By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Connecticut Wrestling Online
CANTON, Dec. 27 -- The week before Christmas was a trying one for the Montville High wrestling team. Life is never easy when the school catches fire and you spend days contacting your wrestlers and scrambling to find a spot to simply practice.
Indian coach Gary Wilcox saw that the focus that had helped Montville win its first match and capture its own Indian Invitational for only the second time in 15 times was missing.
"It was an extremely difficult week," Wilcox said Saturday at a quad-meet in Canton. "We got only a few practices in and our weights were all over the place. The focus was gone. But the kids are pulling through. They are surviving."
A fire in the Montville High auditorium on Dec. 16 cancelled classes and rendered its gymnasium unusuable for the remainder of the winter campaign. The wrestling room wasn't hurt but the school was closed for several days. The Indians will be on the road for the rest of the season.
Wilcox's list of wrestlers was also in the school and he scrambled to contact them all early in the week. The team finally secured some space on Wednesday at the town middle school to practice on the youth program's mats and got on a scale to check their weights for the first time on Thursday.
Ranked 10th in the state, Montville gained steam with a 48-24 win over Farmington, a 54-26 win over Gilbert-Winsted and capped off the afternoon with a tight 42-34 victory over Canton, a victory decided in the final bout of the match.
"We wrestled very well," Wilcox said. "Although it hurt us not be wrestling this week and in our own practice room." He doesn't expect to be back in the high school wrestling room until Jan. 2.
Despite the three wins, Montville slipped out of the coaches top 10, settling in 11th place.
Ryan Kennedy (171), Tom Kruszewski (189), Nick Wilson (103) and Dan Dodge (135) each won three matches with Kennedy and Wilson each getting three pins. Dan Murphy (152) had a spirited match against defending Class S champion Devin Schibi of Gilbert before committing a mistake and getting pinned.
Against Canton, Montville took a quick 15-0 lead in the match that began at 160 pounds but the Warriors had two quick pins at 215 and 275 to cut the lead to three, 15-12. Two pins and a decision gave Montville a 30-12 lead before Canton came back by winning four of the next five matches to cut the lead to 36-34 with one match to go. But Murphy pinned Courtney Hill to clinch the victory for Montville (4-0).
PATRIOTS STOP DANBURY: Mt. Anthony, Vermont (11-0) showed little mercy in winning 11 of 14 matches in a 52-15 win over host Danbury (4-1) last Friday. Six Danbury wrestlers were pinned. "I was happy with the way our young guys wrestled today. We had to make some changes to the lineup, but I thought we held our own. We don't have any excuses," Danbury coach Ricky Shook told the Danbury News-Times.
The Hatters, who remained No. 1 in the state coaches poll for the 24th straight week, were missing three starters. Junior Trevor Howe (135 pounds) and senior Carlos Valenzuela (140) were suspended for "disciplinary reasons." Senior Jamie Ascone (125) is suffering with mononucleosis.
CONARD IMPRESSES: The Chieftains placed 10 wrestlers in the finals and won five individual titles to take the East Hartford Invitational for the first time in 19 years earlier this month. Conard had 212 points to beat Greenwich (187) and Bristol Eastern (138).
Long-time assistant coach Chris Glowacki took over for former coach Rob Cersosimo, who stepped down at the end of season last winter.
"The kids wrestled well. It was the first time in 19 years that we've won the title. It was a huge accomplishment for these guys," Glowacki told the West Hartford News. "Coach C. left me with an incredible group of kids. "
Glowacki said the key to this team's success has been off-season work.
"It started at the end of last season," he said. "They have worked real hard and made the commitment to be a real good team. They worked hard over the summer and prepared for the season."
AROUND THE MAT: Fairfield High leaped to No. 3 in the state coaches poll following its 39-26 win over host NFA last weekend. The No. 4 Wildcats were without two starters. Pat Newkirk (119) was out with a knee injury and hopes to be back this week while heavyweight Dan Hatman was out of town. Fairfield was 7th a week ago. ... Southington won the Fermi Duals with a convincing 57-12 win over Simsbury. The most points that No. 2 Southington gave up in the tournament was 19 points in a 51-19 win over host Fermi. ... LaSalle, N.Y. outlasted host East Lyme, 46-30 capture the East Lyme Duals. Nonnewaug finished third with a 2-2 record in the five-team event. ... Wolcott Tech-Torrington spoiled the dual meet debut of Northwestern Regional with a 48-30 Berkshire League victory. ...Vinal Tech-Middletown lost its varsity debut in a 48-33 loss to Charter Oak Conference rival Lyman Memorial.