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This page was last updated on: October 7, 2008
Copyright 2008, Collinsville Publishing Company
By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Connecticut Wrestling Online
WEST HARTFORD, Feb. 6 – You can’t escape the tradition of the Conard High wrestling program, especially in West Hartford. The Chiefs have won 19 league championships, six state championships and up until last year, they had won more matches that any program in state history.
No one needs to remind cross-town rival Hall High.
But tonight, the Warriors and their fans are smiling broadly after Hall won four of the last five matches to beat Conard for the first time since 1987 and capture its first CCC West championship in 21 years with a 32-26 victory.
Four years ago, Hall coach Julio Duarte took over a program that was in tatters with just 11 wrestlers. Today, they are 21-1 and CCC West champions.
“I’ve never been prouder of a group of young men in my whole life,” Durate said. “We have gone and done what everyone told me we couldn’t do. Everyone said this team will never win, this team cannot win a conference championship. Hall cannot do it. I told these guys were going to prove the world wrong.”
The scene was electric in the Conard gym with several hundred fans roaring with every successful move from their wrestlers. The gym throbbed with noise from start to finish in every bout.
Conard (18-8, 3-1 CCC West) took a 20-15 lead with five matches to go after Jose Navedo (152) beat Hall’s Will Stauffer, 15-5 and teammate Jim Santana (160) beat Hall’s Shant Ghokasiyan, 9-5.
But Hall’s Geoff Derosiers (171) broke open a close decision with 10 points in the second period to win by tech fall over Jim Perez and tie the match at 20-20.
At 189, Conard’s Kevin Kapushinski hit a reversal with 1:35 left in the match to tie the bout at 4-4. But Hall’s Greg Woodward escaped with 1:19 left and picked up a penalty point for Kapushinski stalling to earn a 6-4 victory and give Hall a 23-20 lead.
At 215 pounds, Hall’s Andrew Gionfriddo was cautious wrestling against Conard’s Rashad Williams, especially since he has already lost to him twice. Gionfriffo led 2-1 in the third period with a pair of escapes but when he was called for stalling, the match went into overtime.
In OT, Williams tried for a headlock but Gionfriddo slipped out of it and behind Williams for the takedown and the win, igniting a wild celebration among the Hall faithful as the Warriors took a 26-20 lead. In the final two bouts, Conard and Hall each had a pin.
“I can’t fault anyone’s effort,” Conard coach Chris Glowacki said. “We gave it everything we had. We knew they were a tough team.”
Conard led 10-0 after three bouts, including a 5-3 overtime win by Paul Guittierez at 125 pounds with a takedown in OT. Hall rallied to three of the next four matches to take a 17-15 lead.