KP’s Conniff Wins State Wrestling Title, Sets Records in Wins & Pins

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
April, 2020
Article Body: 

Shawn Conniff is in a class by himself when he’s on a wrestling mat.
The King Philip senior finished his final season by winning his third straight Sectional championship and his first State crown. At the All-State meet, he took fourth place and was eighth at the New England Tournament.
Competing in the 195-pound weight class, the 18-year-old won his third Sectional title in Marlboro, then added the State championship a week later in dynamic fashion at Milton High by pinning all four of his opponents. Conniff’s four triumphs at the States boosted his career records at KP. He left the States with the school’s best record (142-24) and a school high of 112 pins. After the All-States and New England meets, Conniff’s final numbers were awesome — a 148-24 record and 116 pins.
The State title included victories over Mattheus Berbert of Woburn; Max Anderson of Oliver Ames; Jack Carbone of North Andover; and Alexi Echevarria of Beverly. Conniff not only received a medal for his heroics, but he also was awarded a plaque for the most pins in the shortest time frame.
“It was a thrill to win the State championship,’’ Conniff said. “I was on Cloud 9 for a few days. The key was being confident and positive. I worked hard, felt the victory was well-deserved, and was glad to win for my school and my community.’’
At the States, KP finished 10th and the team’s efforts drew praise from Conniff. “We did an amazing job,’’ he said. “It was a good outcome.’’
KP’s last State champ was Brad Olivario, who won the 220-pound weight class in 2017.
John Adams, who coached both Olivario and Conniff, was delighted that Conniff notched the State crown after he finished second at that level last year.
“Shawn won the State title in dominating fashion,’’ Adams said. “He’s everything a coach wants in a wrestler — he’s technical, versatile, strong, fast, resilient and confident. He’s worked so hard and he’s a great role model who’s got high character and lots of humility.’’
At the All-States, Conniff started strong by winning a pair of matches on the opening day in Methuen, but he lost two of his three clashes on day two. His 3-2 overall record at All-States left him in fourth place. By finishing in the top six, however, he qualified for the New England Tournament. “I was feeling confident after my first two wins but things didn’t go my way on the second day,’’ Conniff said.
A native of Wrentham, Conniff was unbeaten in all his matches before competing at All-States. Conniff’s first match of the second day was against Darby McLaughlin of Springfield Central, whom he defeated at the New Englands last year.
“I lost when he pinned me in the third period,’’ Conniff said. “I won my next match, then lost my final one. “It was disappointing because losing to McLaughlin was my first setback of the year. I was deflated after the loss. It was upsetting because I know I could have done better. I had an off day but I’m going to have to learn from it and bounce back at the New Englands.’’
The New England Tournament, which was also held at Methuen, was Conniff’s final stop in his four-year KP career. He finished eighth in spite of winning three of four matches on opening day. He lost his first and only match on the second day, finishing with a 3-2 overall record. Conniff’s eighth-place finish matched the same result he had last year as a junior at the New Englands.
“It was disappointing to finish eighth,’’ he said. “The competition, however, was super strong and the wrestlers were all technically sound. I wish I could have done better but I’ve been blessed to have the kind of career I’ve had at KP. I’m sad it’s over but I’m ready for a new chapter of wrestling at the college level.’’
Conniff is mulling a pair of Division 3 colleges — either Castleton State in Vermont or Roger Williams in Rhode Island. He’s leaning towards Castleton. “The losses I suffered in the post-season meets will help me in the future,’’ he said.
As for the present, Shawn Conniff’s 148 triumphs and 116 pins put him in a class by himself at KP. He’s set the bar high for future Warrior matmen.