LOCAL TOWN PAGES - Last winter, the Holliston wrestling team put forth a better than expected performance on the mat all-around. The Panthers finished the year with a 17-14-1 record, completing their first winning season in some four years. Holliston didn’t wrestle all that well in the Sectionals, but regained their form in the States, finishing sixth overall with all four wrestlers placing.
“Coming off a three-win season the year before, it was a huge jump for us,” Coach Mike Capobianco said. “However, we lost six seniors to graduation, so our team this year is going to be very young. It will be a tough year, especially in the Tri-Valley League, but it will give the three kids time to learn and produce on the varsity level.”
Leading Holliston onto the mats this season will be Tri-Captains Clay Boice, Brian Garry and Dave Harding. Boice is the only senior wrestler on the team this year, and with three years on the team, brings the most experience to the mat.
“Clay was in and out of the starting lineup last year, but this year will be a fulltime starter for us,” the coach said. “He had a tough draw the past couple of years, but experience will help him this year.”
Harding, who is also a football player and wrestled for the first time last year, went above and beyond expectations. The then freshman went 18-16 and was a pleasant surprise to the coach.
“Dave brings a toughness to the mat, and that is something that you can’t teach,” Capobianco said. “He began to put things together near the end of the year and will bring us leadership qualities this year.”
Of the three captains Garry is probably the most talented wrestler. Has a freshman he had only three losses last year. The freshman then went on to become a Sectional Champion, finished third in the State Tournament, sixth in the All States and went onto participated in the New Englands.
“He was the first freshman in Holliston history to make it to the New England Tournament. Unfortunately, he lost both his matches,” the coach said. “He comes from a wrestling family, where his older brother Tim wrestled for us. This year, he brings us a ton of experience in only his second year.”
In addition to the captains, Holliston brings back a solid junior class of grapplers. Capobianco is looking for Shamus Farley and John Pessin to take big leaps this year. Two years ago, as a freshman, Farley finished second in the Sectionals, but last year took a step backwards and didn’t have as good a season. The coach is looking for Farley to have a bounce back this year.
Meanwhile, Pessin worked extremely hard in the off season, hoping to have a big season this year. In the past, the junior found himself the unlucky recipient of being behind a talented senior in his weight class and didn’t see that mat all that much.
While Capobianco knows what he already has coming back, he is unsure of what may show up on his doorstep come tryouts.
“I honestly don’t know what we have coming in for a freshman class,” he said. “Those in the room last year understand what type of team we have, and without the six seniors this year, it’s going to be a rebuilding process.”
Despite possessing only one senior and being in a bridge year building for the future, Holliston is still looking forward to going at least .500 in the TVL and a chance to have a winning record overall.
“Every year, I tell the kids we’re not going to be the same team in November and December that we will be in February and March,” Capobianco said. “It’s a process that they have to buy into; it’s all about the team, not one or two individuals.”