2007 CIAC State Open
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103, 112, 119, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 152, 160, 171, 189, 215, 285

2006 State Open
At New Haven
Team scores: 1. Danbury 140, 2. Griswold 82, 3. Ledyard 71, 4. New Milford 68, 5. Middletown 49, 6. Stamford 48, 7. Platt 40½, 8. Ridgefield 39½, 9. Trumbull 39, 10. Berlin 38½, 11. NFA 34, 12. New Britain 33½, 13. Weaver 32, 14. Stratford, Montville and Amity 31, 17. South Windsor 29½, 18. Hand 29, 19. Avon 28, 20. Greenwich 27½, 21. RHAM and Norwalk 27; 23. Bacon Academy 26, 24. Newington 25½, 25. Windham High 25, 26. Fitch and Masuk 24, 28. Woodstock Academy 23, 29. Wethersfield and East Lyme 22; 31. Somers and Guilford 21; 33. Derby 20, 34. Simsbury 19, 35. Southington and East Windsor 18; 37. Westhill and Fermi 17; 39. Newtown and Morgan 16; 41. Jonathan Law and Hall 14; 43. New Canaan, Bristol Eastern and Branford 13; 46. Bristol Central 12; 47. New Fairfield 11; 38. Manchester, Conard and Fairfield Warde 10; 51. Brien McMahon 9; 52. Killingly 7; 53. Cheney Tech and Bethel 6; 55. Foran 5½; 56. Rockville, Maloney, Cheshire and Bunnell 5; 60. Housatonic, Glastonbury, Farmington and Brookfield 4; 64. Suffield, Portland, Joel Barlow and Immaculate 3; 68. St. Bernard, Seymour and Rocky Hill 2; 71. Windham Tech, Thomaston, Staples and East Catholic 1; 75. Weston, Waterford, Terryville, Stafford, Plainville, Nonnewaug, Holy Cross, Hartford Public, Hartford Classical, Gilbert and Canton 0
Individual results
103: Championship: Ken Velez (Wethersfield) dec. West Johnson (Platt), 6-4, OT; 3 Noah Smutnick (Woodstock Academy) pin John Lemoine (Trumbull), 1:23; 5. Alex Blank (Ridgefield) dec. Troy Zacharty (Somers), 4-2
112: Championship: Mike Cunningham (South Windsor) dec. Mike Battinelli (Stamford), 8-1; 3. Casey Lesile (Middletown) dec. Anthony Ricco (Stratford), 2-1; 5. Anthony Amorando (New Milford) dec. Andrew Wilheim (Law), 5-0
119: Championship: Este Lara (Avon) dec. Charlie Costanzo (Danbury), 11-2; 3. John Gouveia (Newtown) dec. C.J. Satti (Ledyard), 11-2; 5. Curtis Watkins (Fairfield Warde) dec. Beau Richard (NFA), 6-3
125: Championship: Tyler Banks (Griswold) dec. Spiros Stefanatos (New Milford), 14-4; 3. George Madkour (Danbury) default over Andrew Blain (Windham); 5. Chris Malenfant (Bristol Central) dec. Ryan Clarke (East Lyme), 6-0
130: Championship: Corey Paulish (Ridgefield) dec. Nelson Gonzalez (Platt), 11-7; 3. Brock Coutu (Griswold) pin Alex Helbring (Branford), 2:21; 5. Chris Krisatis (Manchester) dec. Tucker Schaefer (Danbury), 8-4
135: Championship: Shane Day (Berlin) dec. Patrick Ryan (Montville), 7-5; 3. Sam Wilcox (Griswold) dec. John Smith (Danbury), 7-6; 5. Michael Vernik (Amity) dec. Derek Marsette (Law), 10-7
140: Championship: T.J. Hepburn (Ledyard) pin Derek Fish (Hand), 3:15; 3.  Jordan Jacquo (New Britain) dec. Steve Flathers (Stratford), 7-5; 5. Nicholas Tenan (Bristol Eastern) default over Trevor Ritchie (Southington)
145: Championship: Eric Campbell (RHAM) dec. Stefon Camacho (Stamford), 9-1; 3. Dean Smith (Danbury) dec. Mike Bellagamba (New Milford), 11-0; 5. Ryan Thiel (Middletown) pin Shane Yahulke (New Fairfield), 2:14
152: Championship: Adrian Gonzalez (Fitch) dec. Tyler Howe (Danbury), 8-3; 3. Joe Lambert (Fermi) dec. Sean Fisher (Griswold), 4-3; 5. Jake Clarke (Greenwich) pin Michael Baker (Ledyard), 2:00
160: Championship: Ryan Roddy (Amity) dec. Cody Griswold (New Milford), 4-2, OT; 3. Tim Vollaro (Somers) dec. Ronald Thompson (Westhill), 3-1; 5. Jon Fiorillo (Berlin) dec. Abraham Casarez (Middletown), 9-2
171: Championship: Anthony Kaponis (Newington) dec. Richie Zschoche (Danbury), 6-5; 3. Brandon Sundwall (Guilford) pin Fred Parlos (East Windsor), 3:54; 5. Jon Manwaring (East Lyme) dec. James Chertkov (Greenwich), 6-4
189: Championship: Nicholas Murphy (NFA) dec. Joe Laduca (Danbury), 3-0; 3. Julian Hightower (Ledyard) dec. Joseph Colella (New Britain), 7-5; 5. Mike Milano (New Canaan) default over Jerry Thompson (Bacon Academy)
215: Championship: Platon Koukides (Norwalk) dec. Leonard Stanley (Weaver), 5-0; 3. Marcus Furze (Simsbury) dec. Kyle Kiaunis (Morgan), 7-2; 5. Jesse Ludgin (Hall) pin Elijah Williams (Cheney Tech), 4:08
275: Championship: Paul Fenaroli (Masuk) dec. Richard Moran (Trumbull), 2-1, 2 OT; 3. Matt Chalmers (Bacon Academy) dec. Tom Izzo (Derby), 4-3; 5. Rashannon Stanley (Weaver) dec. Edwin Agosto (Brien McMahon), 1:33

Fast fall: T.J. Hepburn (Ledyard) 3 pins in 5:44
Outstanding wrestler:  T.J. Hepburn (Ledyard)
Full State Open brackets from CIAC
Full State Open brackets from CIAC
Media coverage
Some story links may have moved to archives.

Danbury News Times, Feb. 25: No individual champions for Danbury but team title remains with Hatters

New London Day, Feb. 25: Banks helps Griswold clinch second place

Norwich Bulletin, Feb. 25: Griswold slips past Ledyard for second place

The Herald Press (New Britain edition), Feb. 25: Velez, Kaponis and Day bring home State Open titles

Hartford Courant, Feb. 25: A great Day in Berlin as father watches son win an Open title

The Herald Press (Bristol edition), Feb. 25: Tenan and Malenfant take fifth at Open

Connecticut Post, Feb. 25: Masuk's Fenaroli wins Open title in OT

Waterbury Republican American, Feb. 25: Tough road for area wrestlers at Open

Meriden Record Journal, Feb. 25: Two Platt wrestlers fall in hard-fought finals

Stamford Advocate, Feb. 25: Koukides brings home an Open title

New London Day, Feb. 23: Semifinals feature some of the best bouts

Danbury News Times, Feb. 23: Can anyone make a run at Danbury?

Norwich Bulletin, Feb. 23: Does Ledyard have enough to challenge Danbury?

Connecticut Post, Feb. 23: Trumbull's LeMoine seeks Open title

New Britain Herald, Feb. 19: Rise of Farmington, Wethersfield programs is legitimate

New York Times, Feb. 17: Girls hit the mat including Montville's Jessica Bennett
n VIDEO on Bennett in action
Lucky 7 for Danbury,
Hepburn wins 3rd straight Open title

Connecticut Wrestling Online
NEW HAVEN, Feb. 24 – The pieces of paper swirled around in the hat. To fill an open spot in 135 pound weight class at the State Open wrestling tournament, a name was selected – freshman John Smith of Danbury, who had finished fifth at the Class LL tournament.

His first opponent was Class LL champion Michael Vernik of Amity. Smith pinned him in a minute. Following a 15-3 decision over Class S champion Sam Wilcox of Griswold, Smith found himself in the semifinals.

Smith eventually finished fourth, beating Vernik a second time in the consolation semifinals. But his extraordinary effort on the first day of the tournament was typical of Danbury, which basically won its seventh straight State Open championship with a stellar performance on Friday night.

Despite four finalists, Danbury didn’t crown a single champion. But seven medalists helped Danbury score 140 points and easily win the tournament. Class S champion Griswold was second with 82 points while Class L champion Ledyard third with 71 points. The 140 points was the third highest in tournament history.

“I have a young team and it showed in the finals,” Danbury coach Ricky Shook said. He said that the team wrestled well Saturday but not as well as they did on Friday when the tournament was in doubt. “Some guys need that team title (pressure) to wrestle well. We wrestled every single match like it was our last,” he said with a shrug.

Freshman Charlie Costanzo (119), senior Tyler Howe (152), senior Richie Zschoche (171) and junior Joe Laduca (189) each finished second while junior George Madkour (125) and Dean Smith (145) took third.

They will carry Danbury’s hopes for a New England championship next week. “It will be difficult,” Shook said. “We don’t have that guaranteed finalist but we have some shots.”

Griswold finished second, sparked by Tyler Banks (125) with the first State Open championship in school history with a solid 14-4 victory over Class LL champion Spiros Stefanatos of New Milford.

Brock Coutu (130) and Sam Wilcox (135) each finished third while Sean Fisher (152) was fourth.
“It's the State Open ... there's no myth to it,” Griswold coach Dana Cooke told the New London Day. “It's the one that we all come to and say, 'Who's going to take second place?' Everyone knows Danbury's going to win. Everyone wants second place in the State Open and we're finally there.”

Ledyard’s T.J. Hepburn (145) became the 12th person in state history to win three straight State Open titles with a dominant performance. He was on the verge of beating Hand’s Derek Fish by technical fall when he flattened Fish and won by pin in 3:15.

“It’s just instinct,” Hepburn said modestly. “My body tells me when its time go. He improved to 45-0 on the year and 190-3 for his career.
He had two pins in the tournament, including a 45-second pin of Bristol Eastern’s Nicholas Tenan in the semifinals. Hepburn, the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler, also took home the fast fall award with three pins in 5:44.

It was the just the fifth time in 43 years that there were no teams with multiple champions.  There were four rematches of the Class LL finals in the Open finals.

103 pounds
Wethersfield’s Ken Velez (42-4) beat Platt High’s West Johnson with an overtime takedown to win, 6-4. Johnson made the initial shot on Velez but the Wethersfield High senior was able to lean and spin over him to get the takedown and the championship.

It was sweet revenge for Velez, who lost twice this year to Johnson by technical fall in the finals of the Farmington Valley and Spartan Invitational. Johnson was third in the freestyle national tournament in Fargo, North Dakota this summer.

“He wrestled great and is peaking at the right time,” Wethersfield coach Ken Staten said. “He really reached down within himself to complete (the moves he needed).” Velez is only the second Wethersfield wrestler ever to win a State Open title. John Kennedy (155) won a championship in 1972. The last Eagle wrestler to compete in the finals was in 1996.

112 pounds
In a rematch of the Class LL final, South Windsor’s Mike Cunningham beat Stamford’s Mike Battinelli for the second week in a row, 8-1. Last week, Cunningham (41-1) won 12-0. Cunningham gave up just two points in the entire tournament.

“He was mentally prepared, stayed focused and did what he was capable of,” South Windsor coach Jude Knapp said.

Battinelli (41-5) tried to use his speed but to little avail. "It's all about adjustments,'' Stamford coach Tim Donnelly told the Stamford Advocate. "(Cunningham) is going to figure you out. (Battinelli) worked more on his speed and quickness, but the guy is just a big, strong kid.''

Middletown’s Casey Lesile used a takedown with 22 seconds left in the third period to beat Stratford’s Anthony Ricco and finish third.

119 pounds
Avon’s Este Lara used the memory of losses in the State Open finals in 2005 and 2006 to fuel his work ethic throughout the year. He dropped a three-point decision to Ridgefield’s Corey Paulish at 119 a year ago and lost by technical fall to Waterford’s Ken Fratus (112) in 2005.

“I thought about it during the entire offseason,” Lara said. “Every time I wanted to give up in practice, I thought of those losses.”

His persistence and drive culminated with a dominating 11-2 victory over freshman Charlie Costanzo of Danbury. Lara went 4-0 in the tournament with two pins and two decisions. He had total control of Costanzo in the championship bout at 119 pounds. Lara had three takedowns in the first period and led 11-2 after two periods.

“He was really driven,” McLaughlin said. “It really drove him all spring, fall and winter. For one year, he really worked his tail off.” Lara improves to 40-1 on the year and 158-17 in his career. He became the eighth wrestler in school history to win a State Open title and first since Adam Tolk in 2003.

125 pounds
Griswold’s Tyler Banks won the first Open title in school history with a 14-4 win over New Milford’s Spiros Stefanatos. Banks (48-0) was the only non-senior to win an Open title.

130 pounds
Ridgefield’s Corey Paulish (130) won his second straight Open championship by outlasting pesky Nelson Gonzalez of Platt, 11-7. The match was tied 4-4 late in the second period when Gonzalez tilted Paulish but it wasn’t enough to earn any near fall points. Gonzalez raised his arms in frustration after the period was over and boos peppered the mat official.

Gonzalez started on top in the third period and tried the same move again. But this time, Paulish (45-1) was ready and got a reversal, which led to three near fall points and a commanding 9-4 lead.

“I knew points would be crucial,” Paulish said. “He has good hips and is a good scrambler. It was difficult to get into the groove at first.

135 pounds
Berlin’s Shane Day (47-0) entered the season with the state record for most career takedowns and he used his expertise with takedowns to grab his first Open title. He had three takedowns to take control in a 7-5 victory over Ryan in the championship bout. He had five takedowns in a 11-7 win over Law’s Derek Marsette in the semifinals.

“That is where I feel most comfortable, on my feet,” Day said. “It is where I can control a match.”

Day’s father, long-time Berlin High wrestling coach Jim Day, beamed after his only son won the championship. “As a coach, each time one of your wrestlers win, it is exhilarating because you know how hard they worked,” Jim Day said. “As a father, you know how much they sacrifice so the feeling is heightened.”

Before winning last week’s Class M title, Shane Day had never won a CIAC tournament. Now, he was won two in two weeks. He won the Class L title a week ago. “This title is his (Jim Day), my mother’s and my whole team’s,” Shane Day said. “They all helped me win it.”

Shane Day is the 12th State Open champion for Berlin, all coached by his father, and the first since 2000.

140 pounds
Ledyard’s T.J. Hepburn had two pins and won his third straight State Open championship by pinning Hand’s Derek Fish in 3:15.

Fish advanced to the finals with a 4-3 victory over Southington’s Trevor Ritchie, who suffered a broken nose in the second period the bout when the two collided going for a takedown. Fish took a 2-1 lead with a takedown with 48 seconds left in the second period but Ritchie tied it with an escape.

In the third period, Fish got a takedown with 53 seconds left. Ritchie cut the lead to one with an escape with 28 seconds left but couldn’t manage to get another takedown. After the match, Ritchie withdrew from the tournament. Ritchie finished sixth and once he got to the hospital, it was discovered he suffered a mild concussion.

145 pounds
RHAM’s Eric Campbell lost a triple OT bout in the Class M finals to Windham’s Jon Torres, 4-3, but Campbell’s coaches tried to keep him focused on the Open. “They were telling me that this is bigger than the M’s,” Campbell said. “This is the one that matters most. Three takedowns capped off a 9-1 victory over Stamford’s Stefon Camacho in the Open finals.

But it wasn’t easy. Campbell had a third period escape with 35 seconds left and a takedown with 20 seconds remaining to beat Class LL champion Dean Smith of Danbury in the semifinals, 7-4. He beat Rocky Hill's T.J. Magnoli, 7-4 in the quarterfinals and Bristol Eastern’s Todd Krolikowski, 5-3 in the first round. Campbell, a three-time Northwest Conference champion, improves to 39-3.

152 pounds
Fitch’s Adrian Gonzalez put the caps on an undefeated season with a solid 8-3 win over Danbury’s Tyler Howe, the Class LL champion. Gonzalez improved to 51-0. He is Fitch’s first Open champion since 2003.

160 pounds
Amity’s Ryan Roddy prevailed in a spirited match that caught the attention of the crowd. Roddy, the Class LL champion, beat New Milford’s Cody Griswold, 4-2 in overtime. It was a rematch of last week’s Class LL final where Roddy won, 13-3.

Griswold led 1-0 after two periods and began the third period on top but Roddy took the lead with a reversal with 1:36 to go. But Griswold tied it up 36 seconds later with an escape of his own.
In overtime, Griswold made the initial shot and it was deep. But Roddy was able to pressure Griswold and eventually spin behind for the victory.

171 pounds
A week ago, Newington’s Anthony Kaponis easily dispatched Danbury’s Richie Zschoche by technical fall to win the Class LL championship. But in the rematch in the State Open finals, it was Kaponis who trailed Zschoche by two with 50 seconds left.

Kaponis escaped with 25 seconds to go to cut the lead to one. With 13 seconds left, a takedown attempt by Zschoche was ruled out of bounds. Time was running out.

With drive and determination, Kaponis drove into Zschoche with a deep double leg takedown, picked Zschoche a few inches off the mat, tossed him down and scrambled behind with two seconds to go for a two-point takedown to capture his first State Open championship, 6-5.

Kaponis (36-1) led 1-0 after two periods and 3-2 with about 1:40 left in the match. But Zschoche escaped and got a takedown with 50 seconds left to take a 5-3 lead.

“He has the ability to kick it into that extra gear,” Newington coach Matt Rossi said of his senior. “He likes a challenge.” And as Rossi thought about those last 13 seconds and with Zschoche holding a 5-4 lead, he said, “That isn’t skill. That isn’t muscle. It is all about heart. Anthony Kaponis is all heart.”

Kaponis lost in the Open finals a year ago to Bran Crudden by pin in 3:25. Kaponis became just the second Newington wrestler to win an Open championship and the first since Tim Faucher in 2001. “I just had to wrestle,” Kaponis said. “In the end, it was about heart.”

In the semifinals, a takedown by Kaponis with 47 seconds left helped him beat East Windsor’s Fred Parlos, 6-4.

189 pounds
In a rematch of the Class LL finals, NFA’s Nicholas Murphy beat Danbury’s Joe Laduca for the second straight week, 3-0. A week ago, Murphy prevailed, 7-1.

Murphy had a tough semifinal bout, nipping ECC rival Julian Hightower of Ledyard with a reversal as time expired in overtime, 3-2. In regulation, both Hightower and Murphy had one-point escapes. The first one-minute OT period was scoreless.

Hightower took a 2-1 lead in the third OT with an escape with 13 seconds remaining. In the second half of the third OT, Murphy began down but struggled for most of the 30-second period. But as the final seconds ticked off, Hightower relaxed too much and Murphy surged to complete a two-point reversal at the buzzer and earn the 3-2 victory.

215 pounds
Norwalk’s Platon Koukides won his second straight Open title with a solid 5-0 win over Weaver’s previously undefeated Leonard Stanley, now 21-1. Koukides (136-20 career) outscored his final two opponents by an 18-1 margin. He beat Morgan’s Kyle Kiaunis in the semifinals, 13-1.

275 pounds
Masuk’s Paul Fenaroli finished third in the Class M championships but took advantage of opportunities to win his first State Open title. He beat Class LL champion Richard Moran of Trumbull, 2-1 in double OT. Fenaroli (40-2, 113-29 careeer) beat Bacon Academy’s Matt Chalmers in the semifinals, 5-2 and Class S champion Tom Izzo of Derby in the quarterfinals, 7-2.

Additional notes -- New Britain, with just three wrestlers in the field, finished 12th overall. Senior Jordan Jacquo (140, 44-3) won four straight bouts in the consolation round, including a 7-5 victory over Stratford’s Steve Flathers to finish third. On his birthday, senior Joseph Colella (189) finished fourth after dropping a tough 7-5 decision to Ledyard’s Julian Hightower. Colella (44-3) advanced to the semifinals but his third period rally fell short in a 8-5 loss to Danbury’s Joe Laduca. … Bristol Central’s Chris Lombardi (119) won an Open title at 112 as a junior. His quest for a second title and his career ended on Friday when he was thrown out for a flagarant elbow in the waning seconds of a 7-6 loss to Ledyard’s C.J. Satti. … Windham’s Jon Torres (145) lost out on a chance to qualify for the New England tournament when he was overweight on Saturday morning and was eliminated. ... Griswold's second place finish is the highest ever for a Class S team, beating its fifth place finish a year ago.