Western Mass. Division 3 Wrestling Championships: Alex Schreiber captures memorable title at 190 pounds to help Frontier score impressive 5th place finish (PHOTOS)
|Published: 02-10-2024 10:16 PM
WILLIAMSTOWN — Following his third pin in as many matches – this one the biggest of them all – Alex Schreiber raised two hands in the air as he stood from the mat on Saturday afternoon.
His Frontier teammates erupted, as the senior had just claimed a sectional title in the 190-pound weight class to put a stamp on the Redhawks’ huge day at the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Wrestling Championships at Mount Greylock Regional High School.
Schreiber’s emotion shown on the mat had little to do with the result of the match – but a lot to do with the fact that he was sitting at home less than a month ago.
“I wrestled back in seventh grade, but I stopped, and just came back about four weeks ago,” Schreiber said. “This was only my ninth win of the season. I’m 9-0. It feels great, and it means a lot.”
From grades 8-11, Schreiber decided to ski during the winter season. After realizing he enjoyed skiing for fun but not competitively, he gave it up ahead of his senior year. But from the end of November to early January, Schreiber wasn’t doing anything extracurricular.
That is, until Frontier head coach Brian Bagdon and several of his teammates threw the idea of a return to wrestling at him. The Redhawks had a hole in their lineup at 190, which was right in Schreiber’s wheelhouse.
A reunion made perfect sense.
“I skied for four years in between, but I didn’t like it as much last year. It was a little too much for me, so I stopped,” Schreiber said. “I was really bored and I couldn’t stand doing nothing, so my friends told me to come back and wrestle because they didn’t have a 190. So I figured, ‘Why not? I’ll come back and do a few matches.’ And then it turned out I was winning every match, and now I’m a Western Mass. champ. It’s fantastic.”
Schreiber entered Saturday’s championship meet seeded sixth in the weight class, and rolled through the third, second and fourth seeds en route to his 190-pound title.
“I’ve always kind of been the underdog,” Schreiber said. “It definitely feels great to show up and compete like I did today.”
Frontier finished with 137 points, good for a fifth-place team finish on Saturday. Hampden Charter East (216) took first while Taconic (153.5), Monument Mountain (143) and Mount Greylock (138.5) rounded out the top five.
Eighth grader Ber Calhoun (106) finished in second place for the Redhawks, putting up a strong fight in the title match against Mount Everett’s Diego Cruz – who is now a three-time Western Mass. champion.
Wyatt Finch (120), Edward Mieczkowski (175) and Javion Cabrera (285) all grabbed third place finishes, while Kaden James (215, fourth) and Konnor James (150, fifth) each placed as well to round out Frontier’s podium finishers. Six Frontier wrestlers will head to compete in next weekend’s MIAA Division 3 Championships at Wakefield High School.
“It was a pretty amazing day overall,” Bagdon said. “We weren’t really seeded high in most of the weights, like Alex going from sixth to a champ, Wyatt from a fifth to a third, eight grader Konnor being seeded seventh and taking third – it was a hell of a day. Ber Calhoun, an eighth grader making it to the finals wrestling against a stud… all of us working together, it gives me goosebumps talking about it.”
Right behind the Redhawks in sixth place was Franklin Tech, which will send four wrestlers to the state championships next weekend.
Similar to Schreiber, the Eagles had a Cinderella story of their own.
Sophomore Dillon Laffond entered Saturday seeded sixth in the heavyweight division. With it being Laffond’s very first year wrestling, he didn’t expect to have the success he did – but he started to believe after pinning his quarterfinal opponent.
Laffond followed that up with a first-period pin of Frontier’s Javion Cabrera in the semis to catapult him into the championship bout, where he would have to face state-title favorite – Monument Mountain’s Sam St. Peter. He battled with St. Peter the entire way, fighting off every shot he took. But Laffond couldn’t find the perfect chance to attack St. Peter, and he ultimately fell via a narrow 1-0 decision.
“Hard work and dedication, that’s really all it was for me all season,” Laffond said. “This isn’t something I expected at all with it being my first season wrestling, but it’s a great experience for me. If I wrestled last year I probably could’ve won, but this is just showing me everything I can look forward to in the years to come.”
His path to the finals included pins over the No. 2 and 3 seeds. Then, against the No. 1 seed, he didn’t get taken down once. The only point St. Peter scored was via a second-period escape.
“Seeding is just a number and a label,” Laffond said. “It doesn’t really have anything to do with what happens on the mat. Any given match you can win or you can lose, it doesn’t matter who you are.”
Landon Purington (132) also took second place on Saturday for Franklin Tech, coming up just short to Taconic’s West Dews in the title bout. Eagles head coach Mike Aiken said he wouldn’t be surprised if Purington, a freshman, “finds his way to the top of that podium pretty soon,” so long as he keeps working hard.
Jacob Martin (fourth, 157) and Collin Eddy (fourth, 190) also punched their tickets to the state tournament – joining Laffond and Purington. Izaya Romer (fifth, 175), Carsten Couture (sixth, 120) and Jackson Morey (sixth, 165) capped off Franklin Tech’s strong day of podium finishers.
“Today went really great, I thought,” Aiken said. “We only have one senior and two juniors, so at the beginning of the year we didn’t know what to expect. We wouldn’t have finished where we did today if it weren’t for the growth and work they put in. They’re tough kids with great attitudes, and it showed today. I’m extremely happy with how we wrestled.”
Elsewhere, Mohawk Trail was also able to generate a couple state tournament qualifiers. The Warriors finished in 12th place as a team with 61 points, and had four athletes finish in the top six.
Logan Moore won his third-place match at 150 against Taconic’s Clay Cowdrey with a pin late in the first period, and William VanVleet also took third at 215 via a first-period pin – defeating Frontier’s Kaden James.
Wade Purington (fifth place, 106) and Luke Read (sixth place, 113) rounded out Mohawk Trail’s podium finishers.