Nonnewaug savors competitive matches, even when they lose
By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Connecticut Wrestling Online
WOODBURY, Jan. 24, 2002 --- Nearly a week afterward and Nonnewaug coach Dave Green was still excited about the match a 35-31 loss to Canton. It was only the fifth loss of the season in 21 dual meets for the Chiefs.
But Green reveled in the competitive match that went right down to the last bout.
"That was everything a high school match should be," Green said. "I would rather lose 10 matches like that than win 66-6. It was great. Every point was important in every match for both teams. At any one time, either wrestler would be right in the match."
Nonnewaug had a eight-point lead before Canton won three straight matches to take a 32-28 lead with two matches to go. Sophomore Andrew Lawlor (160) came up with a crucial 4-1 decision to trim Canton's lead to one, 32-31, with one match left.
The match came down to 171 pounds and Nonnewaug's Joe Ronalter against Canton's Chris Palozie with the winner giving his team the victory. Palozie got a takedown as time ran out in the third period to force overtime. After a scoreless one-minute OT, Palozie escaped in the second OT to earn a 8-7 decision and give Canton the victory.
Nonnewaug has been impressive this season with an 18-5 record and a 5-0 start in an expanded Berkshire League this season.
The Chiefs took a major step toward its fifth BL title in six years with a dominating 58-15 win over Terryville on Wednesday to clinch a tie for the championship. Only Thomaston on Feb. 6 stands in the way of sole possession of the BL title for the Chiefs.
"We've had a little bit of success but we still haven't had the same lineup for many matches," Green said. "We have wrestleoffs and kids fill in. The young kids, to their credit, are stepping up."
With nearly 40 wrestlers on the mat for each practice session, competition for the 14 varsity spots has been keen. One of the senior captains, Jim Ciriello (119/125) is having a hard time breaking into the starting lineup.
"This is the hardest working team that I have coached," said Green, who has been coaching wrestling for nearly 15 years. "They do what they need to do. They say its time to get to work and they get right to it."
Seniors Kevin Cook (130) and Pat McKirdy (112) have been two of the more successful wrestlers for the Chiefs but junior Kostas Hatzikoskas (125), sophomore Cory Patrick (135), junior Grayson Glover (140) and senior Joe Ronalter (171) have been solid contributors.
"It's been a tremendous team effort all along," said Green, in his second season as the Nonnewaug head coach. "We've had freshmen and the youngsters pick up the pace."
Lawlor's crucial win at 160 pounds in the Canton match against an experienced opponent helped give Nonnewaug a shot at winning the match.
The Chiefs can claim a league record sixth straight BL Tournament championship with a victory on Feb. 3 at Gilbert.
TOUGH PLACE FOR YOUTH: The Southwest Conference isn't the most friendly place to raise your young as the Pomperaug High wrestling team is finding out. The Panthers entered this week with an 8-13 record overall and 3-4 in the league that includes No. 11 New Milford (18-1) and defending Class M champion Bethel.
"We're young this year," Pomperaug coach Mike O'Keefe said. "Most of our lineup is first and second-year wrestlers. We only have a few upperclassmen."
Junior Josh Feldman (119) is having an outstanding year. He has lost only once to defending State Open champion Greg Pace of Bethel. Panther senior Tim Farrell (160) has only two losses. Seniors Andrew Perry (152), Justin Perreault (171) and Nate Ernst (275) have wrestled well along with junior Alan Bouchard (215).
"We have little goals each match," O'Keefe said. "Do the best your can, stay out there for six minutes. It's a learning experience."
CENTRAL ONE SHY OF RECORD: Bridgeport Central (26-1) won its 26th straight match Wednesday with a win over Greenwich, 47-22, and is one win shy of tying the state record for most wins in a single season set by Derby (27-0) in 1999-00. The Hilltoppers lost to Danbury, 54-21, in its season opener on Dec. 13.
PATRIOTS DOMINATE AT CLASSIC: Mount Anthony won the Eagle Classic for the sixth straight time. The Patriots had nine champions and earned 316 points - the second highest in tournament history. Killingly was second with 210 points while RHAM was third with 163.
In the 140-pound final, Mt. Anthony's Ben Lackey had 11 takedowns before he pinned Canton's Josh Kaplan in 5:39. It was Kaplan's first loss of the year after 22 straight wins. Lackey, currently ranked No. 3 in the country, became only the third wrestler in tournament history to win four straight titles. Mt. Anthony's Tyler Galipeau won four in a row from 1997-2000 while Bristol Central's Casey O'Connor also won four straight from 1996-99.
AROUND THE MAT: Holy Cross (8-8-1) finished fourth in the recent New Milford Tournament. Junior Shaun Canny won the 152-pound weight class while freshman Andrew Jackson (103) finished second. Junior David Martin (112), senior Frank Juliano (130) and senior Anthony Mineo
(189) each finished third.
New Milford had only champion but still was able to earn an impressive tournament championship, outlasting No. 7
Fairfield by nine points, 263-244. Bethel was third with 203 points. Holy Cross was fourth with 137. Dylan Tuz (112) won a title for New Milford but 12 other Green Wave wrestlers finished among the top four in their respective classes. Nine New Milford wrestlers reached the finals.
Terryville is currently 11-9 its most wins since 1992 when the Kangaroos finished 14-3. .... Seymour was sixth in the New Milford Tournament, led by Gary Vassas (160), who finished first. ... Nonnewaug missed the New Milford Tournament for the first time in many years to prepare for exams. The Chiefs take off the weekend before exams each year. .... Gilbert spoiled Northwestern Regional's first-ever home match with a 48-34 victory. ... Thomaston won its seventh match with a 55-22 win over Housatonic. ... Canton improved to 14-2 and remains unbeaten in the NCCC with a 53-15 win over Stafford. ... The first edition of the Connecticut High School Wrestling Record Book is available at
Connecticut Wrestling Online at http://www.homestead.com/ctwrestling7/index1.html. .