Burlington, like other wrestling programs with championship pedigrees in Massachusetts, has a board of names in its practice room that displays sectional champions, along with state and All-State place winners.
The Sherman twins, Jake and Matt , who won championships at 125 and 135 pounds, respectively, in 2010 — were the last Red Devils to pin down All-State titles.
This winter, another set of Burlington twins will try to match that feat.
A year ago in Division 2, then-sophomores Zack (106 pounds) and Cam Soda (113) became the third pair of twins and fourth set of brothers to reach the state finals for Burlington since 2006. Zack won the 106-pound title, defeating Masconomet’s Ian Darling . Cam lost to Salem’s Calvin Dalton at 113.
The Cappello twins, Nick and Jon , won Division 3 state championships in 2006 at 119 and 125 pounds, the Sherman twins ruled D2 in 2010, and Josh Lee won the D2 title at 126 pounds in 2016 while his brother, Tommy , was runner-up at 138 pounds.
“This has been our goal since we were younger getting our names on the board,” said Zack, who started wrestling with his brother in the second grade.”
Added Cam, “We were looking up to [the names] too, coming up through Burlington wrestling, watching [the champions] wrestle”.
And the list could have added two more, but Burlington residents Aiden and Ronan Noke , both youth state placewinners, are enrolled at Austin Prep.
“I think twins just have someone to work out with,” said Burlington coach Paul Shvartsman, who has been with the program since 1999, and head coach since 2008.
“They always have a partner . . . we’ve been lucky with all the twins we’ve had.”
The Sodas each placed third at All-States last season and Zack went on to finish sixth at New Englands. Both Zack and Cam are off to 4-0 starts this season, with the former opening at 113 pounds and the latter at 120.
But both hope to work their way back to their previous classes, at 106 and 113, respectively. It’s a difficult task for upperclassmen to control their weights enough to wrestle in the two lightest weight classes. But it puts both in prime position to repeat as state champions and win All-State crowns, while also bypassing two of the state’s best.
Melrose senior Hunter Adrian, a defending All-State and New England champion, has moved up to 120 this season. Danvers junior Max Leete won D2 and All-State titles at 120 last year, but wrestled at 132 Wednesday night against Salem. Tyler Knox, who won an All-State title for Pentucket last season at 106, is now wrestling for Northfield Mount Herman.
“I think they don’t want to go against their buddies in the All-State finals and they both know those kids are pretty great,” said Shvartsman. “Not that you’re trying to avoid anyone.”
Surprisingly, this is just the second full season with both Sodas in the Burlington lineup. As freshmen, both weighed less than 95 pounds, so the twins negotiated who would compete at 106 at different points during the season.
“We’d split the matches. He goes, I go, and then we figured that one of us needed the postseason, so we figured out tournaments and what matches we needed for seeding points there,” Cam said. “Then we just made a deal.”
Two years ago, Cam wrestled at 106 in the D2 North tourney, placing fourth, and then took fifth in the states. When they hit a growth spurt last year, the pair transformed into two of the state’s top lightweights.
“They’re kind of the quiet leaders. The team follows them. They’ve been the captains since last year,” Shvartsman said.
“In a way, it’s easy to make them captains because they put in the work. It’s easy to say ‘If you want to be great, follow them.’ and a couple of these kids do.”
“I think it’s been years since they took a month off.”
This year, the Sodas’ goal is to not just put their names on that board again, but to add a new section to it — New England champions.
■ Ashland coach Pete Zacchilli wanted to start the season with the toughest competition he could find, so he created his own tournament. The result was a 14-team barnburner with a number of the top programs in the state and New England.
Zacchilli emailed every defending sectional champion in Massachusetts with an invite to last Saturday’s inaugural Ashland Early Bird Invitational.
The response was excellent, with three sectional champions participating — Haverhill (Division 1 North), Springfield Central (D1 West), North Attleborough (D2 South) — plus perennial contenders such as Melrose, Wayland, New Bedford, and Holliston. Rhode Island power Coventry won with 155½ points, followed by Essex (Vt.) (154), and Haverhill (153½).
“We look at it like iron sharpens iron, so bring it on,” Zacchilli said.
The tourney also featured football players from three Super Bowl-winning teams. Springfield Central (Division 3), Melrose (Division 4), and Ashland (Division 5). Zacchilli is the offensive coordinator at Ashland under Andrew MacKay .
■ Plymouth South coach Marc Loranger will be inducted into the Massachusetts chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame on April 26, 2020 in a ceremony at Gillette Stadium. In 22 seasons, Loranger has coached Plymouth South to 18 league titles and has coached five state champions.
Tournaments to watch
The George Bossi Lowell Holiday Tournament and the Marshfield Holiday Tournament are scheduled for next weekend.
Both are two-day extravaganzas featuring the best competition from the region. Marshfield’s 38-team field begins Friday at 10:30 a.m., with finals scheduled to start Saturday at 5 p.m. St. John’s Prep is the defending champion. The Lowell Holiday Tournament kicks off Friday morning at 10 at the Tsongas Center, with the finals slated for Saturday at 5.Defending champion Springfield Central headlines the 81-team field. Shawsheen was the highest-placing EMass team last season, finishing fourth. The Rams will also be back in action at Lowell.
Brandon Chase can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.