MILTON — During gym class at Milton High, Mason Pellegri would pause to glance up at the two red vertical banners hanging in the southeast corner of Copeland Field House. They served as a testament to the accolades the Wildcats wrestling team accumulated over the years.
As he studied the banner of past champions, Pellegri wondered about Joe Sidoti, a two-time state champion at 157 pounds in 1963-64, whose name topped a list that included Clinton Graham (1999, 171) and Mark Lewis (2000, 171). It was exalted company Pellegri joined last year when he won the MIAA Division 2 state wrestling title at 170 pounds.
“I’d always look up at it and think that it’d be cool to put my name up there again,’’ Pellegri said.
In what proved to be a banner day for the Milton junior — and for Milford, which repeated as overall team champion in runaway fashion with 187½ points — Pellegri made history Saturday when he pinned Minnechaug’s Sam Dean in 37 seconds to win the 182-pound final. Before the home crowd had a chance to settle in their seats, Pellegri (40-1 this season) became the first Milton wrestler to win back-to-back state titles since Sidoti 59 years ago.
“It was a lot of fun, getting to come here and compete at home, it was really cool,’’ Pellegri said. “And so was winning the state championship. [Back to back] hasn’t soaked in yet, but it’s awesome.”
In keeping with the theme of the tournament, Milford repeated as team champion under coach P.J. Boccia, the Division 2 Coach of the Year who brought 12 competitors to states and saw five advance to the finals and two — Michael Boulanger (126) and Hampton Kaye-Kuter (285) — reach the top of the podium.
Minnechaug, which got wins from Cam Ice (138) and Elliott Humphries (145), voted Wrestler of the Match after his major decision over Northeast’s Luke Connolly, 9-1, finished second (140½).
“We were thrilled to win it again, but we know Minnechaug was coming strong,’’ Boccia said. “They’re a great program and they’re making us better. They had five guys in the finals and we had five guys in the finals. Nothing but respect for that program.”
Earlier in the week, Pellegri reached Sidoti by phone at his Florida home. “I just wanted to know what his experience was like, wrestling back then,” Pellegri said. “It was good to get to know him.”
To reach the 182 finals, Pellegri had to go to the mat, literally and figuratively, in his semifinal bout against Bridgewater-Raynham’s Chris Hogg, who took Pellegri into a heart-pounding, sudden-death round where the Milton wrestler broke a 4-4 stalemate with a lightning-fast takedown that pinned Hogg with his first loss of the season.
“It was definitely my toughest match,” Pellegri said. “He’s very strong and technical.”
That set up a rematch in the final against Dean, whom Pellegri had defeated by fall in the quarterfinals of the Lowell tournament in December. This time, Pellegri wasted little time in pinning Dean for the title.
“I took him down and I got a chicken wing and circled around,’’ he said. “We were on the edge of the mat and so I was trying to keep him inbounds and not let him go out. I just lifted his head, so his shoulder blades would be touching [the mat], and got the pin.”
MIAA Division 2 Championship
at Milton High School
106 pounds — Charlie Lussier, Whitman-Hanson def. Derek Marcolini, Milford, 6-4.
113 pounds — Anthony Vickers, Northbridge def. Aldan Baum, Milford, 6-3.
120 pounds — Brent Von Magnus, Bridgewater-Raynham def. Miles Darling, Essex Tech, 7-5.
126 pounds — Michael Boulanger, Milford def. Cameron Birnbaum, Sharon, 4-2.
132 pounds — Jonah Paulino, Monty Tech def. Nick Varvak, Sharon, .
138 pounds — Cam Ice, Minnechaug def. Cyrus Jones, Sharon, 7-0.
145 pounds — Elliott Humphries, Minnechaug def. Luke Connolly, Northeast, 9-1.
152 pounds — Brock Desmarais, Tyngsborough def. Ryan Donovan, Milford, 10-0.
160 pounds — Colby Cloutier, King Philip def. Calvin Stiles, Minnechaug, 2:22.
170 pounds — Dominic Bastianelli, Billerica def. Liam Meeker, Minnechaug, 12-5.
182 pounds — Mason Pellegri, Milton def. Sam Dean, Minnechaug, 0:37.
195 pounds — Nathan Leach, Bridgewater-Raynham def. Greg Berthiaume, North Attleborough, 6-2.
220 pounds — Colton Johnson, Mansfield def. Heath McGilvray, Plymouth South, 8-3.
285 pounds — Hampton Kaye-Kuter, Milford def. Justin Sokol, Hopkinton, 1:40.
Team results — 1. Milford, 187.5; 2. Minnechaug, 140.5; 3. Bridgewater-Raynham, 121.5; 4. Sharon, 110; 5. Monty Tech, 100.
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.