Gillen dominates, wins 2nd straight New England title
By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Connecticut Wrestling Online
NEW HAVEN, March 5 – There was no holding back for Shelton’s Patrick Gillen in his final high school match in Connecticut.
Gillen dominated at 215 pounds to win his second straight New England championship Saturday night. Gillen (49-0) won two matches by tech fall and two by pin. For the third straight week, he was voted as the outstanding wrestler of the tournament.
Gillen was one of five Connecticut wrestlers to win a New England title. Griswold’s Brandon Walsh (135) became the first Wolverine in school history to win a New England title with a takedown 10 seconds into overtime. New Milford’s Conor Kirkegard (103) won a title with a pin while Glastonbury’s Tyler Keane (112) became the first New England champion from his school and Hand’s Joseph DeMichele (285) grabbed a championship with an escape in triple overtime.
With two finals and three medalwinners, Hand was the top state team in the tournament with 70 points. New Milford was tied for eighth with 47 points.
Conard’s Lucas Muntz (145), Newington’s Chris Chorzepa (152), Fairfield Warde’s Mike Sullivan (160), Middletown’s Devon Carrillo (171) and Bacon Academy’s Aren Norman (189) each finished third.
Gillen relished the challenge of competing at the New England tournament. “I was looking to dominate,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave any questions. I took it to everyone I wrestled. I wanted to wrestle to the best of my ability.”
In the finals against Brendan Battles-Santos of Nauset, Mass., Gillen had three near falls in the first period of a 19-2 victory by technical fall. In the semifinals, he beat Kyle McGuire of Mansfield, Mass., by technical fall, 17-1. Gillen also had two pins. Battles-Santos and McGuire finished first and second, respectively, in Massachusetts.
“He is on top of his game,” Shelton coach Bill Maloney said. “Pat is laid back and takes one match at a time. He doesn’t let the pressure bother him.” Gillen (200-14 career) will wrestle next fall at the University of Virginia.
RECORD FOURTH TITLE FOR OWLS: Timberlane High Barry Chooljian knew he was going to have to test his Owls this season. Coming off three straight New England championships, Chooljian knew getting his Owls from Plaistow, N.H., to grow during the regular season was going to be difficult.
So he made it tough on them. Timberlane went to the University of Delaware in December to compete in the Beast of the East tournament. In January, they were in Pennsylvania for the National Duals Festival. They wrestled in the Lowell, Mass., Holiday Classic and the tough Redskin Invitational in Sanford, Maine.
“That kept us sharp,” Chooljian said. “Not one of our wrestlers came in undefeated. We had a tough schedule that helped keep us focused.”
That toughness paid off at the New England tournament as the Owls won a record fourth straight New England championship with a dominating 133-76 win over Mt. Anthony Union of Bennington, Vt. The Owls set a tournament record with 133 points. Hand of Madison, Conn., was third with 70 points.
Timberlane had nine wrestlers in the tournament. All nine scored. Six wrestlers finished in the top six to win medals. Brothers Nate Lawrence (160) and Nick Lawrence (171) each won New England titles. “This has been a great run,” Chooljian said. “I’m so proud of the kids.”
Senior Ben Tammany (285) dropped a 3-2 decision in triple OT in the finals while junior Zach Bridson (112) rallied after a stunning semifinal loss to finish third. Shane Tremblay (189) took fourth while Andrew Tanner (145) finished fifth.
In the semifinals, Bridson led 15-5 late in the third period but got stuck in a cradle and was pinned by Mike Mui of Hingham, Mass., with one second left on the clock. Bridson kept his head up with a 13-3 and 10-2 decision to close out the tournament.
It was Timberlane’s ninth New England championship. Their closest rival is Mt. Anthony, which has won six. The Patriots last won in 2004. Until the Owls won four in a row, no New England team had ever won more than two straight tournaments.
The following is highlights of Connecticut wrestlers in the respective weight classes.
Junior Conor Kirkegard had pins in the semifinals and championship match to become the first New England champion from New Milford High, finish the season undefeated at 42-0 and set a new school record for pins (35) in a single season.
Kirkegard pinned Massachusetts champion Christian Monserrat of Methuen, Mass. in the second period in 2:42 in the finals. It was the first loss of the season for the freshman, now 51-1. “I peaked at the right time,” Kirkegard said. “The way I always prepare got me here so there was no need to change it.”
“He did his work. He watched a lot of film,” New Milford coach Chris Piel said. “Now he has to go out and make it happen and he is did that.”
After a two-point loss to Monserrat in the semifinals, Hand’s William Crisco won a pair of tough consolation round bouts to finish third. Crisco slipped past Eric Benevides of Durfee, Mass., 3-2 in the consolation semifinals and outlasted Maine’s Connor Sheehan of Fryeburg Academy, 7-3.
Glastonbury’s Tyler Keane celebrated his birthday in style with an 11-1 decision over Mike Mui of Hingham, Mass., to win a New England championship. With a takedown and a pair of near falls, Keane (46-1, 130-8 career) led 6-0 after one period. A takedown with seven seconds left in the second period extended the lead to 9-0.
“He did his homework,” Glastonbury coach Rob Levesque said of Keane. “He stayed out of the positions that (Mui) scores in. (Tyler) knew exactly what he had to do.”
Keane had hoped to wrestle defending champion Zach Bridson of Timberlane, N.H. in the New England final. But leading 15-5 in the semifinals, Bridson got caught in a cradle by Mui and was pinned with one second left in regulation.
To win the championship, Keane beat three of the top four finishers from the Massachusetts tournament. Mui was the Massachusetts champion. Keane beat Lowell’s Andrew Gauthier, who finished second in Massachusetts, with a 2-0 victory in the quarterfinals. Keane also beat Sarith Has of Methuen in the second round, 6-0. Keane is the first New England champion from Glastonbury.
No Connecticut wrestlers finished among the top six in this weight class. In the rematch of the Massachusetts state final a week ago, junior Ryan O’Boyle of Central Catholic won by a technical fall, 19-4 in 5:55, over Paul Sughrue of Methuen. A week earlier, it was Sughrue with a 5-2 decision to win the state title and the outstanding wrestler award. O’Boyle improved to 47-1 and 128-15 while Sughrue finished the year at 46-2. O’Boyle is 95-5 over the past two seasons.
Nonnewaug’s Tyler Tilbe (125) had a different experience in the New England tournament. For the first time in a year, Tilbe lost a match. In fact, he lost twice.
His first loss came to eventual New England champion Massachusetts’ Kyle Visconti of Malden Catholic. Tilbe (44-2) got a takedown to take a 2-0 lead but Visconti took advantage of small opening, stepped over and scored five quick points with a reversal and a three-point near fall. From that point, Tilbe had to take chances and they didn’t pan out in a 10-2 defeat.
Tilbe won a pair of matches in the consolation round but gave up three takedowns in a 10-7 loss to Derek Adams of Chariho, Rhode Island.
“Everybody pushes here, all the time,” Tilbe said. “In Connecticut, kids will get a lead and ride it out. Here, you don’t stop. People don’t stop. You can’t coast here with a lead.”
With a 6-1 win over Paolo Tavares of New Bedford, Mass., to finish fifth, Tilbe set a new school record with his 160th career victory. He is 160-23 with three Class S title and two State Open championships.
“It was impressive,” Nonnewaug coach David Green said. “He was in a very tough weight class. He was in every match. He still won five matches against some very good competition.”
Visconti won the New England championship with a 10-3 decision over Matt Buco of Greater Lawrence in a rematch of the Massachusetts state final from a week earlier. Buco (47-2, 183-15) won the Massachusetts title with a 4-3 decision.
Hand’s Ed Carroll went to overtime in his semifinal match with New Hampshire champion Dominic Farrar of Pinkerton before getting a takedown and a two-point near fall with 26 seconds left in OT for a 7-3 decision. Carroll led 1-0 in the second period after getting an escape but Farrar got a takedown with 40 seconds left to take a 2-1 lead. Carroll took a 3-2 lead with a reversal with 17 seconds remaining. Carroll let Farrar escape in the third period and tried for the match-winning takedown. It didn’t come until overtime.
“He has maintained his focus,” Hand co-coach Erik Delehanty said. “He has a gas tank that not too many wrestlers have. He does the little things that make a difference – the sprints, the extra sessions with the coaches. It’s not flashy.”
2011 New England Tournament
At New Haven Athletic Center
Team results – 1. Timberlane NH 133, 2. Mt. Anthony Union VT 76, 3. Hand 70, 4. Methuen, MA 66½, 5. Pinkerton NH 62, 6. Warwick Veterans RI 57½, 7. Malden Catholic MA 52, 8. Cranston West RI and New Milford 47, 10. Springfield Central MA 44, 11. Glastonbury and Lincoln Sudbury MA 34, 13. Shelton 31, 14. Conard, East Providence RI and Lowell MA 29, 17. Cumberland RI and Foxboro MA 27, 19. Central Catholic MA 26½, 20. Goffstown NH and New Bedford MA 26; 22. Bacon Academy and Newton South MA 25; 24. Griswold, Hingham MA, Needham MA and Norwalk 24; 28. Bethel 23½, 29. Nauset MA 22½, 30. Oyster River NH, St. John’s Prep MA 22; 32. Chariho RI, Hale Ray and Middletown 21½; 35. Fairfield Warde 21; 36. Greater Lawrence MA and Scarborough ME 20; 38. Newington and Thomaston 19; 40. Ridgefield 18; 41. Torrington and Hendricken RI 17; 43. Bridgewater Raynham MA, Otter Valley VT and Windham High 16; 46. Fryeburg Academy ME and Tyngsboro MA 15; 48. Algonquin MA, Camden Hills ME, Durfee MA, Exeter-West Greenwich RI, Killingly, Manchester Memorial NH, Natick MA and Quabbin MA 14.
Other Connecticut teams: 56. Nonnewaug and Xavier 13; 66. Bristol Eastern and NFA 10; 79. Greenwich and South Windsor 7; 89. Montville and Somers 5; 96. Brookfield and Westhill 4; 111. Cheney Tech 3; 118. Guilford, Plainville and Stamford 2; 133. Danbury, Darien, New Britain, Trumbull and Old Saybrook/Westbrook 0
103: Championship: Conor Kirkegard, New Milford pin Christian Monserrat, Methuen, MA 2:38; Third: William Crisco, Hand, dec. Connor Sheehan, Fryeburg, ME 7-3; Fifth: Eric Benevides, Durfee, MA dec. John Altieri, Warwick RI, 2-1
112: Championship: Tyler Keane, Glastonbury dec. Mike Mui, Hingham, MA 11-1; Third: Zach Bridson, Timberland, NH dec. Matia Alverez, Henrickson RI, 10-2; Fifth: Andrew Gauthier, Lowell, MA dec. Andrew Chase, Bristol Eastern, 4-1.
119: Championship: Ryan O'Boyle, Central Catholic, MA tech. fall Paul Sughrue, Methuen, MA 19-4, 5:55; Third: Zak Hale, Mt. Anthony VT dec. Jon Costa, New Bedford, MA, 6-4; Fifth: Mizam Tamaradze, West Springfield MA dec. Brad Meyers, Lowell MA, 4-0
125: Championship: Kyle Visconti, Malden Catholic, MA dec. Matt Buco, Greater Lawrence, MA 10-3; Third: Derek Adams, Chariho RI dec. Joao Vicente, East Providence RI, 10-5; Fifth: Tyler Tilbe, Nonnewaug dec. Paolo Tavares, New Bedford, MA 6-1.
130: Championship: Mike Meyers, Warwick, RI dec. Edward Carroll, Hand, 5-2. Third: James Carroll, Needham, MA dec. Miguel Calixto, Windham, 5-2; Fifth: Erik Travers, Cumberland RI medical forfeit over Dominic Farrar, Pinkerton NH
135: Championship: Brandon Walsh, Griswold dec. Jeff Cole, Oyster River, NH 8-3 (OT); Third: Ricondo Cole, Cranston West RI dec. Brandon Beauregard, Quabbin MA, 8-2; Fifth: Matt Libby, Bridgewater Raynham MA medical forfeit over James Smith, Natick MA
140: Championship: Everet Desilets, Cranston West RI dec. T.J. Crabtree, St. John's Prep, MA 5-1; Third: David Owens, Pinkerton NH dec. Ryan Niven, Tyngsboro MA, 5-1; Fifth: Ben Price, Mt. Anthony VT medical forfeit over Mal Shea, Goffstown, NH
145: Championship: Devin Visconti, Malden Catholic MA dec. CJ Doherty, Methuen, MA 1-0; Third: Lucas Muntz, Conard pin Zachary Cooke, Killingly, 3:59; Fifth: Andrew Tanner, Timberlane, NH medical forfeit over Anthony Terlizzi, New Milford.
152: Championship: Gabe Turetsky, Newton South MA dec. Bemnet Banks, Springfield Central, MA 4-3; Third: Christopher Chorzepa, Newington dec. Dylan Foley, Algonquin, MA 8-6; Fifth: Caleb Cejka, Goffstown, NH dec. Nick Cipriano, NFA, 2-1.
160: Championship: Nate Lawrence, Timberlane, NH dec. Dillon Carter, Hale Ray, 7-1; Third: Mike Sullivan, Fairfield Warde dec. Jacob Powers, Camden Hills, ME 7-1; Fifth: Anthony Brooks, Central MA medical forfeit over Jacob Straight, Pathfinder Regional MA
189: Championship: Victor Avery, Foxboro (Mass.) dec. Brandon Riggins, Norwalk, 13-3; Third: Aren Norman, Bacon Academy dec. Shane Tremblay, Timberlane, NH 4-0; Fifth: Mark Dilley, Thomaston pin Spencer Foucher, Mt. Anthony (Vt.), 2:48.
215: Championship: Patrick Gillen, Shelton tech. fall Brendan Battles-Santos, Nauset, MA 19-2, 5:30; Third: Michael Cyr, Scarborough, ME dec. Dean Tsopanides, Torrington, 11-6; Fifth: Kyle McGuire, Mansfield, MA pin Tyler Baulier, Merrimack NH, 3:43
285: Championship: Joseph Demichele, Hand dec. Ben Tammany, Timberlane, NH 3-2, 3 OT; Third: Zach Smerlas, Lincoln-Sudbury, MA dec. Christopher Valenti, Bethel, 3-2; Fifth: Jesse Webb, Mt. Anthony VT medical forfeit over Steven Dwight, Manchester Memorial NH
Most exciting final: 135 pounds – Brandon Walsh, Griswold dec. Jeff Cole, Oyster River NH
Outstanding wrestler: Patrick Gillen, Shelton, 215 pounds
n Mike Meyers of Warwick Veterans, RI outlasted Hand's Ed Carroll, 5-2 to win the New England title
New England final (130)
n New Milford's Conor Kirkegard (103) wins first New England title in school history with pin in 2:38 of Christian Monserrat of Metheun, Mass.
New England final (103)
n Hand's Joseph Demichele beats Timberlane NH Ben Tammany in triple OT to win a New England title.
New England final (285)
n Shelton's Patrick Gillen (215) wins his 2nd straight New England title and the Outstanding Wrestler award with his win over Brendan Battles-Santos of Nauset MA
New England final (215)
New England final (189)
n Nate Lawrence of Timberlane, NH beats Dillon Carter of Hale-Ray, 7-1 to win a New England title. His brother, Nick, won a few minutes later at 171.
New England final (160)
n Griswold's Brandon Walsh beats Jeff Cole of Oyster River, N.H., 8-3 in OT to win the New England title. The match was voted best match of the finals.
New England final (135)
n Foxboro (Mass.) Victor Avery (189) beat Norwalk's Brandon Riggins, 13-3 to win the New England championship.
In the finals, four-time Rhode Island champion Mike Meyers of Warwick Vets won his third New England championship with a dominating 5-2 decision over Carroll. Meyers had two takedowns and essentially let Carroll escape for his two points. With the win, Meyers (163-2) earned a spot in the New England Council Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Windham sophomore Miguel Calixto came in fourth after dropping a 5-2 decision to James Carroll of Needham, Mass. Tied at 1-1 in the third period, Carroll got a takedown near the edge of the match with 49 seconds remaining but Calixto got away seven seconds later to cut the lead to one, 3-2. But Carroll was able to clinch the bout with a takedown with nine seconds left.
Calixto had won three straight bouts in the consolation round after a 3-1 quarterfinal loss to James Carroll earlier on Saturday.
For most of the New England tournament, Griswold junior Brandon Walsh rallied from behind to earn victories. “He’s had a tough day,” Griswold coach Dana Cook said. “Every match he has been in he has been behind right away. But he knows how to win a match. It’s not the plan but he knows how to do it.”
In the semifinals, Walsh won with a takedown with 31 seconds left. In the quarterfinals, he prevailed with a takedown in overtime while in the third round, he earned a one-point decision.
In the championship match against Jeff Cole of Oyster River, New Hampshire, Walsh built a 3-0 lead with a first period takedown and a second period escape. But in the third period, Cole escaped with 1:14 remaining and got a takedown with 57 seconds left to tie the match at 3-3.
But in overtime, Walsh came up big, scrambling to earn a takedown to win the first New England championship in Griswold history with an 8-3 decision. Once Walsh secured the takedown, Cole also gave up three back points. Walsh finished the season undefeated with a record of 44-0.
“(Brandon) scrambled and was lucky enough to keep his leg high enough that (Cole) gave up a bit because (Cole) had the takedown,” Cook said. “But Brandon kept pushing and wrestling until the whistle blew. That was a great finish.”
In the semifinals, Walsh rallied from a 2-0 deficit with three points in the third period for a 3-2 decision over James Smith of Natick, Mass. Smith took a 2-0 lead when he took advantage of failed takedown attempt by Walsh with 34 seconds left in the first period. Riding on top, Walsh couldn’t turn Smith in the second period.
Walsh outlasted Maine’s Dan DelGallo of Gardiner, 7-5 in overtime to win in the quarterfinals. In the second round, Walsh beat Scott McQuaide of Chelmsford, Mass, 5-4.
No Connecticut wrestler finished among the top six. Two undefeated wrestlers met in the New England final. Everet Desilets of Cranston West, R.I., outlasted T.J. Crabtree of St. John’s Prep, 5-1. Desilets finished the year 54-0 and his first New England title. He is 171-7 for his career. Crabtree, who won the Massachusetts title, finished 54-1 with a career mark of 192-37.
Conard High Sophomore Lucas Muntz rebounded from a one-point loss in the quarterfinals at 145 pounds to win four straight consolation round victories to finish third. “You have to pick your shots wisely,” Muntz said. “You can’t just go in wildly. Everyone knows how to counter (takedown attempts) and stop your shot.”
A week after winning the State Open championship, Muntz (45-4) won his opening match by pin before dropping a 7-6 decision to eventual finalist C.J. Doherty of Methuen, Mass. Tied at 2-2, he made a mistake and gave up five points in an instant. Muntz rallied to trim the lead to one with a two-point reversal with 10 seconds remaining. But there wasn’t enough time to score again.
He beat Maine’s Joe Thornton by a 6-1 score setting up a rematch with Xavier’s Tyler Cunningham, who beat Muntz in the finals of the Class LL tournament. This time, Muntz took control with the first takedown of the match in the second period. Leading by one with about 48 seconds remaining, Muntz got a two-point takedown with 18 seconds left to ice a 7-4 victory.
“After he lost to Tyler in the Class LL final, Lucas became more focused,” Conard High coach Chris Glowacki said. “He thought about what he needed to be successful and did it in practice. He worked on leg counter (moves), his pinning technique and his tilts (exposing his opponent’s back to the mat). He became more aggressive. He has been wrestling his match. He’s not wrestling their style.”
After winning a match by forfeit because his opponent was injured, Muntz pinned Killingly’s Zach Cooke in 3:59 to finish third. He is the first Conard medalist since Jesse Wrubel finished fifth in 2004.
Devin Visconti of Malden Catholic, the brother of Kyle who won the New England title at 125, finished with an undefeated season (45-0) after a 1-0 decision over C.J. Doherty of Metheun, Mass. It was a rematch of the Massachusetts that Visconti won a week earlier, 3-0.
After dropping a 19-7 decision in the second round on Friday night to Vermont champion Devin Grammo, Newington’s Chris Chorzepa refused to lose again. Chorzepa won six straight consolation round bouts to finish third with an 8-6 decision over Dylan Foley of Algonquin, Mass. Included in the run was a 6-2 win over NFA’s Nick Cipriano in the consolation semifinals.
It hasn’t been an easy season for Hale-Ray’s Dillon Carter. He wrestled three years at Xavier High, finishing fifth at 152 pounds at the State Open and third in Class LL as a junior. However after transferring to his hometown school, he had to sit out half the season due to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s transfer rules. He was allowed to workout with the wrestlers at Middletown High but wasn’t allowed to compete until January 14.
And once he was eligible to compete, he found matches hard to get, especially with his previous success. As a one-man team, opposing teams don’t have to wrestle you. Carter managed to wrestle in seven matches (going 6-1) to qualify for the Class S tournament, which he won. At the State Open, he finished second dropping a 2-1 decision to Devon Covone of Bacon Academy in the championship match.
Carter worked out with Middletown’s Devon Carrillo (171) in practice and began to get stronger as the season progressed. “Working with Devon really pushed (Carter) to get better and better,” Middletown High coach Mark Fong said. “To score on Devon in practice, he really had to work hard.”
That hard work paid off in a second place in the New England tournament for Carter, who lost to Nate Lawrence of Timberlane, N.H., 7-1, giving up three takedowns. But that doesn’t diminish from an outstanding tournament for Carter.
He beat Vermont’s Jason Welch of Mt. Anthony by tech fall, 15-0, in 4:34 and earned a 6-0 quarterfinal win over Rhode Island champion Mike Georges. In the semifinals, Carter prevailed in triple overtime with a 3-2 decision over Jacob Powers of Camden Hills, Maine.
The match was tied 1-1 after regulation. In the second OT period, Powers took a 1-0 lead with an escape but Carter escaped with 21 seconds left to tie the bout at 2-2. In the final 30-second overtime period, Carter escaped with 18 seconds remaining to earn the win.
Mike Sullivan of Fairfield Warde, who dropped a 4-2 decision to Lawrence in the semifinals, finished third with a 7-1 win over Powers.
Middletown’s Devon Carrillo and Ridgefield’s Travis Tiger each lost tough semifinal bouts. Carrillo dropped a 3-0 decision to eventual champion Nick Lawrence of Timberlane, N.H. while Tiger fell to Corey Beck of Pinkerton, N.H., 6-3.
Carrillo and Tiger met in the consolation final with Carrillo earning a 10-3 decision thanks to a 5-1 surge in the second period. A week ago, Carrillo beat Tiger, 6-5 for the State Open title.
The final was a rematch of last week’s New Hampshire state final that Lawrence won 5-1. Here at the New England tournament, Lawrence (42-3) prevailed, 3-2.
It was quite a season for Norwalk High senior Brandon Riggins. He began wrestling at Norwalk after transferring from Bixby, Oklahoma. But he was no stranger to New England having spent two years at East Longmeadow High in western Massachusetts.
Riggins finished second in the FCIAC Tournament, won the Class L title and took third at the State Open. He wrestled well at the New England tournament, finishing second to Victor Avery of Foxboro, Mass., 13-3.
In the semifinals against Vermont’s Spencer Foucher of Mt. Anthony, Riggins (24-3) broke open a one-point match with a takedown with 20 seconds left in the second period for a 4-1 lead. Riggins got a key takedown with 1:08 remaining in an 8-3 victory. In the quarterfinals, he beat former teammate Kyle Humphries of East Longmeadow, 13-8.
Bacon Academy’s Aren Homan finished third with a 4-0 decision over Shane Tremblay of Timberlane.
Thomaston’s Mark Dilley, who won his second straight Class S title two weeks ago, and was fourth at the State Open, finished fifth. Dilley won five of six matches in the consolation bracket. After winning by pin in his first match, Dilley lost 14-5 to eventual New England champion Victor Avery of Foxboro, Mass. Dilley (44-4) won four in a row, including a 7-5 overtime decision, before dropping a 2-0 decision to Shane Tremblay of Timberlane, N.H., who exposed Dilley’s back with two seconds left in regulation for a two-point near fall. But Dilley rallied to win his finale, pinning Vermont’s Spencer Foucher in 2:48.
“I’m extremely proud of him,” Thomaston coach Shaun Canney said. “After he lost his second match, he could have put his shoes away. But he wanted it. He wanted to place. Many of the kids were technically superior to him but was just too stubborn to lose.”
In his overtime win over Kyle Humphries of East Longmeadow, Mass., Dilley scored a two-point takedown in the final five seconds to force OT. In the extra session, he used a headlock to get the winning takedown. Dilley was the first wrestler from Thomaston to compete and earn a medal at the New England tournament.
Torrington High senior Dean Tsopanides is a two-time All-State football player, looking to attend a prep school next fall to help him prepare for his dream of playing Division I football at the collegiate level.
He has been wrestling for just three years. After finishing fourth, he’s not quite sure he can leave the sport behind. “I don’t want to give this up,” he said. “It’s the challenge you face out here. There is no greater feeling than winning a match that is tight.”
It took a while for Tsopanides to find some competition this season. He went 26-1 in the regular season, winning most by pin. He won the Class L state championship and finished fourth at the State Open a week ago.
After losing twice at the Open, he vowed to come back ready to compete at the New England tournament.
At the New England tournament, he didn’t let a 3-1 loss in his second match to Vermont champion Adam Reed of Spaulding, Vt., slow him down on Friday night. He rallied for a 4-1 decision in the consolation round to remain alive in the tournament. On Saturday, he won four straight to earn a spot in the consolation final. He finished fourth after a 11-6 loss to Michael Cyr of Scarborough, Maine.
Among those four wins was a 3-2 decision over Xavier’s Sean Marian, who was second at the Open a week ago. Tsopanides got the first takedown in the second period and a one-point escape early in the third period.
In the consolation semifinals, Tsopanides (42-5) trailed by two after giving up a reversal to Kyle McGuire of Mansfield, Mass., in double overtime. With 14 seconds remaining, Tsopanides escaped and took down McGuire with five seconds remaining for a thrilling 4-3 decision.
Tsopanides spent the week working out with Thomaston’s Mark Dilley, who is a bit lighter at 189 pounds and former Northwestern Regional wrestler Chris Marks, who won a State Open title in 2005.
Hand’s Joseph Demichele used a pair of overtime decisions in the semifinals and championship match to win a New England championship. In the finals, Ben Tammany of Timberlane, N.H. escaped with 1:51 left in the third period to tie the bout at 1-1. In the second OT, both men escaped, sending the bout to the third OT where Demichele escaped with 22 seconds remaining to win the title.
In the semifinals, Demichele was penalized for stalling with two seconds left in regulation to tie his match with New Hampshire’s Steven Dwight of Manchester Memorial at 3-3 and send it into overtime. Dwight had escaped with 1:44 remaining to cut the lead to one.
Both men escaped in the second overtime so it went to the third overtime where Demichele escaped to earn a 5-4 decision.
Four men inducted in Hall of Fame
Four men were inducted into the New England Council’s Hall of Fame before the championship matches. Buster Jadach, the Derby High coach who is the all-time leader in career wins in Connecticut, was inducted into the Hall of Fame along with New Hampshire official Henry Marsh, Vermont coach and official Jack Huntsman and long-time St. John’s Prep coach Manny Costa from Massachusetts.
Jadach has 513 career wins and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame last April by the Connecticut chapter of the Hall. Marsh was an official for 34 years in New Hampshire and has been a high school and NCAA official since 1967.
Huntsman helped organize the first state wrestling tournament in New Hampshire in February 1968 and the first official state tournament in 1970 along with helping to organize the Vermont Officials Association. Costa has a career record of 451-126-5 in 21 years at. St. John’s Prep. Twice, the Boston Globe has named Costa has the state’s Division I coach of the year.