FAIRFIELD — They have been and continue to be the gold standard for FCIAC and Connecticut wrestling.
Their tradition and champuionships are well known across New England wrestling as well.
The Danbury wrestling program welcomes all comers, accepts all challenges and treats every match as a special opportunity to excel.
The Hatters traveled to battle No. 3 Fairfield Warde Tuesday night. The Mustangs have proven to be the second most successful FCIAC wrestling team this 2019-20 campaign.
They were ready to take on the No. 1 Hatters.
While the spirit was willing, the work on the giant mat was not. Danbury defeated Warde, 49-14 before a charged capacity crowd at Warde’s wrestling complex.
“Warde is a good team. This was our last big test before the FCIAC Championships (Feb. 14-15),” Danbury coach Ricky Shook. “We’ve still got some work to do. But right now I feel our group is almost there.”
Warde, which had beaten a heralded Trumbull squad last week, never had a chance to settle into Tuesday’s match, which began with the 113-pound class.
Danbury used pins by Kevin Pina (120), Tyler Johnson (126) and Ryan Jack (145) to build an insurmountable 28-0 cushion. DJ Donovan (220) and Jordan Agosto (285) added a pair of late pins for the Hatters.
“We all a big family in this program. It’s about love,” said Danbury senior captain Ryan Jack, who has followed two older brothers into Hatters wrestling. “Our group this year is so close. We connect with each other. We always coach each other to keep improving. We are bonded together no matter what happens.”
Other victors for Danbury Tuesday included Lucas Coleman (major decision at 113), Matt Lucas (decision at 132), Jaylen Hawkins (decision at 170), Tyrell Jones (decision at 182) and Sean Donovan (decision at 195).
“It’s a lot of work by a lot of people top to bottom to keep a program like ours sharp,” Shook said. “It is a family. But a family with no egos. That’s how we do it. I also keep the kids humble all the time. That’s why we go to the tournaments we do.”
This season the Hatters have tested their mettle at the Beast of the East Tournament at the University of Delaware, the SWAT Classic, the Eastern States Classic as well as its annual get-together with the equally-formidable Mt. Anthony (Vermont) wrestling program.
For Warde, the Mustang victors included Will Ebert (pin at 152 with 1:06 left in third period), Cole Shaughnessy (tech fall at 160) and sophomore Connor Breheny (decision at 106).
“Coming into any match you are looking to win the 50-50 matches along with the matches you feel you are the favorite in. I thought entering the night we’d win six or seven weight classes. We only won three,” Warde coach Jason Shaughnessy said. “We had some good wins.”
But an opponent is in need of perfection when facing Danbury.
“Danbury has a good coach and a great youth wrestling program. It’s a feeder system that has produced good kids for decades,” Shaughnessy said. “We need to draw a line in the sand. We have to get tougher to get to our goals. We will get two more meetings with them (FCIAC, Class LL Championships). We must focus on what we need to do to get better. It’s about reaching our goals. Do our job. We didn’t do our job tonight.”