SOUTHINGTON - The Bristol Eastern wrestling team has been dominating its season and the Lancers have their eyes on the Class L state title once again.
But in order for Bristol Eastern to claim the title once more, the team is focusing on getting everyone back in the lineup and staying healthy as much as it is on winning.
During the MASS-CONNfusion tournament on Saturday, the Lancers were short a few grapplers that could have swayed the outcome of the meet.
Bristol Eastern was just shy of the title, placing second with a score of 175.5, while Ponaganset (RI) took first with 179 points.
“We were missing a couple guys, but that means others have to step up and for the most part they did,” Lancers head coach Bryant Lishness said. “The kids have to learn, and these type of tournaments show it, that everyone counts and every point matters. We have to go for the bonus points when we can and not give them up. We gave up some bonus points in the finals.”
Justin Marshall took an early shot to the face in round three in the 152-pound bracket against Southington’s Tagan Welch.
“At the time [Marshall] was winning by 12, but we pulled him,” Lishness said. “There’s no need to really push anything here. If you add him into the mix, it would’ve been a couple more points. Marshall will be back this week. We just didn’t want to take the chance. His head was fine, everything was clear, but his nose was crooked.”
Senior Noah Corliss stepped up for Bristol Eastern when Carson Sassu went down with a shoulder injury.
“All the wins mattered [Saturday],” Lishness said. “Corliss went 3-2 for us, so that was three wins and some big points in a tournament like this. That’s the type of stuff we need. Whether you medal or not, winning matches are important.”
And as a whole, while the Lancers placed high, it was not as well as some wrestlers had hoped.
“We could have done a lot better,” said Mikey Barrett, who won the 160-pound bracket. “One of our top placers that usually scores a lot of points for us in tournaments was knocked out with a broken nose and one of our lower weight classes lost in the semifinals, but as a whole we did pretty well.”
In the end, Bristol Eastern had five wrestlers make it to finals - Jordon Champagne (113 pounds), Thomas Nichols (120 pounds), Diego Fernandez (145 pounds), Barrett and Dylan Levesque (170 pounds). But out of those five, it was only Barrett who claimed first.
“All the guys that made the finals had a tough tournament,” Lishness said. “Ponaganset is a tough team, Cumberland is really good, Southington, New Milford, they all have really good teams and to place here and to make it to the finals shows us there’s a lot of potential when it comes to states for the guys, so I’m really pleased with them.
“It was a great tournament and you really want tournaments like this before you get to states.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org