Musically Inclined and a Force on the Mat
Weylan O’Connell, a senior captain for Panthers wrestling and also an accomplished musician, hopes for a sectional championship and to place well in states this year. Photos courtesy of Weylan O’Connell.
By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Franklin’s Weylan O’Connell is not only an accomplished musician, but he can also fine tune his opponents when he steps onto the mat, leaving them wondering what just hit them. The senior wrestling captain has been using his strength and knowledge on the mat since the seventh grade, when he first joined Carmine Colace’s New England Gold Wrestling club.
“Friends and family told me about wrestling, and eventually, I thought that it would be a could opportunity for conditioning,” O’Connell said. “It also helped with the mental aspect of things as well. Wrestling can break you or build you up.”
The Franklin native began wrestling for Colace in high school during his sophomore season, and although he saw the majority of his time on the junior varsity level, he did see occasional action with the varsity team. Although having wrestled since the seventh grade, O’Connell’s freshman year was that of COVID and with everything that was going on, he really didn’t think about wrestling that year.
“I didn’t lose a match my first-year wrestling with the JV team,” he said. “The Coach saw what I was doing and that I was ready, so he gave me the opportunity to wrestle on the varsity team a couple of times near the end of the season.”
Following his first campaign with the Panthers, O’Connell wanted to stay on the varsity squad, so during the off-season he worked hard with New England Gold.
“Prior to my junior year, I continued to work with New England Gold, and I crushed it,” O’Connell said. “The coaching staff there are amazing; they pushed me putting me in a good position to succeed my junior year.”
During the wrestle-off’s, O’Connell validated himself and earned his spot with the Panthers wrestling in the 170 lb. weight class that year.
“It was definitely different that year, being seeded and seeing how well I could do,” he said. “I don’t remember the numbers, but I didn’t have that many losses.”
O’Connell, in fact was able to finish fifth at the Sectional Tournament and was an alternate at the State Meet. Unfortunately, although hoping to do better than he actually did, he was motivated for the challenge.
“I was ready, but I was beat out by a kid that I had beaten earlier in the year – it was a real slap in the face. It was a weird match, and I got caught in a position that I had never been in before,” he said. “But, I ended up beating him in the consolation round to take fifth place and send me to the States as the alternate and not him. That set me up to be successful this season.”
Despite the loss in the Sectionals, O’Connell noted that there are millions of combinations in wrestling, and you can’t know them all, and eventually you’re bound to fall into one you don’t know. Luckily, he took that lack of knowledge to that particular position and turned it around to benefit himself.
Coming into his final season with the Panthers, the senior grappler wants nothing less than a Sectional Championship and to be able to place well at the State Meet. At the time of this writing, O’Connell, a senior captain for the team, found himself sporting an impressive 15-2 record for Franklin.
“At the end of last year, Coach told me that I was going to be a captain, and that it was now my team, “O’Connell remembers. “I worked really hard to be a captain, and I like being able to show the other kids when they think that they’re tired and its over; you’re only at 40% and still have something left.”
Colace noted that his senior captain is an extremely hard-working all-around individual that gives it everything that he has when he’s on the mat. He is the stronghold for the team and their winning.
While on the mat, O’Connell is a beast with a mission, and the only thing that can stop him from winning on the mat is his music. In addition to being a superstar wrestler for the Panthers, he is a big music advocate. Playing bass, he has found his way to the Districts for Music and will be competing at Mechanics Hall in Worcester.
“It’s audition based, and this is the second year that I have made it playing jazz bass,” he said. “I am hoping to do well and make it to All-States.”
Unfortunately, the Music Districts will be taking place at the same time that Franklin will be hosting the Franklin Invitational, and not having O’Connell there will make it tough for the Panthers.
“I knew what he was involved in, but this is the wrong time to be happening,” Coach Colace said. “He is a very important part of our team, and his wins are vital in our success.”
While his coach may not be all that thrilled that his captain is not going to be able to take part in the tournament, O’Connell says he tries to keep both entities as equal as possible.
“I enjoy wrestling as much as I do music and try to keep them balanced,” he said. “But when you get that once in a lifetime opportunity, like playing at Mechanics Hall, you have to take it. Other than that, wrestling will always take top precedent.”
O’Connell is also part of DECA Inc, which was formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America where he recently placed first in his field in the district.
When his high school wrestling career comes to an end, he will be off to college to study Business Economics with a minor in Music and most likely will not have the time to suit up and get back onto the mat. So, while he has the chance, he is looking to give everything that he ha