By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Connecticut Wrestling Online
MANCHESTER, Jan. 23, 2001 -- Winning isn't something new to the RHAM-Hebron wrestling team. The Sachems are the two-time Charter Oak Conference champions and should add a third straight title this winter. They finished fourth in Class M a year ago.
Winning isn't the only thing that the Sachems are collecting. They are gathering a healthy respect around the state as well. RHAM has been ranked in the top 10 coaches poll all season and is currently ranked 5th, down from fourth a week ago.
"They don't quit," said RHAM coach Kevin Kanaitis, now in his fourth year as head coach and 60-16 overall. "Our philosophy is to work until the third period whistle goes off. It you give it all on the mat, you'll get your points and you'll get your wins.
RHAM is 15-1 this season with impressive victories at the Skip Arden Tournament in Manchester along with victories over top 10 teams Berlin (36-30), Windham (38-30), Killingly (36-28) and Derby (33-30). The only loss came in a rematch to Berlin, 31-30 on Dec. 29.
RHAM was only 30 points behind second-place Berlin in Saturday's Eagle Classic Tournament. Vermont powerhouse Mt. Anthony easily won the tournament for the fifth straight time with 278 points with Berlin collecting 182½ points and RHAM with 152½.
"We work the kids hard," Kanaitis said. "And the hard work pays off. We do a lot of running and a lot of wrestling."
The Sachems wrestled well at the Eagle Classic without three starters. Alan Forcash (119) missed the tournament with dislocated finger while captain Brendan Haggerty (145) and Greg Stevens (189) each sat out with sprained ankles.
"By states, we'll be healthy," Kanaitis said.
Freshman Greg Dussol, an All-American in middle school, made the finals at 135 pounds with a tight 5-4 victory over Berlin's John Szymanski in the semifinals. It was an impressive win despite the fact that Szymanski has been struggling with the flu.
Junior Louis Grano (140) also made the finals but lost to Mt. Anthony's Ben Lackey to slip to 13-3 on the year.
Sophomore Ian Coyne had one of the most impressive performances of the tournament. A junior varsity wrestler, he stepped in for Haggerty. In the semifinals, he stunned Mt. Anthony's Brett Miller, 9-2. Coyne lost in the finals to New Fairfield's Dan McAveney by pin (3:19).
At 152, sophomore Kevin Davis (19-0) remained undefeated with his 5-2 win over East Windsor's Ron Pelley in the finals.
At 160, Taro Moroga lost a tight 3-2 decision to Berlin's Mike Laroche, giving up an escape with 57 seconds left in the third period. Moroga earned his spot in the final by beating Mt. Anthony's Ron Wright by pin (3:02). Wright finished second in New England last year at 152.
The Charter Oak Conference tournament is Feb. 10.
SCHEINBERG SHINES FOR EAST: It's been an outstanding season for East Catholic's Chris Scheinberg (125 pounds) and it is only halfway over. Scheinberg has won three tournaments the Skip Arden Invitational in Manchester, Bristol Central Invitational and Eagle Classic. He was named the tournament's outstanding wrestler at Skip Arden and in Bristol. He won the Eagle Classic with a thrilling 6-3 victory over Mount Anthony's Kyle Willard, the top seed.
"You just have to convince yourself that you will win," said Scheinberg, 18-0 on the season and 122-21 for his career.
"It's a mental preparation. When you have two guys with equal skill or maybe one person who is better, it's all about attitude."
East Catholic coach Eric Gremmo said Scheinberg and teammate Lincoln LeFebvre (119) have been showing post-season form already.
"They are probably the two most focused individuals I've seen this year," he said. "Mentally, they ready. I haven't seen better preparation. They have the look in their eyes."
LeFebvre made a mistake in his championship match with Mount Anthony's Paul Monick and it cost him five points (reversal, near fall). He lost, 7-1.
"Both have goals of wrestling outside of Connecticut (in the New England's)," Gremmo said. "Winning (the Eagle Classic) will make a significant mark for them."
MAT DUST -- Tolland's Matt Gineo, who trains with Rockville, earned a spot in the 95-pound final at the Eagle Classic but he was pinned in 1:39 by Mount Anthony's Eric Mayer. Most of the state schedule was postponed Saturday thanks to early snow and slippery roads on Saturday morning along with a threatening forecast of snow and ice.
ROAD TRIPS -- Mount Anthony High in Bennington, Vt. is a regional public high school but they go anywhere to test their wrestlers. Mt. Anthony competed in the Midwest City Classic in Ohio against teams from Illinois, Alabama, Pennsylvania and South Carolina and competed in Florida at the Florida Central Duals, a 12-team dual meet tournament with squads from New York, New Jersey, Florida and Ohio.
Mt. Anthony (18-1) finished second in Florida, suffering its first loss of the year. Not bad for a team that replaced 10 of its 14 starters from a year ago.
"We feel very fortunate that (organizer) Eric Gremmo invites us back (to the Eagle Classic) each year," said Mt. Anthony coach Scott Legacy, now in his 16th season. "It's a tournament with tough competition."
Mt. Anthony has won 12 straight Vermont state championships.
UPCOMING -- A big test for No. 7 Berlin this weekend will be a quad match with No. 2 Southington, No. 4 Simsbury and New Fairfield in Berlin on Saturday. ... No. 5 RHAM, Morgan, Staples and No. 11 Windham High will compete in Saturday's Rockville Duals. ... Conference tournament Saturday is Feb. 10 with the NCCC, COC, NWC, ECC and CCC East holding conference tournaments. It is the first year for the CCC East. The Berkshire League holds its annual championship meet on Feb. 3.