SOUTHINGTON - The MASS-CONNfusion wrestling tournament always brings in top-tier competition.
This year once again didn’t disappoint with a tremendous amount of wrestling on display at Southington High School Saturday afternoon.
“It’s the most competitive tournament in Connecticut probably during the season,” Southington head coach Derek Dion said. “There’s a lot of good kids here and a lot of good teams here, so it was a long day of good wrestling.”
Ponaganset (R.I.) finished in first place with 179 points.
Bristol Eastern places the highest among the local teams, taking second with 175.5 points with five wrestlers advancing to finals.
“All the guys that made the finals had to wrestle hard,” Bristol Eastern head coach Bryant Lishness said. “It’s a tough tournament. Some of the teams here are really good. To place here and especially make the finals shows us there’s a lot of potential when it comes to states for the guys. I’m really pleased with today.”
With three of the area schools participating, there were some close matches in finals that presented fans with a glimpse of what can be seen at the state tournaments in the upcoming weeks.
Below is a close look at each team and how they perfmored:
For the Lancers, the five wrestlers to make it to the final round were Jordon Champagne (113 pounds), Thomas Nichols (120 pounds), Diego Fernandez (145 pounds), Mike Barrett (160 pounds) and Dylan Levesque (170 pounds).
Barrett was the lone winner.
“You really want tournaments like these before you get to states,” Lishness said.
Before making it to the finals, Champagne earned a bye in the first round and then pinned Trumbull’s Brandon Neri Jacobs in 1:28. When it came to finals, Champagne lost in a major decision 11-1 to Ponaganset’s Michael Joyce.
“Champagne had a tough match going into the finals against his opponent,” Lishness said. “I didn’t mind him going for it though because I thought we could beat the kid on top.”
Nichols was seeded fourth in the 120-pound weight class. He pinned Southington’s Devin Lord in two minutes and then went on to beat Scott Barber of Ponaganset on a 7-2 decision.
In the finals, Nicholas was beaten by Brandon Leonard of New Milford in a 4-3 decision.
Fernandez earned a bye in the first and second rounds. During the semifinals, Fernandez pinned Chicopee’s (M.A) Jose Torres in 0:39 to continue on to the finals.
But Fernandez fell short in the final match, losing to Cole McGill from Ponaganset in a 11-10 decision.
Barrett earned a first and second round bye as well and then to reach finals, he pinned Jacob Colley of New Milford in 12 seconds.
Barrett faced Ponaganset’s Trevor Villanova in the finals and won via decision 4-1.
Levesque was the last of the Lancers to make to finals, but in order to do so, Levesque pinned Dillion LaRocca of Cumberland in 1:24 during the first round and pinned Matt Jacobson of Southington in 1:59.
In the semis, Levesque pinned RJ Higgins of Keene (N.H.), in 22 seconds.
Levesque then fell to Ponaganset's Josh Frenette in a major decision 12-3.
For the Blue Knights, two wrestlers made it into the finals, Shaun Wagner (138 pounds) and Paul Calo (182 pounds), while placing in fourth with 135 points.
Both Wagner and Calo won their respective brackets.
Wagner was seeded fifth in the 138-pound bracket. During the first round, he pinned Berlin’s Jacob Sparks in 1:06. In the second round Wagner beat Matthew Ryan of Trumbull in a 2-1 decision.
During the semifinals, Wagner beat Ryan Angers of Tolland in a 6-5 decision.
When it came time for finals, Wagner treated it just like any of his other matches on the day.
“I was wrestling kids that were already very good, just because it was a different stage, I wrestled the same,” Wagner said. “I approached it the same. I just kept moving my feet like I have been all day and attacked the whole time.”
Wagner claimed first placed as he beat Ponaganset’s Richard Andrews in a 11-3 major decision.
Usually weighing in at 173-174 pounds, Calo got bumped up to the 182 weight class.
Calo earned a first and second round bye, he then pinned Aaron Moore of Keene (N.H.) in 58 seconds. During the semifinals calo pinned Joseph Palmeri of Trumbull in 2:40.
In the finals, Calo pinned Jackson King of Simsbury in 1:11.
The Redcoats finished ninth overall with 76 points.
Daniel Veleas was Berlin’s sole finalist in the tournament.
Veleas earned first and second round byes and in the third round he beat Bristol Eastern’s Gabe Soucy in a 9-1 major decision.
In the finals, Veleas beat David Castaldo of Trumbull in a 6-5 decision.
“I think we’re continuing to grow as competitors even in matches where experience wise, physical maturation we were outmanned,” Berlin head coach James Day said. “We competed hard, we really did a nice job and our best kids competed very well against top competition.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org