Depth, Balance Key For Ashland Matmen At Sectional Tourney

Ken Hamwey, Staff Sports Writer
Ashland’s wrestlers after winning the Milford Tournament for the second straight year.
Issue Date: 
February, 2019
Article Body: 

Past performances aren’t always good barometers when attempting to assess the future. But, in the case of Ashland High’s wrestling team, past history just might provide some clues on how well the Clockers will fare at the Division 3 Central Sectional Tournament on Feb. 9 in Wayland.
Coach Pete Zacchill’s squad, which was a fourth-place finisher last February in the Sectional, wrestled in three tournaments at the start of this season and displayed lots of ability and consistency. Ashland was fifth out of 15 teams at the Oliver Ames Tournament; it won the Milford Tournament for the second straight year; and the Clockers managed a fourth-place finish out of 26 teams in the Framingham Tournament.
“Those results showed that we’ve got depth and balance,’’ Zacchilli said. “And, we’ve got experience in a variety of weight classes. We can compete effectively from 106 pounds to the heavyweight class and I like our athleticism and quickness in the lighter classes.’’
Zacchilli, who has 29 wrestlers at the varsity and jayvee levels, was impressed with the way his matmen handled the intense frequency of tourney competition.
“A boy can wrestle four or five times in a day,’’ he said. “We did well in all three tourneys because our kids compartmentalized by focusing on the match in front of them. So often, kids at tourneys are either looking ahead or dwelling on the past. The key is to be in the present and to forget about a previous loss.’’
Two wrestlers who know the drill are senior co-captains Ari Dinerman (113) and Jared Swartz (138). Dinerman, who has a 16-3 record, won the Milford and Framingham tourneys, and at the Sectional last year, he finished second. Swartz, whose record is 20-6, was third in Milford, sixth at Framingham and third at Oliver Ames. Last year, he was a third-place finisher at the Sectional and was Ashland’s only qualifier at the All-State Tournament.
“Ari’s six victories in the Milford and Framingham tourneys were all by pins,’’ Zacchilli noted. “His work ethic is outstanding, he’s aggressive and he’s offensive-minded. Jared is physical and confident. A student of the game, he’s technically sound.’’
The 34-year-old Zacchilli, who also works as an assistant football coach, is bullish on Benny Herrera, a 106-pound sophomore. Herrera, who has a 15-1 record, was second in the Oliver Ames Tournament and was a Sectional champ last year. “Benny is a phenomenal athlete,’’ Zacchilli emphasized. “He’s relentless on his feet and he’s got an engine that doesn’t stop. He’s also mentally tough and fast.’’
Nick Crupi is a 120-pound sophomore who finished third in the Milford tourney. “Nick has mental toughness and he’s composed,’’ Zacchilli said. “He’s able to block out distractions and bounce back. At the Framingham tourney, he lost a match but ended with winning on two occasions.’’
A pair of juniors — Armen Bazarian and Josh Troutman — compete in the 126 and 132-pound classes. “Armen was second at Milford,’’ Zacchilli said. “He’s consistent and very coachable. Josh has focus, is enthusiastic and willing to learn.’’
Freshman Matt Gillis will be competing at the Sectional at 145. “Matt always allows himself a chance to win,’’ Zacchilli said. “He’s tough, both mentally and physically.’’ The 152-pound class remains a battle between sophomore Tin Vu and junior Mason Dushney.
Jack Flaherty, a 160-pound senior who was injured last year, is a prime asset, especially after finishing second in Milford and fourth at the Oliver Ames Tournament. “Jack has very good composure,’’ Zacchilli said. “His mat sense is solid and he’s experienced. Last year, Jack was third at the Sectional.’’
Sophomore Dan Tokar and junior Erick Corvera are battling in the 170-pound class and junior Joey Harrington is set at 182. “They’re enthusiastic and they continue to improve,’’ Zacchilli said.
Junior Collin Dagg is Ashland’s best bet at 195 pounds. He was fourth at Milford and Oliver Ames and was sixth at the Sectional last year. “Collin is physically tough, a passionate competitor and very coachable,’’ Zacchilli noted.
Lucas Howard, a 220-pound senior, has returned from injury and placed second at Framingham and fifth at Oliver Ames. “Lucas is a very confident wrestler when he’s in control,’’ Zacchilli said.
Sophomore Sean Harding, who was third in the Milford Tournament, is Ashland’s key matman in the heavyweight division. “Sean works hard, he’s aggressive with his footwork and he’s physically imposing,’’ Zacchilli offered.
Although there’s no team that’s head and shoulders above the field for the Sectional, Zacchilli rates his forces’ chances to win the tourney as “realistic.’’ He lists Dedham, Holliston, and Wayland as formidable foes.
“Dedham is strong because of its returnees,’’ he said. “Our goal is to win the Sectional. We’ll be competitive and we’ve got a shot at winning it as long as we’re peaking at the right time. We’ll be relying on depth and balance.’’