Outstanding wrestler: Stephen Wingard, Housatonic, 182
Fastest Fall Winner: Marcus Slivinski (Plainville) 170 Lbs, 4 Pins, 9:37
OSW's determination helps Rams to win a state championship
By GERRY deSIMAS, Jr.
Connecticut Wrestling Online
HIGGNAUM, Feb. 18 – In four short years, Old Saybrook/Westbrook has climbed to the top in Class S. The Rams became the first co-op team in state history to win a CIAC wrestling championship Saturday with a solid 17½ win over defending champion Griswold, 180½ to 162.
Seven Ram wrestlers won medals, five made it to the finals and four came home as individual champions. Twelve of the 13 OSW wrestlers in the tournament earned at least one win.
Senior Eric Manuel (126), sophomore David Colvin (132), senior Dalton Ahern (152) and senior Elton Purvis (170) won state titles. For Ahern, now 36-0, it was his second straight championship.
Senior Anthony Onorato (145) finished second, dropping a 3-1 decision to Oxford sophomore Steve Persson. OSW’s Joel Schneider (113) went 5-1 with four straight victories in the consolation bracket to take third, picking up key points.
Once Old Saybrook/Westbrook took the lead, they gradually extended it. OSW led Griswold by two points after the semifinals. They extended it to nine after the next round and led by 11½ points going into the finals.
“The guys are amazing,” Old Saybrook/ Westbrook coach Eric Manuel said. “We are so blessed to have a group of guys who give you everything they have and then they dig down and try to give you some more.”
Leading by two in the third period, young Eric Manuel hit a takedown with 33 seconds remaining to clinch a 7-3 win over Griswold’s Dustin Falco. At 132 pounds, Colvin snapped a 2-2 tie with a reversal with 15 seconds left in the match for a 4-2 victory over Portland’s Josh Fernandez.
Ahern had four takedowns and two near falls in a 16-4 decision over Nonnewaug’s John D’Agostino at 152 pounds while teammate Elton Purvis beat Rocky Hill’s Chris Young, 3-1 in the 170 pound final.
It was just the fourth year for the co-op team. The Rams were second a year ago and fifth in 2010. The host school for the squad is actually Westbrook but the team is called OSW because they think it sounds better that way.
Griswold had six wrestlers win medals. Dylan Martel won at 113 pounds while Brandon Walsh won his third straight Class S title at 138 pounds. Falco and Aaron Wing (182) each finished second.
Griswold coach Dana Cooke said, “We had guys outwrestle their seeds which is what I want them to do. Because we wrestle in a tough league (ECC), the records aren’t as good as some of the other teams.
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Terryville had its best-ever finish since 1990 by taking third with 145½ points. Terryville’s Scott LaMarre (160) won his second straight title with a 4-3 decision over Windsor Locks freshman Khamri Thomas.
The Kangaroos had five wrestlers finish third -- Elliot Wilion (120), Sam Ferreira (126), Avery Ellegard (138) and Justin Pronovost (170). Ellegard got a two-point near fall with 1 second remaining to beat Thomaston’s Rigon Gilani to take third while a two-point reversal with 43 seconds left lifted Wilion to a 5-3 victory.
“We wrestled very well,” Terryville coach Peter Veleas said. Eleven different wrestlers scored for the Kangaroos. “We improved a lot over the year.”
LaMarre (39-0) became Terryville’s first two-time champion in 20 years with a 4-3 decision in the 160-pound final over freshman Khamri Thomas of Windsor Locks thanks a one-point escape with 1:51 remaining in the third period.
He took a 2-0 lead with a first period takedown. Twice in the second period, he got inside on takedown attempts but couldn’t finish. Thomas got a takedown with 20 seconds left for a 3-2 lead but LaMarre tied it seven seconds later with an escape.
“It feels good,” LaMarre said. “It’s an accomplishment. I kept shooting and shooting but he was able to keep me away from him.”
As a team, Terryville's best finish was a second place finish behind Avon in 1990. Terryville's last state champion with mulitiple titles was Diego Quintero, who won three straight Class S titles from 1990-92.
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A year ago, the Class S wrestling tournament was a lost opportunity for Thomaston’s Tyler Margison. Just days after winning his first Berkshire League title, Margison’s appendix ruptured and he was forced to watch the tournament from the sideline. He made his second chance count Saturday. Margison had four pins to remain undefeated and win a state title at 285 pounds.
In the finals, Margison led 2-0 before he flattened Haddam-Killingworth’s Greg Murray, throwing him to his back and ending the match in a hurry with a pin in 2:31. “It feels great,” Margison said. “I can’t describe how this feels. I dedicated the win to my grandmother who passed away last week.”
“I just let my wrestling do the talking,” said Margison, who is now 37-0.
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Housatonic senior Steve Wingard (182) wasn’t going to let an opportunity for a state championship slip through his fingers. He lost in the finals as a freshman and last season, he was 17-0 before his season ended prematurely after he broke some school rules.
Wingard (36-1) had four takedowns in a 12-7 semifinal win over Andrew Pennacchio of Holy Cross to earn a spot in the championship match against Griswold’s top-seeded Aaron Wing.
Wing was very aggressive early and took a 2-0 lead with a takedown just 12 seconds into the match. But once Wingard hit a two-point reversal with 17 seconds left in the first period, it seemed to sting Wing.
He never scored another point as Wingard scored eight straight to earn a hard-fought 8-2 decision. After escaping early in the second period, Wingard quickly took down Wing and put him to his back for a 7-2 edge.
“I expected it to be a brawl,” Wingard said. “He came at me hard right away. I just tried to capitalize on his mistakes and it worked.” Housatonic coach Tom Medonis said, “Steve just kept pushing, pushing and pushing. He didn’t make any mistakes.”
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Goodwin Tech’s freshman Joseph Adams was the No. 13 seed at 132 pounds in Class S but he went 4-3 to finish sixth and earn a spot in the State Open. Adams trains with Bristol Central during the season.
Adams earned his berth in the Open with a 3-1 win over No. 7 Eric Czapor of Holy Cross. After dropping a 4-2 decision to Oxford’s Paul Chavez in the consolation semifinals, Adams (21-12) lost a tough 2-0 decision to Nonnewaug’s Austin Hodges in the fifth place bout.
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Seymour junior Xavier Vidal (120) surged in the third period to win his semifinal match against Thomaston’s Clif Aquino and earn a spot in the finals. Tied at 2-2 in the third period, Vidal escaped with 1:07 remaining for a 3-2 lead. He clinched the match with a two-point takedown at the buzzer for a 5-2 decision.
In the final against Killingly’s Riley Donlon, Vidal got the first takedown in the second period for a 2-1 lead but Donlon got a reversal with 23 seconds left to a 3-2 lead. In the third period, Vidal nearly escaped twice in the final 30 seconds but Donlon clung to his leg to secure the championship
Vidal’s teammate Brandon Straborny (126) nearly finished third. In the consolation final, he trailed Terryville’s Sam Ferreira 5-0 in the third period. But he got a reversal and a three-point near fall to tie the match at 5-5. Ferreira escaped with 33 seconds left and got a takedown with 17 seconds left for an 8-5 win.
“A few kids that beat (Straborny) in the regular season, he beat today,” Seymour coach Joe Perrucci said.
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Oxford coach Ben Blue wrestled under Hall of Fame coach Buster Jadach at Derby High. The Wolverines sometimes train with Derby.
Blue had a big smile on his face after sophomore Steve Persson beat top-seeded Brian Dobek of Derby in the semifinals at 145 pounds, 3-2. Persson (24-4) escaped with 33 seconds left and held Dobek off for the win.
“We train with Derby. Buster was my coach. I know they like to win in the third period. Steve pushed the tempo at the end and beat them at their own game,” Oxford coach Ben Blue said.
Persson won the first state title in school history with a 3-1 win over OSW's Anthon Onorato. Oxford finished sixth with 119 points. Earlier in the year, Blue had hoped his team could contend for the championship. Joe Carbonaro, who skipped last week’s SWC championships to get healthy, finished second at 220 while Ben Blue (160) took third and Paul Chavez (132) finished fourth.
Carbonaro got a two-point near fall with eight seconds left to win his semifinal match over Griswold’s Jermaine Frazer, 4-2.
In the final, Carbonaro and Christopher Samboy of Hartford Classical went into overtime tied at 1-1. With 10 seconds left in the first OT, Carbonaro tried to throw Samboy but he slipped and Samboy was able to fall on him and slip behind for the winning takedown.
“They’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do,” coach Blue said. “I can’t think of a single match when the kids didn’t give their all and that is all I can ask of them.”
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For the third time in the last four years, Housatonic has produced a state champion in wrestling. Steve Wingard joined the club with a championship at 182 pounds. Dom Ghi (119) won last year and Sam Schwartz (160) in 2009 was the first Mountaineer state champion since 1995.
All three wrestled in youth clubs in the northwest corner and received some training and assistance from their fathers. Schwartz’s father, Andrew, is the current coach at Northwestern Regional. Ghi’s father, Phil, was a two-time medalist for Housatonic, taking second in Class S and third at the State Open in 1980. Wingard’s father, Jerry, was also a two-time medalist, taking second in 1977. Jerry Wingard founded and coached the Lewis Mills team for six years.
MAT DUST: At 106 pounds, Old Lyme freshman Lyiam Mathis prevailed in a nail-biter. Killingly’s Saylee Phongsampnanh took one point lead with a reversal with 30 seconds remaining but Mathis hit a reversal with 7 seconds left to earn a 7-6 victory. Mathis works out with H-K. Phongsampnanh wrestled for Ellis Tech a year ago and was third in Class M. … : Thomaston’s Jeff Desautels (145) was seeded second and won his quarterfinal match by pin on Friday night. But he suffered a concussion and withdrew from the tournament. . … Somers’ junior captain Kyle Foster had three pins to get into the finals at 195 pounds where he outlasted Killingly’s Jake Whitehead, 5-2 to win a state title. Foster had a pair of pins in under two minutes and earned a spot in the finals by pinning Derby’s Luis Casco in 3:18.... Thomaston will be looking for a co-op partner next winter, school principal John Perrucci said. The Bears had just seven wrestlers in the BL Tournament and had just 10 athletes on the team. Three will graduate in June. “On the mat, it was a successful year,” Thomaston coach Shawn Canney said. “If we only counted the bouts on the mat, we would have lost only two or three matches. We didn’t lose to (many) teams on the mat. Forfeits just killed us.” The Bears were 6-15 overall and 1-5 in the league.