BERLIN - The Bristol Eastern wrestling team may have been looking toward improvement in Saturdayâ€™s C.J. McCormack Memorial Tournament at Berlin High School, but it picked up a huge victory in the process.
The Lancers edged Vermontâ€™s Mount Anthony Union for the title 227-221, beating a team currently on a national record run of 29 straight state titles. The Vermont team has won its state title every season since 1988-89 and has been the New England champion eight times in that span, including three of the past four seasons.
â€śGoing up against out of state competition is always different,â€ť the Lancersâ€™ Michael Barrett said. â€śThereâ€™s always a different pace thatâ€™s set. In Connecticut itâ€™s kind of laid back, but when you go out of state thereâ€™s a higher pace and higher tempo of wrestling. Going against them is better as a whole for our team, because we learn to wrestle in different styles and being in uncomfortable situations makes everybody better.â€ť
Yet the Lancers are focused on defending their own state title, and head coach Bryant Lishness said competing in the tournament was about getting in more reps and improving on its conditioning as a unit, something that wasnâ€™t at its best in their season-opening win over Southington.
â€śThey worked hard on Thursday and Friday,â€ť Lancers head coach Bryant Lishness said. â€śWe pride ourselves on being one of the most conditioned teams in the state. Itâ€™s pretty rare that we get outworked. We might get out-skilled sometimes if somebody is just better, but outworked is usually pretty rare.â€ť
Rounding out the other teams in the six-team tournament were Foran (178), Windham (137), Berlin (110) and Brookfield (53).
The Lancers had three wrestlers come in first place in their weight classes: Barrett at 161 pounds, Jordon Champagne at 114 pounds and Bryce Beebe at 107 pounds.
Barrett pinned Ron Gaul from Foran at 1:24 to reach the final after receiving byes leading up to that semifinal matchup.
In the final, Barrett topped Adam Osha from Mount Anthony via decision, by a score of 5-2.
Champagne pinned Tanish Joshi of Foran in the semifinals at 1:22 before going on to pin Hermino Flores in the final at 4:31.
Beebe topped Foranâ€™s Orlando Velez in the semifinals with a pin at 1:59 before going on to beat teammate Trent Thompson, competing for the Bristol Eastern B team.
â€śOur team did very well,â€ť Beebe said. â€śOur team had a lot of finals wrestlers and most of our wrestlers came out with first or second. So this is basically another day to just get out there on the mat.â€ť
Just falling short in second place for the Lancers were Ethan Mathieu at 221 pounds, Trinidad Gonzalez at 196 pounds, Dylan Levesque at 171 pounds, Noah Corliss at 121 pounds, Gabe Soucy at 133 pounds and Justin Marshall at 153 pounds.
Marshallâ€™s performance was big for Bristol Eastern after a tough first match for him against Southington.
His finals loss came against Foranâ€™s Ryan Luth. Before that Marshall beat Jose Madera of Windham with a pin at 1:59, then topped Moses Marino of Berlin because of injury.
â€śMarshall did great today,â€ť Lishness said. â€śHe had one of the best kids in New England today in the finals. [Luth] is a New England champ and heâ€™s a [two] time All-American. Heâ€™s a great wrestler.â€ť
â€śHeâ€™s going to see him again next week at our place, so weâ€™ll see. We got to work hard this week and improve on that performance. [Marshall] is a game kid. Heâ€™s a notoriously slow starter. Heâ€™s a very talented kid, but in the beginning of the year heâ€™s just knocking the rust off.
â€śHeâ€™s a six-month wrestler, then a six-month football player. So heâ€™s coming off a little bit of a rest here and just getting his feet and his momentum back under him takes a little bit.â€ť
Coming on top against Mount Anthony is a confidence boost for an already confident Lancers group.
â€śWe were going up against tough competition in Mount Anthony from Vermont,â€ť Barrett said. â€śBut as a whole we did really well and executed our plan coming in and dominating.â€ť
While the Lancers won, thereâ€™s always room for improvement.
â€śI think we can improve on some stuff,â€ť Champagne said. â€śWe can work on the bottom. Some of our guys looked lazy on bottom, but we did very good as a whole team.â€ť
With such a dominant group and deep roster of wrestlers, the Lancers go into each meet and come out with the same mindset, a foundation built by the Lancersâ€™ coaching staff.
â€śOur coach wants class,â€ť Jordon Champagne said. â€śThatâ€™s the big thing. I think that if we all show class heâ€™ll be the happiest coach ever.â€ť