Greenwich began the new year the way it ended 2018 — with victories against FCIAC wrestling foes.
The beat goes on for the Cardinals, who beat Staples and Stamford this week to raise their record to a perfect 5-0 for first-year coach Jere Petersen.
“I am a little surprised we are 5-0,” Petersen said. “Our guys have worked hard for it though. They wrestle the full six minutes and because of that, we were able to steal a win against Staples and win the matches we should win. This is a nice group of kids, who have a really great attitude.”
The Cardinals overcame a formidable obstacle in the form of Staples on Wednesday in Westport. Getting a pin from senior Andrew Nanai in the 182-pound match — the final matchup of the day — Greenwich came back to edge Staples, 38-36. Greenwich trailed 36-32 heading into Nanai’s match.
“The Staples match was a nail-biter,” Petersen said. “Both teams won a lot of matches and it came down to the very last match of the night. Andrew Nanai, the defending FCIAC champion, nailed that match down and got us the win. It was a very exciting match, Staples had a very big crowd.”
Only four of the 14 matches between the Cardinals and Wreckers went the distance and Greenwich received four-point wins in four of those matchups. Senior Mitchell Grimes (132-pound class), Emanuel Lai (junior, 138), senior Christian Stanback and junior Delvin Gustamar (152) each won their matches by major decision for the Cards against Staples.
Senior Jackson Blanchard (195-pound), sophomore Carlos DeWinter (113), sophomore Justin Mejia (126) and Glen Rivas (285) each won their respective matches against Staples by pinfall.
Against host Stamford on Thursday night, the Cardinals cruised to a 60-18 victory. In one of the most competitive matches of the evening, GHS sophomore Vincent Ceci (170) edged Ibrahim Abdul-Hakeem, 9-7.
“That was a huge win for Vinny,” Petersen said. “He is their senior captain and the match came down to the final 30 seconds. Vinny was able to get a late escape and was able to hold him off. Seeing Vinny coming back in the third period to win that match was very impressive.”
In the 138-pound match, Lai took an 8-3 decision from Stamford’s Ryan Gover.
“Those are two really good wrestlers and it was a big win for him (Lai) since he lost to Gover earlier in the season,” Petersen said. “Emanuel kept at it, getting an escape and takedown in the second period, then adding near fall points in the third period.”
Sophomore Kacper Grabowski (145) earned his first career win for the Cards, pinning Stamford’s Justin Gomez in 2:54. DeWinter continued his standout season at 113, pinning Brenden Leung of Stamford in 3:59.
Gustamar, who wrestled for Stamford last season, enjoyed a happy homecoming, winning his 152-pound match against Bryce Kijek by pinfall in 2:59. Blanchard (195), Mejia (126), sophomore Kyle Jampole (220) and sophomore William Grimes (120) each pinned their respective opponents.
There were some matches that could have gone either way, but when they made mistakes we capitalized on them,” Petersen said. “When we made mistakes, we were able to work our way out of most of them and bridge off our backs.”
Greenwich puts its perfect record on the line Wednesday against Trumbull — one of the toughest squads in the FCIAC.
“Trumbull has a really good team, it is going to be a challenging match,” Petersen said. “I’m really excited about how things are falling our way right now. We have a good group of returners in Nanai, Mitchell Grimes, DeWinter and Blanchard, so it’s good to have a core group to depend on day in and day out.”