Non-stop wrestling lifts Martin to
New England title
By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Connecticut Wrestling Online
SIMSBURY, March 5, 2005 – It was easily the most entertaining bout among the championship matches in the recent New England wrestling tournament in North Andover, Mass., between bouncing Joey Martin of Simsbury and stalking Casey Boyle of nearby Lowell.
Martin was a bundle of frenetic energy on the wrestling mat always moving, always working while Boyle carefully circled the mat, probing and looking for that one moment of weakness to which he could launch his attack.
Boyle was the defending New England champion at 119 pounds and the crowd favorite who thrived on winning close decisions. A week earlier, he won his fourth straight Massachusetts title by hitting a reversal with 32 seconds left for a 2-1 victory.
At the New England Tournament, he had a pair of two-point decisions before winning his semifinal bout with a one-point escape with 8.7 seconds left in the second overtime to win, 2-1.
But there would be no last-second heroics on this evening for Boyle. Martin took control in the third period and held on for a 6-4 victory to win his first New England championship at 119 pounds.
Martin (49-0, 145-2 career) was one of four Connecticut wrestlers to claim a New England championship and was booed after the victory. But he celebrated with a back flip and a hug for coach Frank Chaves.
In a year that Martin struggled to find competitive matches, he found it all in this six-minute battle. Neither wrestler backed down. Boyle wrestled despite having gauze wrapped around his nose and head to prevent his nose from bleeding.
The key for Martin was his ability to continue wrestling even when it seemed that Boyle had successfully taken him down.
“I knew (Boyle) would work the edge of the mat, try to get a single (leg takedown) and expect me to stop wrestling. But I didn’t stop,” said Martin.
Twice Boyle had deep shots in on Martin but he never relented or stopped wrestling and eventually wiggled his way out of trouble.
Trailing by a point in the second period, Martin hit his first takedown with 30 seconds left for a 2-1 lead but was penalized a point at the buzzer for a dangerous move. He kept working a move a second after the buzzer sounded.
In the third period, Boyle intentionally let Martin escape to give the Simsbury junior a 3-2 lead. The two stalked each other, unsuccessfully working attempted takedowns until Martin finally sank a takedown with 28.2 seconds left for a 5-2 lead. And the boos began after Martin pointed at the Lowell coach, who had been barking at the referee trying to get him to award a takedown for Boyle earlier in the period.
Boyle hit a desperation reversal with nine seconds left and immediately let Martin go but didn’t come close to a match-tying takedown.
He became the just the second Simsbury wrestler to win a New England championship. Pete Pereira (171) won in 1990. Martin beat another defending New England champion, Peter Nolin of Dracut, Mass., 14-2, in the semifinals. Nolin won at 112 a year ago.
“He is always tested,” Chaves said. “The competition at the New Englands is tremendous. But Joey has been aggressive and has wrestled his type of match. Joey scores first and keeps the pressure on.”
A week earlier, Martin became just the 10th wrestler in state history to claim three straight State Open championships. He had three pins and a major decision, including a pin of Ledyard’s Will Heuschneider in the final.
Martin led just 4-0 in the third period before catching Heuschneider and quickly pinning him. “He just kept running away,” a frustrated Martin said afterwards. “Most kids don’t want to wrestle me. They just keep running off the mat.”
Martin now has the rare opportunity next winter to become just the third wrestler in Connecticut history to win four State Open titles. But that is a long way off.
After winning the Open title, Martin was asked about what he relishes about wrestling. “Getting the outstanding wrestler award or wrestling really hard in a match and coming out on top,” he said. “Knowing that you had to work hard and give it your all.”
Martin brought home no outstanding wrestler trophies this winter but he was pushed to the edge by Boyle to claim a satisfying New England championship.
LARA STOPPED: Twice Avon sophomore Este Lara (112) ran into the single-minded Ken Fratus of Waterford. A year ago, a frustrated Fratus could only watch from the stands during the Class M and State Open wrestling tournaments. There were no post-season tournaments for Fratus, who was overweight for the Class M meet that he won a year earlier.
He made up for it this year. In the Class M semifinals, Fratus dismissed Lara by technical fall but Lara rallied to take third. At the State Open, Lara beat three state champions. He stunned Class LL champion Tyler Howe of Danbury in the semifinals, 9-8 but again he found Fratus blocking his path. In the Open final, Fratus again beat Lara by technical fall, 16-0 in 4:45.
“He was focused,” Avon coach John McLaughlin said of Lara’s Open performance. “He worked hard this week.” Lara also had a tight 5-3 decision over Class L champion Shawn McKenna of Pomperaug and a 5-0 win over Class S champion Matt Brett of Northwestern Regional.
Lara finished 26-5 with three losses to Fratus, who finished the year undefeated and as New England champion.
MAT DUST: Wrestlers learn very quickly at the State Open to take advantage of their opportunities or they go home. “You can’t let your guard down for a second. If you do, the good kids will capitalize,” Pomperaug-Southbury coach Mike O’Keefe said. Canton’s Heath Cotton (152) found that out quickly. He dropped a 1-0 decision to Bulkeley’s Ismael Nieves in the first round. In his first round consolation match, he had two opportunities to get back points but couldn’t convert in a 7-5 loss to Waterford’s Mike Gorton to end his tournament run. Nieves, who was 3-0 in one-point decisions in the tournament, eventually finished fourth. Cotton finished the year 27-5. … Long-time assistant coach Ed deSimas of Canton was named the assistant coach of the year by the NCCC in voting by the league coaches. He finished his 20th season with the Warriors this winter and has helped 11 wrestlers win Class S titles, two win State Open titles and one win a New England title. He has helped Canton finish in the top 10 in Class S 10 times in the last 15 years and has helped the Warriors win 224 matches over the last 20 years. In that span, Canton has posted 10 winning seasons and won four NCCC titles. … Suffield's Chris Potter was named as head coach of the year.