Last February, the Simsbury High gymnasium was pulsing with excitement. An estimated 500 fans filled the gym to see a pair of undefeated wrestling teams – Farmington and Simsbury – square off in the final regular season meet of the season with the CCC West championship on the line.
It was a tremendous high school match. There were no pins. Two of the 14 matches went into triple overtime. In the end, Farmington (32-0) prevailed, 24-23, by winning the final three bouts. The final match of the evening was decided in triple OT.
The high school wrestling seasons begins Wednesday around the state. Simsbury (22-1, 5-1 CCC West) looks to challenge for the league title and perhaps a state championship. Avon looks to be challenged for its NCCC championship, Canton has a senior-dominated team while Granby looks to grow.
They finished 22-1, went on to take fourth in the Class LL championship meet and was ranked No. 5 in the final state coaches poll.
Simsbury lost seven seniors from its starting lineup but coach Ernie Goodwin feels that the Trojans will still be a contender for the CCC West championship. He hopes that his team can be among the top two in Class LL and be among the top 10 in the state.
“Last year, we had a senior-oriented team,” Goodwin said. “This year, they seem like a veteran team. They know to get their work done. They did a lot of work in the off season to prepare.”
Senior Brad Helmkamp (220) finished second in Class LL a year ago while junior Jacob Feldman (195) finished third. Both won 28 matches during the regular season and won matches at the State Open.
Junior Vincent Palermo (108/113), James DeMaio (182) and sophomores Keith Penney (120) and Keith Fernandes (132) also return to the starting lineup.
There are several seniors who have waited their time and are ready to contribute at the varsity level including Lee Doyle (145), Tucker Salls (170), Mike Ryan (160) and J.P. Anderson (152).
It won’t be easy for Simsbury. They have to contend with Farmington, Southington and Newington in the CCC West. Farmington and Southington are both top 10 programs.
Goodwin has constructed a scheduled to challenge his Trojans. They have a dual meet with defending Class LL and State Open champion Danbury on the road on January 17, they’ll travel to Ledyard to face the Colonels and defending New England champion Timberlane, N.H., and they’ll compete in the Fairfield Warde tournament in early January.
“I hope we can be a top 10 team,” Goodwin said. “I think our lineup is good enough but you never know what the other teams will bring to the mat.”
The Falcons (16-11, 7-0 NCCC) have won the last six NCCC championships and eight of the last nine titles. But this could be the year that a new team grabs the league championship.
Avon will probably have just three seniors in their starting lineup – Nick Zacchio (220), Nick Briere (132/138) and Puck Quijano (113/120). Senior Jimmy Murphy, who won a Class M state championship a year ago at 145 pounds and was second at the State Open, won’t be wrestling this winter as he prepares to play football in college.
“We’re still a good team but we’ll be challenged,” Avon coach John McLaughlin said.
Suffield has formed a new co-op team with Windsor Locks and East Granby. The Wildcats were a solid team but with the co-op, they’ve added junior Khamri Thomas, who won the Class S and State Open titles at 160 a year ago, and East Granby junior Stephen Sobota, who won 17 matches at 120. McLaughlin also sees potential challenges from Canton and Granby.
Other top wrestlers for the Falcons look to be juniors Johnny Oh (126/132), Kirk Olestead (195), Kaely Quijano (106), Kiely Quijano (106) and sophomores Anthony Tripodi (106), Jack St. Onge (132/138) and Jamie McNeil.
The Warrios (12-13, 4-3 NCCC) have five seniors and two medal winners returning from last year’s Class S tournament back in the lineup. Senior Skylar Lang (220/285) was 29-4 and finished second in Class S a year ago. Senior Dylan Houle (160/170) was 22-13 and sixth in Class S.
Seniors Patrick Lawler (152/160), Joe Joslin (132/138), Devin Glasson (182/195) and Glen Korner (195/220) also return. Glasson went 22-13 a year ago.
Juniors Dan Delos (170/182) returns along with junior Noah Korner (145/152) and sophomores Trey VandeBogart (106), Mike Schomburg (113/120) and Julian Adams (126/132).
The challenge for Canton is to fill all 14 weight classes or minimize forfeits to give the Warriors the best chance to win. Coach Josh Kaplan returns for his third season.
First-year coach Nick Watson has a small, young team on the mat. The Bears (0-17, 0-7 NCCC) have two seniors– Ben Mattingly and Anthony LaTorre — and two juniors — Steffen Janser and Ivan Semyanko – on the team. Sophomores Andreas Paolino, Owen White, Gavin Wilkey, Owen Kirby and Justin Lengvarsky are each returning.
A few key regular season matches:
Wednesday, Dec. 18: Simsbury at Manchester; Canton at East Windsor; Avon at Enfield; Suffield/Windsor Locks/East Granby at Granby
Friday, Dec. 27: Enfield at Canton, 10 a.m.
Saturday, Dec. 28: Frank Chaves Invitational at Simsbury, 10 a.m.
Saturday, Jan. 4: Avon at Bristol Central Invitational
Wednesday, Jan. 8: Southington at Simsbury
Saturday, Jan. 11: Simsbury, Timberlane, N.H., Branford, Jonathan Law, South Kingston RI at Ledyard Duals
Friday, Jan. 17: Farmington, Terryville, Bristol Eastern at Avon, 5 p.m.; Simsbury at Danbury, 5 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 22: Avon at Suffield/Windsor Locks/East Granby
Wednesday, Jan. 29: Suffield/Windsor Locks/East Granby at Canton
Wednesday, Feb. 5: Canton at Avon
Wednesday, Feb. 12: Simsbury at Farmington
Saturday, Feb. 15: NCCC Tournament at Avon
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