by Brook Sumner
Landmark High School’s 2020 wrestling season was one for the history books—in more ways than one. After the departure of longtime veteran coach Kyle Pietrowski at the end of the 2016–2017 season, Nate Efinger took over and began to rebuild a program that had fallen on tough times and low participation numbers. However, when the season started in November 2019, Efinger and assistant coaches Bruce Miller and Dave Hammond opened the wrestling room to nearly 40 athletes—a testament to persistent, effective recruiting. What’s more, for the first time the program welcomed three female wrestlers into the fold!
With an “Iowa Style” mentality, Coach Efinger preached extreme fitness and conditioning—a tactic that can sometimes backfire when athletes are new to a sport (particularly wrestling) and sometimes overwhelmed by the challenging physical demands of such intense practices. Yet, as the days and weeks passed, it was clear that this group would gel together very nicely. In fact, the group could not get enough of the wrestling room. The positive leadership and support provided by captains George Athanasiadis ‘21, Josiah Castellucci ‘21, and John Simpson ‘20 provided the younger and less-experienced wrestlers a place to grow, learn, and ultimately thrive.
The team finished the regular season at 18–4 and won the Eastern Independent League (EIL) with a 9–1 record. Only a three point loss to rival Lexington Christian Academy kept the Vikings from an undefeated league record. With the regular season championship wrapped up, the team set its sights on the Eastern Independent League Tournament. Again, the team rose to the occasion and ran away with a convincing EIL Tournament victory and qualified seven boys and two girls for the New England Championships at the Hartford Armory.
While the boys fought hard at New Englands, it was not to be for them this year. However, Makayla Carrafiello ’21 and Sophia Vasil ’22 stole the show. Unfortunately Layla Tsay ’21 broke her collarbone in the last match of the season at Roxbury Latin and could not participate at New Englands. In the first-ever New England girls wrestling championship tournament, Landmark’s girls were incredible. Sophia placed fifth in her class, and Makayla took home the top spot after an epic match in which she pinned her counterpart with only seconds remaining!
But there was to be more in this historic season. Makayla emerged as Landmark’s only qualifier to the National Wrestling Prep Championships at Lehigh University. It was the first time female wrestlers were offered a bracket in the tournament. After dropping her first match to the eventual champion, she bounced back to win two consecutive matches, including a thrilling OT win. Makayla earned a spot on the podium with the best in the country, placing fourth overall at Nationals.
It truly was a fantastic and historic season for Landmark’s wrestlers.
Makayla Carrafielo '21 takes third place in this year's New England Girls' Championship.