By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Connecticut Wrestling Online
WINSTED, Feb. 4, 2002 --- Much of the success of the Nonnewaug High wrestling team this season is rooted efforts from wrestlers up and down the lineup. The Chiefs (20-7, 5-0 BL) have clinched a tie for the Berkshire League title and on Saturday, they captured a record sixth straight BL Tournament crown.
"They've been silent and solid," Nonnewaug's second-year head coach Dave Green said. "We have seven or eight kids with 20 wins. No one wrestler really stands out over the others."
The Chiefs also have wrestlers willing to help, including behind the scenes.
Senior Nick Gravalec (135) has been frustrated this season by his unability to crack the varsity lineup. But he didn't quit the team. He kept coming to practice to help his teammates and Saturday, he got a chance to contribute in the BL Tournament.
He was one of four Nonnewaug junior varsity wrestlers to finish third in their respective weight classes. Junior varsity wrestlers filled in open spots in the eight-team brackets. Names were drawn out of a hat to see who could compete. JV wrestlers didn't score points but they could earn a medal and eliminate other varsity wrestlers.
It was one of the reasons that Nonnewaug won the tournament by a record 77 points over Terryville, 229-152. The most lopsided tournament win prior to Saturday was a 33.5-point win by Gilbert in 1993.
"It was nice to see the kids work hard and nice to see the results on the win mat, win or lose," Green said. "We're concerned with improving each match and hopefully, it helps us win matches."
NEW FACES IN THE CROWD: Torrington High sophomore Robert Kanehl (112) is 10-8 on the season and hopes to compete in the Class L tournament. But he has a torn tendon in his foot and will see this week if he can continue. Kanehl and sophomore Robert Doyon (135) have been working out with Tech this winter.
Wamogo's Corey Morenz took third at 160 pounds in the BL Tournament with an 11-9 win over Wolcott Tech's Steve Bessette. Morenz, a first-year wrestler, is a Thomaston resident and he trains with the THS squad. He usually wrestles at 152 but moved up to get a chance to compete.
Morenz is looking to become the first Wamogo wrestler to compete in the Class S tournament since 1976.
HOUSATONIC CONTINUES GROWTH: The resurgence of wrestling at Housatonic may not be reflected in the Mountaineers' dual meet record (4-9) but 11 freshmen are still with the team at this late point in the season.
"We have a foundation," said Mountaineer coach Ameen Storm Abo-Hamzy. "You can't help but be proud of them. Just having the courage to step out on the mat says something right there."
Three seniors captains -- Dan Hafford, Wayne Godfrey and Benton Mahoney have been the most successful this season. Hafford (15-6) won a BL title with a 15-8 win over Nonnewaug's Corey Patrick at 135 pounds.
Hafford began the season at 145 pounds but was able to easily drop the necessary weight, in part because he runs at least three miles each morning before school.
Godfrey (20-1) lost his first match of the season in the 140-pound final to Nonnewaug's Grayson Glover, 15-4, while Mahoney (13-5) fell in the 145-pound final to Gilbert's Steve Dombrowski by technical fall.
TECH RECORD WITHIN REACH: Wolcott Tech senior Steve Carpenter is one win shy of the school record for most wins in a single season.
Carpenter is 17-4 after his 37-second pin of Nonnewaug's Bill Sfinaralokis in the finals at 215 pounds. The record is currently held by Jeff Dew, who won 18 matches a year ago. Carpenter, who has 17 pins, will get his chance for the record at the Class M tournament on Feb. 15 and 16.
Wolcott Tech's dual meet season is complete at 5-11 and 1-5 in the league. Tech's second-year coach Craig Schroeder was pleased with the progress of his young team.
Four sophomores Josh Cox (112), Mike Hester (145), Steve Bessette (160) and Martin Hurd (171) each made the BL tournament semifinals. Freshman Corey Schlicher was fourth at 125.
Tech's Matt Ellis, the defending champion at 275 pounds, had a rough afternoon Saturday in the BL Tournament. Ellis lost in the semifinals to Northwestern Regional's Brendan Cutler, 5-4 in double OT. In the consolation final, Ellis dropped a 4-3 decision to Thomaston's Keith Souillard.
Schroeder said that Vinal Tech-Middletown is exploring the possibility of hosting a Technical School tournament next year. Wolcott Tech, Cheney Tech-Manchester, Wright Tech-Stamford, Platt Tech-Meriden and Windham Tech each have wrestling teams.
AROUND THE MAT: Nonnewaug (20-7) set a new single-season mark for most wins in a season with its 42-33 victory over Holy Cross last Wednesday. The previous high-water mark for the Chiefs was 19 wins in 1999 when Nonnewaug was 19-1. The Chiefs still have two matches remaining on Wednesday against Thomaston and they close out the regular season Saturday against Morgan-Clinton. ... Nonnewaug's
Kevin Cook (130) earned the 100th BL championship in school history with his victory over Terryville's Cole Boudreau, 11-2. The Chiefs have won more BL titles (102) than any school since the tournament began in 1983. Gilbert wrestlers have won 66 titles while Terryville grapplers have won 47.