By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Connecticut Wrestling Online
AVON, Dec. 17, 2003 -- The 10th annual Silk City Classic was in danger of folding when tournament founder Eric Gremmo had to step down from his Manchester High coaching position and took a job out of state earlier this year. But Berlin High and coach Jim Day stepped up to help save the tournament.
Berlin agreed to host the tournament for a year on Sat. Jan. 24, and it will move back to East Catholic in January 2005 after the Eagles complete construction of a new gym. The tournament, which will feature 20 teams including perennial New England powerhouse Mt. Anthony of Vermont, is too big for the current East Catholic facility.
Mt. Anthony has won the last seven Silk City Classics championships and the competition has been top-notch. Last year's tournament didn't end until after 11 p.m. because there were few pins as most matches went a full six minutes. The finals didn't begin until 9:45 p.m.
"We didn't want to lose the competition with Mt. Anthony," Day said. "It will be like a state tournament in one day."
Among the teams in the field are Mt. Anthony, Berlin, Plainville, Simsbury, South Windsor, Bristol Central, Killingly, Newington and Windham High.
400 WINS: Simsbury coach Frank Chaves began the season one win shy of becoming the third coach in state history to record 400 career victories. Chaves, who has coached at Simsbury since 1977-78, began the season with a record of 399-125-20. The Trojans faced Bulkeley on opening night.
NFA's Carl Snitkin is the state career wins leader with 471 wins from 1975-99. His NFA teams went 471-80-7 and won nine Class LL championships. Steve Konopka became the latest member of the 400 win club last winter. Konopka, who began coached at Penney in East Hartford in 1975 and is the current East Hartford High mentor, is 401-235-6.
MOVING: It will be the final year for Jonathan Law-Milford and Foran-Milford in the Southwest Conference. The two Milford High Schools will join the Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC) next fall. A Milford school official said the schools joined the SCC to play more contests against schools in comparable size and cut down on travel time to away contests.
The Central Connecticut Conference will realign next fall so this is the final season with three divisions (West, South, East) in wrestling. Southington, New Britain, Simsbury, Glastonbury, Manchester and East Hartford, some of the biggest schools in the league, will compete in the CCC North next winter. Southington has won the last four CCC South championships while Glastonbury has won the last two CCC West crowns. Simsbury won 11 CCC West titles from 1988-2000.
RECORDS: The third edition of the Connecticut High School Record Book should be out shortly. Berlin's John Russo (275) set a new state single-season record a year ago with 38 pins, breaking the old mark of 36 set by Danbury's Tommy Howe (112) in 1998.
FRIEND WILL BE MISSED: Sportswriter/editor Bo Kolinsky of the Hartford Courant wasn't the biggest high school wrestling fan. But the difference was that he cared and made sure that wrestling wasn't ignored in Connecticut's largest daily newspaper.
In the early 1990s, when the Courant staff was larger, they had a reporter at every CIAC state meet. But as budget cutbacks and changes in priorities affected the high school staff, Kolinsky adapted. He went out to cover some meets and arranged for others to get the results to the Courant.
He helped this writer get the Connecticut state wrestling record book posted to the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance site on the Internet and would drop a word in the Courant when it was time to call for record book updates from coaches and fans around the state.
Kolinsky, 49, died on Dec. 14 of a heart attack in his South Windsor home and will be missed dearly by coaches, friends, fans and me. Our condolences to his wife, the Kolinsky family and all of his many, many friends.