By KEN LIPSHEZ
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.