CUMBERLAND — Cumberland’s Tyler Shaw and Jake Mastalerz knew exactly what they needed to do when Clipper wrestling coach Colin Smith bumped each senior up a weight class late in Thursday night’s showdown with reigning state champion Bishop Hendricken at the Wellness Center.
With the Clippers holding a four-point lead and knowing the Hawks were likely to score 12 points in the final two matches, the duo needed to combine to score nine points to make sure the Clippers beat the Hawks for the first time since 2017.
Shaw, who is naturally a 170-pounder, moved up to 182 pounds and pinned Hendricken’s Isaiah Emmanuel with a cradle in just 65 seconds to set the stage for Mastalerz to pin down the victory. The senior gave up the first takedown in his match with Luke Mead, but he recorded a crucial second-period takedown to lock up the victory in the Clippers’ 34-33 conquest of the Hawks.
“I didn’t really think about the score or what if we were going to win, honestly, I just wanted to wrestle,” Mastalerz said. “My approach going against a bigger guy was to not lock up and not tie up with him. After I won this match, I realized we won it. It feels really good.”
“That felt good, especially in such a big spot,” Shaw said. “We were winning the match, but I knew we needed bonus points in that situation because Adolfo [Bentacur] and Cam [Bailey] wrestle at Blackstone with us and I knew they were probably going to get 12 for them, so I needed a pin to help us. Jake clinched it for us.”
Even though they only won by one point, the Clippers actually won two more matches than the Hawks, which bodes well for the state tournament where Cumberland’s depth could prove to be crucial with the Hawks likely bringing home three state titles with four state finalists. Even though he earned his first victory as a coach over Hendricken, Smith wasn’t ready to overreact to the victory.
“We would love for [a repeat of 2017] to happen again, but all this means is we won tonight,” Smith said. “We’re happy about that. Hendricken is phenomenal team, so anytime you beat them, you should appreciate that. We’re on to the next match which is Monday and we know there are teams that want to beat us just as much as Hendricken wanted to tonight.”
As close as the meet was, Hendricken only led once and that came after reigning New England champion Andrew Fallon pinned Dom Passanante, who finished third in the state last season, in the third period of the 126-pound match to give the Hawks a 12-10 lead. Cumberland, behind a 9-0 decision from Corbin Dias (106) and a pin by senior Brady Gillis (113) jumped out to a 10-point advantage.
Hendricken responded with pins by Noah Sclama at 120 and Fallon to take the lead. Cumberland then won four of the next five matches to take control of the contest, the issue was the Clippers didn’t pick up bonus points at 132 pounds or 138 pounds. Seniors Colby Reilly and Mason Lynch each won by seven points.
The Hawks won a coin-toss match at 145 where Matt Maroney downed Matt Maguire, 7-3, to make it a one-point match. Cumberland junior Aidan Faria, who won the John Gorman Invitational title Saturday, extended the lead to seven with a pin at 1:31. And then, 160-pounder Nolan Santos put a wrench in Hendricken coach Kevin Hennessey’s plans.
Hendricken planned to bump Fine up to face Shaw because they believed 152-pounder D’Ante Silva could beat Santos. Instead, Santos posted a 3-2 victory.
That set the stage for Shaw and Mastalerz to secure the victory. After Fine, a Cumberland resident, posted a pin in 33 seconds, Shaw answered with a first-period pin to stretch the lead out to 31-21.
“This is my senior year and I want to end my career with the way I started it to be state champs again,” Shaw said. “Nolan picked up a big win for us wrestling their starter and he gutted it out. There were so many big wins, including Mason’s over a kid [Isaiah Guerrero] who is a state placer.”
The biggest win was the final one from Mastalerz, who gave up a first-period takedown to Emmanuel, but battled back to record a takedown of his own in the second period on his way to a 4-2 victory.
“Two seniors going up and getting the job done,” Smith said. “The big thing was they knew they didn’t have to go out swinging for the pin. They just had to win the match first and go get the bonus points when they could. Jake’s experience is paying off. He knows that an early takedown isn’t a problem because he plans on scoring more than two points and there’s five minutes left in the match.”
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