By Jim Bransfield
MIDDLETOWN >> Middletown High’s wrestling team has four senior, top-of-the-line wrestlers in Jamar Jones, Nate Roy, Cody Carrillo and Jacob Grasis. The Big Four almost always win and they all won Thursday night against Bristol Central.
But sometimes, as coach Mark Fong said, it just isn’t enough.
It wasn’t enough against Central as the Rams won the final three matches of the night at 106, 113 and 120 pounds to come from behind and beat MHS, 36-27, at Keigwin Middle School.
“We needed things to break for us,” said Fong. “We needed to win at 152, and I thought we should have. But Evan [Grzeszczyk] made a mistake early, fell behind and it was hard for him to come back. We needed Jordan Yop at 195, but it was asking too much. It was his first match in six weeks after being injured.
“There were a lot of 50-50 matches and we won our share, but just not enough.”
Central coach Matt Boissonneault agreed that 152 was critical. But he pointed to another.
“Our win at 132 was huge,” he said. “My kid [Tyler Burrow] is the defending state champion, but he lost to Middletown’s Jordan Baker earlier this year. To get that win [it was 3-2] was important. We were fortunate to win the coin toss which enabled us to dictate the matchups. We knew it would be a tough match.”
Middletown won three of the first four matches by decision to build a 9-3 lead, including an 11-6 win by Roy at 145 pounds. After Brandon Poirier won that key match at 152 pounds for Central, Middletown’s Jacob Grasis pinned Julian Galindez with just 21 seconds left in the third period. That gave MHS a 15-6 lead, which the Dragons later expanded to 21-9 when Carrillo pinned Tom Nelligan with 1 minute, 35 seconds left in the second.
But Central got a pin from Jake Hall over Yop at 195 and a forfeit – strategic move by Fong – at 220. The strategy looked like it might pay off when Jones pinned Krys Nizielski at 285 pounds to take a 27-21 lead.
But MHS lost the final three matches at 106, 113 and 120 – the last two by pins — as the Rams came all the way back to improve to 12-5.
“That wasn’t unexpected,” said Fong. “We have 10 sophomores and freshmen in our starting lineup. Noah Sylvester is out with an injury, and I figured he would win and likely pin in one of those final matches, but injuries come with the territory.
“It was pretty even coming in. They’ve beaten teams we’ve beaten and vice versa. It came down to match-ups. We have a few holes and they found them.”
Middletown, now 13-8, will wrestle in the Bacon Academy Tournament in Colchester on Saturday.