It’s been a long time since there was a match between the Avon High wrestling team and Canton with the league championship on the line.
If one assumes – always a dangerous game when dealing with high school athletes – that Canton beat the co-op team from Suffield/Windsor Locks/East Granby earlier this week, then Avon and Canton will compete for the lead in the NCCC championship on Wednesday night in Avon at 6:30 p.m.
The championship won’t be decided. Teams in the NCCC earn one point for every dual meet win and a half point for every team they beat the NCCC Tournament on February 14 in Avon. But the winner will have a huge leg up on taking home the pennant.
For the sake of our story, let’s go on the assumption that Canton beat Suffield on Wednesday night. It’s been a good season for the Warriors (10-7, 6-0 NCCC), who have won their first six league matches for just the third time in their history.
“We’ve definitely been improving,” Canton’s third-year coach Josh Kaplan said. “We’re doing some good things in the weight room. We still have a lot of young guys and they’ll make mistakes. But they’re working hard and doing what they need to do.”
Canton is led by seniors Skylar Lang (220), Devin Glasson (195), Dylan Houle (170) and Patrick Lawler (160). The Achilles heel for the Warriors has been forfeits. Depending on the health of the wrestlers, Canton has been forfeiting up to four weight classes per match, giving up at least 24 points.
But the Warriors have managed 10 wins so far and hope to beat Avon for the first time since 2002 – the last time that Canton won the league title.
“We’ve had that date circled on the calendar for a while now,” Avon coach John McLaughlin said.
Avon (12-6, 6-0 NCCC) hasn’t lost a league match since the 2007 season and has won 49 consecutive league meets. But this is a different team this winter. Two Class M champions and another Class M finalist either graduated or didn’t return.
“We’re very young,” McLaughlin said. “We have just three seniors and three juniors on the team. The rest are underclassmen.”
The Falcons have done well within the league but their youth has shown on Saturday afternoon matches in losses to Maloney, Hall, Bristol Eastern, Farmington and Windham. Eastern, Farmington and Windham have each been ranked in the state coaches top 10 poll at one point this season.
The recent 33-31 loss to Hall was a good experience for the Falcons. Most matches were close and there were few pins. “That was good for both teams,” McLaughlin said. “They’ll learn more in those six minutes on the mat than quickly pinning a kid. It’s not about wins and losses this year. It’s about getting experience for the near future.”
Avon is led by Gino Bonalumi (285), Anthony Tripodi (106), Puck Quijano (120) and Nick Brere (132).
Avon finished second at the John Williams Duals in Vernon last weekend, easily beating East Catholic, East Hartford and a collection of junior varsity wrestlers from the other five teams in the tournament. But Windham handled Avon in the final, 52-19.
Title on the line?
The CCC West championship could be on the line Wednesday when Simsbury (8-3, 3-0 CCC West) travels to Newington (6-1, 3-0 CCC West) to tangle with the Indians for a 6:30 p.m. start.
It should be a battle of two teams undefeated in the CCC West.
Simsbury faced New Britain earlier this week and Newington hosted Hall. Simsbury and Newington were favored to win those matches. Newington faces New Britain on Saturday in its Hastings Duals tournament.
Newington outlasted defending CCC West champion Farmington last week, winning by one point, 34-33 on criteria. There is a list of criteria used to break ties. High on the list is penalties and one Farmington wrestler was penalized for misconduct. That was the difference.
Simsbury will close out its CCC West campaign at Farmington (19-2, 3-1 CCC West) on Feb. 12.
Bears win two
Granby doesn’t have a big team this year but the Bears have picked up victories over East Windsor and Gilbert. They dropped a one-point decision to the co-op team of Suffield/Windsor Locks/East Granby, 39-38 in December.
Steve Muller (106) and Gavin Wilkney (142) each finished third for Granby at the recent Greater Hartford Open. At the John Lawless Invitational in Woodbury, Matt Bradley (145) and Justin Lengvarsky (220) each finished third while Steiffen Janser (170) and Muller (106) were each fourth in their respective weight classes.