to win 7-5, with three takedowns and one escape, while Glynn scored three escapes and one reversal. That sent Paulino to the semifinals to take on Zach Soda of Burlington, an opponent he had seen earlier in the season, losing 7-3. Soda prevailed again in the rematch, pinning Paulino in the second period. Soda went on to win the tournament.
Paulino went down to the consolation semifinals, where he aggressively attacked and pushed the pace to roll over his opponent in a 16-1 tech fall. In the consolation final, a rematch against Glynn, he earned a 6-1 decision for the bronze medal.
Paulino will now represent Monty Tech at this weekend’s all-state tournament at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, the first Monty Tech wrestler in more than a decade to achieve the honor.
Xavien Natal was also in action for Monty Tech, going 1-2 at 120 pounds.
Perla, Paulino and Cassella, when all asked how they would celebrate, were quick to respond with “practice.”
“Just going to kind of go to Doughboys in the morning for Sunday-morning practice, and just looking to prepare myself for the all-state tournament, where I’m looking to win, as well,” said Cassella.
Perla echoed his teammate’s words, saying, “Now I’m looking to keep pushing through the rest of my season and add on an all-state and New England title, as well.”
For Paulino, “Now it’s onto All States, where I’m looking to win that.”
Over at the Division 1 state tournament in Methuen, Zach Khallady and Anthony Larson each went 1-2 to proudly represent Leominster High School.