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This page was last updated on: September 5, 2001

Seymour looks to make noise in only its 2nd varsity campaign
Connecticut Wrestling Online
Feb. 15, 2001 -- If the Berlin High wrestling team is to win its third straight state title, depth will be the reason.

The stiff competition within the Redcoats' room, something which so few state teams can muster, makes the Berlin representative in each weight division capable of scoring points in the all-important consolation round.

Berlin, which won titles in Class S and Class M as the school's population steadily has grown, will compete in Class L this season. The prime competition is likely to come from a skilled Simsbury squad which split two matches with the Redcoats this year. As Berlin coach Jim Day sees it, the Trojans' strength comes from their potential finalists.

"It will be Simsbury's finalists against Berlin's depth," Day said. "Getting six kids in the finals is a realistic goal for them and they have two others who should place. We're capable of having all 14 of our wrestlers score and nine or 10 placewinners (wrestlers placing first through sixth score team points)."

Three Redcoats are seeded first -- John Szymanski (30-1) in the 135-pound division, reigning State Open champion Mike Laroche (33-0) at 160 and heavyweight Aaron Trusty (34-0), another defending Open titlist who just keeps on rolling up the wins.

Sophomore C.J. McCormack (31-4) is the third seed at 112 pounds. Junior 152-pounder Bill Aust (28-6) is ranked third.

Other competitors who will need to verify the quality of Berlin's depth are Chris Santerre (10th seed at 103), Matt Ponte (16th at 119), Derek Aivano (24-9, 6th at 125), Matt McCormack (9th at 130), Justin Giarnella (10th at 140), Tom Marturano (11th at 145), Jim Punkunus (22-10, 5th at 171), John Riedel (28-9, 7th at 189) and John Russo (23-8, 6th at 215).

Newington has two top seeds in freshman Craig Ryan (26-2 at 103) and senior Tim Faucher (29-0 at 125), whom his coaches say is as close to having a coach on the mat as it can get.

"Stick 25 cents in the juke box and the song plays until it's done. Tim wrestles until he gets a pin or the 6 minutes are up," Newington coach Matt Rossi said. "He has the desire, the work ethic, the experience and knowledge far beyond most kids and some coaches. We don't have to say much when we're in his corner."

The Indians also have a second seed in Paul Bowman (28-1) at 140. Bryan Trigila, at 24-4, is the fourth seed at 135. Other Indians vying to place are Eric Soucy (9th seed at 119), Tom Discipio (15th at 152), Mark Kaminski (13th at 189) and Tim Owens (16th at 189).

Farmington will be represented by Karl Dinkler (8th at 112), Brent Herud (5th at 119), Chris Thomas (11th at 130), Mike Mulcunry (11th at 135) and Phil Szajda (16th at 189).

The Class L meet takes place at Bristol Eastern's newly refurbished gym.

CLASS LL: Southington coach Pete Sepko hopes his second-ranked team can wrestle its best and get a break or two to sneak past perennially dominant Danbury. Even then, finding the means for an upset will be difficult.

"Maybe if some of Danbury's can't make weight," Sepko joked. "We have to wrestle extremely well but Danbury is always up for this meet. We have to push more guys through in the consolations and that's what Danbury does very well."

The Blue Knights have three No. 1 seeds in once-beaten Doug O'Leary (27-1) at 130, Colin Sepko (26-2) at 171 and heavyweight Matt Vose (25-2).

Mat Florian has earned a second seed at 145 and freshman Chris Lee is third at 140 where Dennis Stone is one of five top seeds for Danbury. Jeff Fontaine is third at 103 and Larry Liseo is third at 160.

The rest of Southington's lineup is: Chris Albini (12th at 112), Ryan Lee (4th at 119), Mike Szymczak (4th at 125), Bill St. Pierre (6th at 135), Jim Battista (14th at 152), Jon Vose (6th at 215). Chris Brackett, competing at 189 in place of the injured Brian Vaccaro, will compete as a zero-point wrestler. Brackett, who did not engage in enough bouts to be seeded, gets placed into a lottery to determine a first-round foe.

New Britain is led by fifth-seeded Kyle Mitchell at 152 and sixth seed Ryan Pacyna at 130.

Also representing coach Ed Smith's Hurricanes are Adnan Zanta (13th at 112), Mark Roberts (15th at 119), Matt Dowling (15th at 135), Nick Delaney (11th at 145), Erik Bee (11th at 160), Konrad Przychodzen (12th at 171) and Ned Cass (13th at 189).

The Class LL meet will take place at Bristol Central.

CLASS S: With Plainville High hosting the Class S tournament for the first time, coach Sean Kelly is hoping for at least one state champion and a team finish among the top five.

Undefeated senior Paul Battista (35-0) is seeded first at 145. His primary competition  second seed Adam Russell of East Windsor and third seed Kyle Peatfield of Morgan  will probably battle it out for the right to meet him in the final.

"It's (Battista's) tournament to win," Kelly said. "It's up to him. He beat Peatfield but it was a one-point match."

Freshman Jesse Cavallaro (30-4) is a second seed at 103, a division that's topped by Rocky Hill senior Andy Nguyen (27-0) who was voted Most Outstanding Wrestler in the Charter Oak Conference meet on Saturday.

The Blue Devils have two No. 3 seeds in Bryan Pavlowitz (26-7 at 112) and 119-pounder Vito Barbagallo. Barbagallo, who had five wins a year ago, finished up at 28-4.

"He knows what it takes," Kelly said. "He gets mentally prepared and he works very hard."

Among Plainville's seeded wrestlers being counted on to wrack up points are: Jerry Mals (12th seed at 125), Justin Mals (16th at 130), Dave Chapman (12th at 171), Justin Fangiullo (15th at 189), John Snyder (11th at 215) and Phil Rothkugel (6th at 275). Wally Smykla is a zero-point candidate at 152.

Rothkugel (25-5) played basketball for three years before walking into the wrestling room at the start of the campaign which presents him as an interesting darkhorse.

"He's gotten tougher as the season went on," Kelly said. "He's just a good athlete. Two of his losses were to Trusty and the other three were early in the year."

For Rocky Hill, Loxley Walters (23-3) earned a third seed at 130 and Nguyen's younger brother Tony (22-7) is fifth at 119.

The other seeded Terriers are Dan Michalski (14th at 112), A.J. Maselli (16th at 125), Dan Maselli (12th at 140), Rob Labonte (7th at 145), Eric White (9th at 152) and Paul Buccheri (13th at 160).

CLASS M: Wethersfield travels to Windham High with senior Kyle Hayes, the fourth seed at 130, carrying the best hopes for a state title.

The other Eagles who have been seeded are Billy Savvis (10th at 135), Paul Todaro (12th at 140), Josh Mack (12th at 152), Dino Federici (9th at 160), Sean Murphy (8th at 171) and Mike Gherard (14th at 275).

The four meets are slated to begin today at 4:30 p.m. with preliminary-round action followed by the first round. The consolations begin 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. The quarterfinals should start at 9:30, the semifinals at 2 p.m. and the championship finals at approximately 7 p.m.

Berlin looks to claim third straight state title
Connecticut Wrestling Online
Feb. 16, 2001 -- It took nearly 13 years to get a wrestling program going at Seymour High.

The Wildcats are wasting little time in making some noise.

In only its second year, Seymour posted a winning record (15-6), finished second in its only tournament appearance (Pomperaug) and has six wrestlers seeded among the top 10 in their respective weight classes for this weekend's Class M wrestling championships at Windham High.

Seymour senior Bobby Blankinship (14-3) is seeded third at 125 pounds while junior Gary Vasas set a new school record with 21 wins at 152 pounds. Vasas (21-3) is also seeded third. Junior Jim Blankinship (11-1) is the fourth seed at 135.

Steve Saladino (18-4, 160), Jason Fraser (20-5, 171) and Frank Casini (21-5, 189) are each seeded sixth in their respective weight classes.

"I'm very happy with what we did this year," said coach Joe Perucci, a long-time assistant coach under John Lawless at Nonnewaug. "The big test is this week in the M tournament. Our goal is to break into the top 10. But there are a lot of good teams out there."

Killingly, Bethel and RHAM are the top 10 squads that will battle for the title. New Fairfield, Hand, host Windham High and Jonathan Law make this a very competitive tournament.

"Bring it on," said Perucci. "If you want to be the best, you have to wrestle the best. If you want it, go get it."

It took 13 years to get a wrestling team started at the school. A year ago, the Wildcats were 5-9 with its first win coming on Jan. 15, 2000 over Granby (54-30). At the Class M meet, they finished 18th with no medalwinners (top six).

This year, the Cats finished the season with 35 wrestlers on the squad.

"We've done well for a second year team," Perucci said. "We came on hard and strong this year. The kids like to work and practice."

The Class LL tournament will be at Bristol Central, the Class L meet will be at Bristol Eastern and the Class S meet will be in Plainville.

Wrestling begins Friday at 4:30 p.m. and resumes Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. Semifinals are scheduled for 1 p.m. at each site with the consolation finals at 6 p.m. and championship finals at 7 p.m.

The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the State Open on Feb. 23 and 24 in Glastonbury.

NO EXCUSES FOR HOUSATONIC: Junior Wayne Godfrey is the top wrestler for Housatonic, seeded 6th at 135 pounds in the Class S tournament with a 20-9 record. It hasn't been the easiest season to remain focused. Only four wrestlers made it through the season  Godfrey and fellow juniors Kristy Barney (112), Benson Mahoney (140) and Dan Hafford (145)

Five wrestlers were injured, two quit and two others flunked off the team. Needless to say, Housatonic went winless (0-12) for the first time since 1971, the second year of the program.

"I'm very proud of my team," second-year coach Ameen Storm Abo-Hamzy said. "I would rather have four wrestlers that want to be here than 25 who don't want to be.

"In the face of tremendous odds, they gave 110 percent and tried their hardest. They showed up for practice every day," Abo-Hamzy said. "They are dedicated, courageous and loyal. They're not willing to give up."

A TWO-TIME CHAMPION: Gilbert junior Devin Schibi (160) enters the Class S tournament as the No. 1 seed and with a 29-0 record. He has yet to give up a takedown this season. Schibi will be looking to become the first Gilbert wrestler to capture back-to-back state titles.

Pomperaug, led by Southwest Conference champion Tom Phillips (140), will attempt to finish the season on a high note in the Class L tournament at Bristol Eastern. Phillips will be seeded fifth in Class L.

Scott Miller (215) finished third and Mike Miller (275) took fourth for the Panthers at last weekend's SWC championships. Pomperaug was ninth out of 10 teams.

Wolcott Tech senior Jeff Dew (17-1) is the highest seeded Wildcat, ranked fifth in Class M at 189 pounds. The three-time BL champion will attempt to become the second OWTS wrestler to bring home a medal. Ed Hanley finished sixth at 275 pounds in 1999.

Tech teammate Steve Carpenter (215) is seeded 7th with a 12-6 mark while Justin Tucker (14-4, 135) is 9th and Matt Ellis (275) is ranked 10th.

Holy Cross will also compete in Class M with Christian Baumbach its top seed at 6th at 215 pounds.

TOP BL WRESTLERS: Other BL wrestlers seeded in the top 10 in the Class S tournament include Nonnewaug's Pat McKirdy (7th, 103), Jim Cirillo (9th, 119), Kevin Cook (7th, 125), Greg Suchin (7th, 152), Louis Barre (7th, 189), Joe Budris (7th, 215), Northwestern Regional's Mike Welcome (6th, 119), Gilbert's Steve Dombrowski (6th, 140), Steve Romano (8th, 145), Ryan Wheeler (4th, 171) and Thomaston's Alex Rice (8th, 152).

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