Holliston Matmen Aiming For TVL, Sectional Championships

KEN HAMWEY, Staff Sports Writer
Holliston’s wrestling captains include, from left, Jake Fisher, Dave Harding, Spencer Fetrow and Brian Gary.
Issue Date: 
January, 2020
Article Body: 

Mike Capobianco has set some lofty goals for this year’s Holliston High wrestling team, but the Panthers’ coach is optimistic they can be achieved.
Now in his fourth year as head coach, the 30-year-old Capobianco wants his squad to contend for the Tri Valley League title, then advance to the Division 3 Sectional and compete for that championship. During his previous three seasons at Holliston’s helm, his teams have not been a TVL or Sectional champion. But, this time around, both of those titles are definitely in play.
“My prime goal is for our wrestlers to improve every day, whether that’s in practice or in meets,’’ he said. “We can win the TVL title and the Sectional, because this year’s team is the most talented squad I’ve had at Holliston. The 30 competitors on our team have a variety of strengths that should enable us to be successful.’’
Capobianco lists experience, depth, athleticism and a strong work ethic as top-notch assets, and he also likes the passion and desire his matmen have demonstrated. “Our experience is good because our returnees include five seniors and 13 juniors,’’ he noted. “We’ve got kids who can provide depth, and I like our kids’ coachable nature, their technique and their mental and physical toughness.’’
Last year, the Panthers had moderate success, compiling a dual-meet record of 9-11-1 and finishing fourth in the TVL. Holliston managed a fifth-place finish in the Sectional and was 10th at the State meet.
Capobianco knows that if his goal to win the TVL title is to be realized, his forces must enter meets against Ashland, Norton and Dedham with a high compete level. Norton and Ashland tied for the TVL crown last year and Dedham was second at the State meet.
“They’re the teams to beat in the TVL, because they’re talented, and they have tradition,’’ Capobianco emphasized.
If the Panthers are to unseat the trio of teams that have ruled the TVL, they’ll need top-notch efforts again from their four senior captains. They include Brian Garry (132-pound class), Spencer Fetrow (182), Dave Harding (195) and Jay Fisher (138). Last year, Garry posted a 39-7 record and finished his third year with an overall record of 118-22. Fetrow was 38-11, Harding went 36-9 and Fisher was 26-16. Garry, Fetrow and Harding were TVL all-stars last year.
“Brian was a Sectional and State champ last year,’’ Capobianco said. “He’s mentally tough, a kid who never quits. He takes pride in his work ethic, he’s quick and has all-around ability. A leader by example, he’s one of the best wrestlers I’ve had, and without question he’s the full package.’’
Capobianco also likes what his other captains bring to the table.
“Spencer was second in the Sectional, third in the States and fourth at All-States,’’ Capobianco recalled. “He’s a hard-worker, strives for excellence, is quick and strong and is naturally gifted. Dave was second in the Sectional and seventh in the States. He’s very tough, an emotional leader who’s strong, quick and technically sound. Jay was third in the Sectional last year. A hard-worker, he’s also naturally gifted. He’s passionate about wrestling and his technique is good.’’
Senior Andrew DeSimone is another senior whose experience will be a plus. He finished fifth at the Sectional last year at 152. “Andrew has improved,’’ Capobianco said. “He’s worked hard in the weight room and is always pushing himself. He’s strong and very quick.’’
Two juniors who’ll be counted on are David Touchette (106) and Laurent Kwan (220). “David won 19 matches last year,’’ Capobianco noted. “Not bad for a kid who didn’t win a match as a freshman. He’s tough and strong for his size, and his technique has improved. He was voted our most-improved wrestler last year. Laurent was fourth in the Sectional at 195. He’s tough, his technique is good, he’s improved and he’s very coachable.’’
Two other juniors also get high marks from Capobianco. They include Tristan Benson (160) and Thoren Berg (195/220). “They’re talented, tough-minded and they sacrifice for the team’s greater good,’’ Capobianco said. “After promising sophomore seasons, they’ve now got a year of experience.’’
Sophomore Aden Pessin (126), who was fourth at the Sectional as a freshman last year in the 120-pound class, is another asset. “Aden improved to the point where he placed last year at the Sectional and also wrestled at the State meet,’’ Capobianco said. “He’s quick, coachable, works extremely hard and he’s willing to learn.’’
Matt Amante (113/120) is another sophomore who’s in the mix. “Matt is tough and works hard,’’ Capobianco said. “He put in a lot of work in the off-season, and we’re hoping he has a good season.’’
Relying on a coaching philosophy that stresses growth and improvement, Capobianco knows that if those variables occur, there’s likely to be positive results.
“If our kids are reaching their potential by growing and improving every day, then winning will follow,’’ he emphasized. “Wrestling is the toughest sport in high school. A wrestler competes one-on-one; he can’t rely on anyone but himself; and to survive he knows he can’t quit, and he’s got to be physically and mentally tough.’’
When Capobianco is compiling a roster, there are attributes that he prefers that will go a long way for a candidate to be part of his team.
“I want kids who have passion, desire and a big heart for wrestling,’’ he noted. “Being mentally and physically tough are very important and so, too, are work ethic and a coachable nature.’’
A big plus this year for fans of Holliston wrestling is the team’s talent level. It’s solid, but even better, Mike Capobianco has competitors who possess all the vital attributes he prefers — the traits that lead to success.