With wrestling season beginning, the Bristol-area teams buckle down for another year on the mat.
Bristol Eastern enters the 2019-20 campaign as the three-time reigning champion of Class L and will look to continue its dominance, while other teams are looking to improve on shaky campaigns from last year.
With four teams all at different stages in building a program and plenty of talent to go around, this year should feature competitive wrestling from all over Bristol.
Head coach: Bryant Lishness (13th season)
Last year: 16-1 (Class L champion)
Key losses/graduates: Justin Marshall, Trinidad Gonzalez, Noah Piazza, Riley McCarthy, Gabe Soucy, Carson Sassu, Joe Morelli, Ethan Matthieu
Key returnees: Trent Thompson (106), Mason Lishness (113), Tommy Nichols (132), Alex Marshall (145), Tyler Gleifert
Notable newcomer(s): Mike Erdelman, Mike Roalf, Justin Correa, Derion Minggia, Jeremy Morin, Foster Carl
Outlook: After winning their third-consecutive Class L championship in 2018-19, the Lancers return this year sans a pair of individual champions and a large, experienced team ready to send off its seniors as four-time champs.
Despite seven graduations, including Trinidad Gonzalez, a three-time Class L champion at 285 pounds, and two-time Class L winner at 152 pounds Justin Marshall, Eastern’s roster features multiple wrestlers who are proven winners.
Highlighted by Tommy Nichols, who won the state championship at 145 pounds last year, the 2019-20 Lancers are poised to be a force in a competitive Central Connecticut Conference.
Head coach: Matthew Boissonneaut (seventh season)
Last year: Finished 8th in Class L tournament
Key losses/graduates: Adam Ward, Connor Feeney-Wallace, Caleb Bouden
Key returnees: Will Hamilton (106), Jake Aldi (113), Jason Feto (132), Jakob Salinas (195), Eric Facey (285)
Notable newcomer(s): Landon Dionne (120), Johnny Rios (152)
Outlook: With only three seniors graduating off the Rams’ roster from last year, this season’s team is full of experience coming off of a strong season. Central has five returning wrestlers who placed at the 2019 Class L tournament, including 113-pound runner-up Jake Aldi.
Wrestling in the challenging CCC South, the Rams will be tested almost every time they get on the mat. Expect Central to have another strong season, with more success when tournament time rolls around.
Head coach: Ed DeSimas (seventh season)
Last year: 4-13 (16th in Class S tournament)
Key losses/graduate: Christopher Warner
Key returnees: Evan Kowalski, Josh Silva, Ben Foligno, Eric Atkinson
Notable newcomer(s): None
Outlook: Coming off a difficult year in the competitive Naugatuck Valley League, the Falcons enter this year with a nine-person roster. They will be bringing back junior Ben Foligno, who took second place in the Class S tournament for 220 pounds.
Head coach Ed DeSimas said the surrounding programs have very talented wrestlers and much bigger teams than he does, so it will be hard for St. Paul to overcome some of the obstacles in front of it.
Head coach: Joe Faitak (second season)
Last year: 6-14 (18th in Class S tournament)
Key losses/graduate: Bailey Schuster
Key returnee: Caleb Leclerc
Notable newcomer(s): None
Outlook: With only one graduating senior from last year, expect to see an improved Kangaroos team in head coach Joe Faitak’s second year with the program.
Caleb Leclerc’s second place finish at 145 pounds for Class S was the only top-six finish for Terryville at the state tournament, but with all the wrestlers coming back with experience from last year, this team could greatly improve upon its 18th place finish from last year.