Things did not go the Franklin wrestling team’s way, as the Panthers not only opened the 2019-20 season with a loss to Mount Hope of Rhode Island, the team also lost to close out the season. Luckily, in between the bookend losses, the Franklin grapplers went an astounding 22-0-1 to finish the season with a 22-2-1 regular season record, as they headed into the tournament.
“Throughout the season, we were only able to field a full lineup two or three times, leaving us to forfeit at least two weight classes each meet,” Franklin Coach Carmine Colace said. “Near the end of the season, where we found ourselves on a good run, we may have gotten a little over confident.”
Despite having 35 wrestlers on this year’s squad, Colace felt that the team was thin at the top of the wrestling weight classes as well as the bottom.
“We had no depth this year in certain weight classes,” the Panther Coach said. “We had a handful of kids that wrestled for us last year that didn’t come out for the team, as they wanted to try something different. I’m hoping that I can convince them to come back next year and help fill those voids.”
Not having the depth, he would have liked Colace was still able to manage his wrestlers to the Division 1 central Championship where the Panthers scored 242.5 points en route to the victory. 13.5 points over Brookline the number two finisher.
In the convincing win, Franklin had thee wrestlers; Ken Sauer (152 lbs), Dominic Sackley (160) and Dylan Nawn (182) take home Sectional Championships. In addition to the trio of champions the Panthers also saw Jake Carluci (132) and Matt Leofanti (285) grab second place finishes, while Drew DiFilippo (120), Alex Fracassa (145), Ben Jacoby (195) and Matt Walker (220) all came away in third place finishes. Dillan Cashin (113) and Devon Bramson (126) grabbed fourth, while Alex Foley (138) and Luke Cashin (170) got fifth, giving the Panthers top five finishers in an unprecedented 13 of the 14 weight classes.
“It (the Sectional Meet) was the first time in a while that we actually had a full lineup and took home three championships,” Colace said. “We may have been knocked down at times, but we battled right back”
In the Divisional 1 State Tournament, Franklin finished fourth as a team, with six athletes moving onto the All State Tournament. Carlucci, Fracassa and Walker all finished in sixth place in their weight class, while Sauer took fifth, Sackley fourth and Nawn third. Unfortunately, at the All State Tournament, only Sackley, who finished second in the 160-weight class, was able to move onto the New England tournament for the Panthers.
Coach Colace is hoping that the junior can place at the tournament using his unique wrestling skills.
“Dom took second place at the Lowell Holiday Tournament, where he saw seven or eight different state representative wrestlers,” Colace said. “He’s not your typical quick, slick wrestler. He’s not as smooth and likes to wear you down, but his opponents have a hard time scoring points on him because of his style.”
Overall, Colace believe that the Franklin wrestling season was a positive one.
“We had expected to do well with the nucleus of athletes that were coming back,” he said. “We needed a few breaks here and there, but I can’t really complain. We accomplished all of or goals that we set out prior to the season beginning.”
Before the season got underway, the Panther wrestlers, under Colace’s guidance, were looking to win the Hockomock League, win the Sectionals and finish in the top five of the state. Franklin was able to check off all these categories, while continuing to be the number-one ranked team in dual meets for most of the season.
If Colace is able to convince the wrestler he lost this past year to come back to the mats, while also finding some younger wrestlers, he may be able to fill the voids that caused the team to forfeit matches this past year, and who knows what the team will be able to accomplish in the years to come.