Carlos DeWinter has registered more than 30 victories for the Greenwich wrestling team this season, the last three of which resulted in him capturing what he’s been chasing since his freshman year — an FCIAC title. Winning all three of his matches at Saturday’s FCIAC Championships at New Canaan High School, DeWinter claimed the 120-pound title, adding an ultra-impressive achievement to his already successful season.
“I finished fourth at the FCIAC Championships as a freshman and was second as a sophomore, so this year, it felt good to get that win,” said DeWinter, a junior, who is one of the Cardinals’ captains. “I’ve been able to make that constant upward trend each year, which have included slight adjustments to get a little better each year.”
Facing an unfamiliar foe in the championship match of the 120-pound bracket at the FCIAC tournament, DeWinter trailed Danbury senior Kevin Pina, 8-3, in the third period, before executing a pinfall to win the matchup.
“This was the first time in my three years of high school wrestling that we wrestled each other,” DeWinter said of his title match against Pina. “He was a bit of an unknown quantity, but I watched his semifinals match and from what I saw, he looked to be the kind of wrestler to get me in trouble. He is very long, almost having a full head of height on me, but I thought I wrestled a pretty good match against him.”
Facing five-point deficit in the final period, DeWinter got the pinfall, shortly after they reset in the center of the mat.
“I got to an over-under tie, one of my strongest positions,” DeWinter said. “I knew my conditioning was up at that point of the match and I was able to toss him on his back and secure the win.”
— Dave Stewart (@DStewartSports) February 15, 2020
DeWinter won the 120-pound title match against Pina by pinfall in 4:50, before his teammates, coaches, family and a lot of his peers.
“Whenever you beat a Danbury kid in general it’s special, because it is a dynasty there with their team having national champions,” DeWinter said. “So many of their wrestlers get to that stage at the FCIAC tournament, which amplifies the feeling even more. I have a lot of friends through different teams in the FCIAC, so I had a lot of people and teams rooting for me.”
A tough test also occurred for DeWinter in the semifinal round of the FCIAC Championships. He edged third-seeded Terry Brannigan of Staples by a 12-10 decision. Unlike the championship match, the semifinal matchup came against an opponent he was familiar with.
“That semifinals match on Saturday was the seventh time I wrestled Terry in my high school career,” DeWinter said. “Whenever I wrestle Terry, there is a lot of emotion in that match. I am 4-3 against him, so it’s always a hard-fought match against him.”
Behind 6-0 early on, then leading 10-7 heading into the third period, DeWinter was pretty confident late in match.
“That’s where I am the strongest, in the third period,” he said. “As long as I did everything correctly, I was confident I could finish off the match.”
Brannigan tied the semifinal match up at 10-10 with an escape and a take down, but DeWinter executed a reversal for two points and the victory.
Following a first-round bye, the second-seeded DeWinter won by technical fall against Westhill junior John Leydon, 19-4, in 4:26 in the 120-pound quarterfinals. Wrestling has been DeWinter’s sport of choice since he took up the sport as a fifth-grader with the Stamford Warriors program, based out of Westhill High School.
“I tried basketball, baseball, soccer and lacrosse as a child, but as soon as I got into the wrestling room I knew it was what I wanted to do,” he said. “Wrestling is by weight class, so it’s a sport that gives me the opportunity to test myself against people my size.”
Like many wrestlers, the challenge of the one-on-one aspect appeals to DeWinter.
“It’s a tough physical sport,” DeWinter said. “I’m not a fan of when sometimes people complain about other people making mistakes during a game, or something. I enjoy the fact that it’s one-on-one and you get to see the aspect you need to fix. I record all my matches, so I can see what I need to do to improve.”
Greenwich wrestling coach Jere Petersen describes DeWinter as the “best conditioned wrestler on the team,” a description many of his foes would most likely, agree with.
DeWinter attributes his standout conditioning to the 28 days he spent at the Jay Robinson Intensive Wrestling Camp in Wisconsin this past summer. It is regarded as the premier wrestling camp in the country.
“I have always been a strong kid for my weight class, but did not always have the muscular endurance,” he said. “For someone, who was supposed to be pretty good, my freshman year I got pinned a lot. The Jay Robinson Intensive Wrestling Camp I attended included a lot of running and was based on the whole idea of you have no idea how hard you can push yourself. We spent six hours a day working out — running, lifting and wrestling. When you are training at that level of intensity, there’s no way you can not be in shape.”
Up next for DeWinter is the Class LL Championship on Saturday at Trumbull High School. He may be seeded as high as third in the state tournament. Hall junior Drew Currier should be the No. 1 seed in 120-pound bracket.
“I’ve matured a lot as a wrestler since my freshman year when I was 0-2 at the state tournament,” DeWinter said. “This year, I feel I am more of a physically and mentally mature wrestler. This year would be a good year to do some damage at the tournament.”