2008 CIAC Class L championships
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BRISTOL, Feb. 16, 2008  – For the defending Class L champion Middletown High wrestling team, the margin for error was smaller than a year ago. The team wasn’t as experienced or as deep. “We worked twice as hard in practice,” senior captain Ryan Thiel said earlier this year.

The Dragons played five wrestlers in the finals and seven in the top four of their respective weight classes to outlast Northwest Conference rival Berlin by 13½ points, 177½ to 164 to capture their second straight Class L championship. New Milford, which held an early lead, faded just a bit to third place with 160 points with Hand-Madison fourth with 159 points.

“We’ve had a lot of obstacles this season but these kids have been resilient,” Middletown coach Mark Fong told the Middletown Press.

Richard Perry (215) won a championship with an overtime takedown of Lucas Bowman of East Lyme, 8-6 while teammates Victor Ekpenyong (103), Ron Brown (152), Ryan Thiel (171) and Ray Belanger (285) each finished second. Belanger dropped a 1-0 decision to Bristol Central’s Tim Chambers, who escaped with 51 seconds gone in the second period.

While the performance of the five Middletown wrestlers in the finals was key, the performance of the rest of the team was crucial to defending their championship. Ryan Sylvester (189) dropped a 4-3 decision in the semifinals but kept wrestling to earn a spot in the consolation final, where he dropped another heart-breaking one-point decision to finish fourth.

John Brown (125) dropped a 13-8 decision to Berlin’s Ryan Bisson in the quarterfinals but kept wrestling, going 4-0 in the consolation bracket with a pin to finish third with a crucial 19-7 victory over Bisson.

Even if they didn’t win medals, wins and pins were important to Middletown, which was in 11th place at one point in the tournament. Alexander Drew (119) had two pins and a pair of victories in the consolation bracket while Andrew Obenauer (130) had two wins in the consolation bracket. Theil and Belanger each had three pins on their way to the championship matches.

Berlin had seven medal winners led by undefeated Jon Fiorillo (160), who is 47-0 and on track to break the single season record for wins at Berlin set a year ago by Shane Day (50-2). Fiorillo won his second straight Class L title with a 9-1 victory over Guilford junior Kyle Lunberg.

Kevin Moss (135) took second while Chris Solek (130) and Ethan Berube (145) were third. Ryan Bisson (125) and Cameron Banks (171) were each fourth while Justin Ronciaoli (140) took sixth.

It was Fiorillo’s win that moved Berlin past New Milford and Hand into second place.

New Milford had a pair of champions. Cody Griswold (171) outdueled Ryan Thiel, 11-4 to win a championship for the Green Wave while Michael Bellagamba (160) was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler after a 15-0 tech fall of Middletown’s Ronnie Brown in the final. Other medalists for New Milford included Anthony Amorando (112) who finished fourth, Tim Bradle (145) in fifth place and Luke Andrade (130) who grabbed a sixth place finish.

Hand had seven medalists, led by Derek Fish (145) and Brian Onofrio (135) who brought home championships for the Tigers. John Jongbloed (125) was second while Kyle Martin (140) and Dylan Lindahl (215) were each third.

* * * *
Pomperaug junior Rob Caleca (125) isn’t fazed by tough competition. He has seen it all year.
Caleca, the No. 8 seed in the Class L tournament, won three straight two-point decisions to win a state championship. Caleca outlasted Hand’s John Jongbloed, 3-1 to become the 10th champion in school history and the second in his family.

Caleca’s older brother Mike was Pomperaug’s most recent state champion after his victory at 152 pounds in 2005.

“We’ve been preparing for this all year,” Pomperaug coach Mike O’Keefe said. “We try to wrestle the stiffest competition we could find. He has been in close matches all season and it paid off this weekend.”

Rob Caleca, 24-9 in the regular season, beat Wethersfield’s Diego Perez, the No. 1 seed at 152 in the quarterfinals by a 2-0 score. In the semifinals, Caleca beat No. 5 Edwin Mesanovic of New Milford for the second straight week, 3-1. Last week, Caleca beat Mesanovic, 2-0 in the SWC Tournament semifinals.

Team effort lifts Middletown to 2nd straight title
2008 Class L
At Bristol Central
Team scores: 1. Middletown 177½, 2. Berlin 164, 3. New Milford 160½, 4.Hand-Madison 159; 5. Farmington 121½, 6. Fairfield Ludlowe 120; 7.Pomperaug-Southbury 108½; 8. Hall-West Hartford 106; 9. Bristol Central 106; 10. (tie) Platt-Meriden and Conard-West Hartford 103; 12.Woodstock Academy 98; 13. Maloney-Meriden 87; 14. East Lyme 72½; 15.Bunnell-Stratford 68; 16. Guilford, 62½; 17. New Canaan 54; 18.Windsor 41; 19. Wethersfield 40; 20. Masuk-Monroe 39; 21. E.O.Smith-Storrs 35; 22. Wilton 31; 23. Branford 30; 24. Fitch-Groton 26½; 25.Fermi-Enfield 22; 26. McMahon 18; 27. Notre Dame-West Haven 6; 28.Torrington, 0.
Complete brackets
Class L at Bristol Central

Individual results
103:  Final - R.J. LaBeef, Woodstock Academy dec. Victor Ekpenyong, Middletown, 6-2; Third place - Kevin Workman, Bunnell dec. Garrett Gitterman, Maloney, 6-3; 5. Rusty Schomberg, Hand, pinned Thomas Porzillo, Pomperaug, 2:43. 
112: Final - West Johnson, Platt dec. Noah Smutnick, Woodstock Academy, 4-2; Third place - James Porzillo, Pomperaug dec. Anthony Amorando, New Milford, 5-0; 5. Eric Orrell, Farmington, dec. Marshall Simpson, Conard, 5-3.
119: Final - Luke Walsh, Farmington tech. fall Ian McAllister, Hall, 15-0; Third place - Roberto Solano, Conard dec. Andrew Latimer, Wilton, 12-2; 5. Nick Cyr, Bristol Central, injury def. Jason Wojnarski, Fairfield Ludlowe.
125:  Final - Robert Caleca, Pomperaug dec. John Jongbloed, Hand, 3-1; Third place -  John Brown, Middletown dec. Ryan Bisson, Berlin, 19-7; 5. Edin Mesanovic, New Milford pinned Justin Beers, Fitch, 1:35.
130: Final - Aaron Cardona, Maloney, dec. Evan Baily, Farmington, 2-0; Third place -  Chris Solek, Berlin dec. Alex Libby, Bristol Central, 7-3; 5. Reese Denu, Pomperaug dec. Luke Andrade, New Milford, 5-2.
135: Final - Brian Onofrio, Hand, dec. Kevin Moss, Berlin, 16-6; Third place - Drew Darley, Bristol Central dec. Alexis Hidalgo, Hall, 4-3; 5. Malcolm Yancey, Farmington pinned Dane Denu, Pomperaug, 2:15.
140: Final - Ryan Clarke, East Lyme, inj. default Ubayda Aatek, Conard; Third place - Kyle Martin, Hand dec. Colin Donovan, Fairfield Ludlowe, 3-1; 5. Jamison Blackwell, Bunnell dec. Justin Ronciaoli, Berlin, 3-1.
145: Final - Derek Fish, Hand dec. Emmett Donovan, Fairfield Ludlowe, 9-1; Third place - Ethan Berube, Berlin dec. Justin Scalise, Hall, 16-9; 5. Tim Bradle, New Milford dec. Fred Milfort, Bunnell, 3-0.
152: Final - Michael Bellagamba, New Milford tech. fall Ronnie Brown, Middletown, 15-0; Third place - Johann Roebelen, Windsor dec. Jose Navedo, Conard, 8-6; 5. Brendan Andrew, Hand dec. Oleg Mironchenko, Woodstock Academy, 5-4.
160: Final - Jon Fiorillo, Berlin dec. Kyle Lundberg, Guilford, 9-1; Third place - Jacob Verzello, Pomperaug dec. Zach Wetzel, Woodstock Academy, 5-4; 5. Michael Carberry, Fairfield Ludlowe dec. Jimmy Santana, Conard, 9-2.
171: Final - Cody Griswold, New Milford dec. Ryan Thiel, Middletown, 11-4; Third place - Ben Brody, Farmington dec. Cameron Banks, Berlin, 9-0; 5. Matt Rahman, Platt inj. def. Michael Sheehan, Fairfield Ludlowe.
189: Final - Michael Milano, New Canaan dec. Nick Murillo, Platt, 8-3; Third place - Henri Fatigate, Fairfield Ludlowe dec. Ryan Sylvester, Middletown, 4-3; 5. Sean O'Connell, Farmington dec. Greg Woodward, Hall, 3-2.
215: Final - Richard Perry, Middletown dec. Lucas Bowman, 8-6 (OT); Third place - Cody Hoskins, Masuk, pinned Dylan Lindahl, Hand, 2:15; 5. Patrick Osborn, Fairfield Ludlowe dec. Chris Rivera, Fermi, 4-3.
285: Final - Tim Chambers, Bristol Central dec. Ray Belanger,  Middletown, 1-0; Third place - Adam Foxx, Maloney dec. Larry Burns, Conard, 8-0;  5. Jonathan Ramsey, Windsor dec. Conor Hart, Hand, 6-4.

Most outstanding wrestler: Michael Bellagamba, New Milford