Lupiani, Lafreniere Win Titles at Mountie Invitational

By Rick Sports
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- As a youth wrestler all the way back when he was eight years old, Taconic’s Mike Lefreniere used to admire the older wrestlers that he watched the school put on the mat for the Mountie Invitational Wrestling Tournament. Lefreniere dreamed that someday he would be one of those guys competing for the tourney title for the Braves, and on Saturday afternoon that moment arrived.
Lefreniere rallied to an overtime victory over Minnechaug’s Miles Fortune in the 132-pound championship to win his bracket, as part of Saturday’s annual Mountie Wrestling Invitational at Mount Greylock Regional. He was one of five Taconic wrestlers who reached the finals, but the only one of those whom took home the title.
“To be able to finally win this tournament just like those kids that I looked up to before is just really special,” said Lefreniere, who admitted that winning it against a worthy foe like Miles Fortune made the win that much sweeter. “His team and our team have very similar schedules and we have wrestled at a lot of the same tournaments this year. Somehow or another we never found a way to meet at the top of the mountain together. It was long overdue and it was a very hyped-up match between our two teams.”
Rhode Island’s Chariho High won the team title, with a total of 201.5 points to lead all 18 teams. Taconic finished third with 161 points, Monument Mountain was 10th with 52.5, Mt. Everett 11th at 50, and Mount Greylock was 13th with 33 team points.
Lefreniere was one of only two locals that won their brackets, the other being Mount Everett 126-pounder Zack Lupiani. His 132-pound finale against Fortune was also the only championship to go into overtime.
“I was a bit of a nervous wreck before,” Lefreniere admitted. “I was a little nervous but I knew that I had what it took to take him. He had not placed ahead of me in any of those tournaments and I had beaten the guys he had beaten, but it was a good battle. He truly belonged in there with me, and I just went and talked to him and told him I am forever grateful to him for this match. It was a really great tune-up match for this point in the season.”
Early on, Fortune held the advantage. Twice during the first period he managed to take Lefreniere down to the mat, securing a 4-1 lead after allowing just one escape.
“He was very strong,” Lefreniere said of Fortune. “I felt technique-wise I was very on par with him, but he was a lot more physical and stronger than me. The first period I wrestled his match; he was a little more physical and he was able to muscle me around in certain positions. He took me down quite a bunch. My whole goal was to not let him take me to my back.”
That goal was achieved. Lefreniere was never turned to his back, which helped him avoid being pinned while also keeping the score close.
A reversal early in the third period increased Fortune’s lead to 6-1, but that was when the tide began to turn. Lefreniere reversed Fortune onto his back and nearly pinned him, before Fortune then escaped to earn another point for a 7-5 advantage.
With 25 seconds left in the match, Lefreniere shot in and took Fortune down to even the score and force the overtime, sudden-death period. Lefreniere timed his move, shot in and took Fortune down for the decisive points and the dramatic comeback victory.
“Nobody will ever have more heart than me, so I knew that if I took it deep into deep waters, eventually he would drown,” Lefreniere said. “Once I got him down and it was tied and going into overtime, I knew I had him. I knew I had broken him mentally, and having muscles like that, they fatigue easily. I knew I was leading a horse with dead weight now.”
Zack Lupiani also had to rally back for the victory, as the junior extended a family legacy with another title at the Mountie Invitational. Zack has now won five championships at this tournament, and last season all three of the Lupiani brothers all won their brackets to celebrate championships together.
“One of us has won it for quite a few years, and now it is one more,” Zack said. “I’m just keeping on the legacy of at least one of us winning it each year. I’ve done it for the past five, and hopefully I can get it next year.”
Keeping that streak alive was no easy accomplishment, after Minnechaug’s Camlee Wilbraham led most of the way during the 126-pound finale. After a scoreless first period, Wilbraham started on the bottom position and fought free for an escape. Zack evened it back up with an escape from the bottom position in the third, before Wilbraham escaped to retake the lead with roughly a minute remaining.
Zack focused and made his move to secure the victory. He shot in and took Wilbraham to the mat for the deciding points in a 4-2 championship victory.
“If I’m down by points, I like to start on the bottom and make a move and get out, and get at least one point,” Zack said. “I played it by ear and it all just came. It was pretty tough, and I was down by two points three quarters of the way through, and I just had to keep going. It just kind of kicked in and I wanted it.”
Nick Lupiani also placed to earn an individual trophy. Nick pinned Northampton’s Henry Walden in 0:36 to take third place in the 106-pound bracket.
Mount Greylock’s Jack Rosier was the lone finalist from the host team. Rosier lost a tough, 6-4 battle to Hampden’s Tyreece Cherival at 160 pounds.
Taconic placed six wrestlers overall. David Babineaux finished second at 138 pounds with a 10-4 loss to Minnechaug’s Elijah Naylor, Daylan Burke was the runner-up at 195 following a 9-5 defeat to Cheriho’s Nathan Marchione, Shaun O’Shea fell 3-2 to Longmeadow’s Lucas Olson in the 220 final and Eric Packard was pinned by Longmeadow’s Lachlan Berry in the 285 pound championship. Ben West also placed third at 160, with a 13-4 win over Hampshire’s Bryce Illingsworth in the consolation final.
Monument Mountain’s Logan Mead placed third at 285 pounds, after pinning Berlin’s Jesse Cameron in 1:01 in the consolation championship.
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