By KEN LIPSHEZ
Connecticut Wrestling Online
MANCHESTER, Feb. 10, 2001 -- To say the Northwest Conference wrestling tournament has been Berlin's domain is like calling World War II a quarrel.
While there was no loss of life, there were plenty of prisoners taken.
The Redcoats won the league title for the 14th time in 16 years and placed champions in 11 of the 15 weight divisions Saturday, easily outdistancing their four competitors at the East Catholic High gym.
Berlin rang up 272 points compared to 156 for runner-up Plainville. Middletown was third at 137 1/2, the host Eagles took fourth with 96 and youthful Farmington scored 46½ .
The Redcoats placed 18 wrestlers in the finals. Four weight classes pitted Berlin varsity wrestlers against Berlin junior varsity wrestlers. The Redcoats claimed the top three spots at 152 and 189. They took first, second and fourth at 140. The only reason the team scores didn't further reflect their domination was because junior varsity wrestlers are not allowed to rack up points unless they defeat the varsity competitor from their own team.
Beginning with 1985, Berlin has won the NWC every year except for 1992 and 1997 when Plainville broke through.
In spite of the relative ease with which the Redcoats conquered, winning never gets tired for Berlin coach Jim Day, who has been at the helm for each of the team's NWC championships.
"Every time a kid wins an NWC title, he or she earns the right to put the name on the wall in our wrestling room," said Day, who has now guided 138 wrestlers to NWC crowns. "That's very special so it never gets old. Just look at their faces.
"As a coach, it's like 15 mini-tournaments. That's where I get my fulfillment."
Mike Laroche and Aaron Trusty remained unbeaten on the season with victories at 160 and 275 respectively. Laroche cherished his title although next week's Class L tourney and the State Open on Feb. 23 and 24 bring much more notoriety.
"You have to take it by steps. Maybe it's not too important as far as the win but it's my fourth conference title and that's important to me," Laroche said. "It's one of my goals."
Laroche stopped Middletown's long and lean Damian Mierny in the final by decision, 11-4.
"I beat him by about the same as I did in our dual meet," Laroche said. "I wanted to do better but its hard to beat a quality wrestler by more the second time around. I thought I did a good job by not letting him get closer."
Trusty pinned Plainville's first-year senior Phil Rothkugel in 4:37. The other Berlin champions were: Henry Wasik (95 pounds), C.J. McCormack (112), Matt McCormack (130), John Szymanski (135), Justin Giarnella (140), Bill Aust (152), Jim Punkunus (171), John Riedel (189) and John Russo (215).
Plainville, which placed eight wrestlers in the finals, emerged with two champions - Jesse Cavallaro at 103 and unbeaten senior Paul Battista at 145. East Catholic's Chris
Scheinberg, the champion at 125, was voted the Most Outstanding Wrestler. He also was named Best Technician in the tourney for the second straight year.
Andy Reindl of Berlin was awarded the hardware for Best junior varsity wrestler while the Redcoats' Pat Chambrello took home the Fastest Fall trophy for recording four pins in 7:02.
Cavallaro, a techincally sound freshman, defeated Berlin's Chris Santerre in his final bout.
"He's impressive on his feet so we wanted to keep his match in the neutral
position," Plainville coach Sean Kelly said.
Battista's win -- a workmanlike technical fall over Berlin's Tom Marturano -- was the 100th of his career.
Kelly was satisfied with the Blue Devils' performance although he was hoping to go better than 2-for-8 in finals matches. He noted that beating Middletown out for second was a pleasing development.
"Middletown beat us at the Bristol Central Invitational so we knew it wasn't going to be easy," he said. "The key was getting eight guys to the finals because they scored all our points. We don't have the depth to gain a lot of points (in the consolation round)."
Karl Dinkler, who finished third at 112, was Farmington's top finisher. For Middletown, Adam Warzecha (135) joined Mierny in the runner-up circle.