If performing well down the stretch of a grueling regular season has an impact on postseason performance, then a championship banner might be hanging in the Simsbury High gym by the time February ends.
The Trojans finished the regular season with a flurry, as recent wins over Southington and Bristol Eastern fueled hopes of earning a first state championship since 1997. Simsbury finished the regular season 15-1, with its lone loss coming to Springfield Central (Mass.).
The state has noticed, too: Simsbury vaulted into the No. 2 spot in the latest CTWrestling.com Top 10 Poll, the final voting before the tournament season begins. Both wins against then-top-five squads came down to the final match and ended in dramatic pins for Simsbury.
“Last week was a good week,” Trojans coach T.J. Silva said. “We’re getting to the end of a training cycle and hopefully peaking at the right time. I don’t think we’ve peaked yet; we’ve had some big wins over the past two weeks but our goal is to be ready for (states)”
Silva has been at the helm for four years after coaching in New Fairfield for most of the previous decade. It’s been a steady build, as the roster that was 17 when he began is now 40.
“It’s been fun and hard at times,” Silva said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to have a number of guys the past two (years) to have experience before coming in as freshmen. We now have 12 to 15 freshmen each year and it’s been great.”
— Simsbury Wrestling (@SimsburyWrest) February 1, 2019
Sophomore Ty Finn is set for another big postseason after earning the decisive pin against the Lancers in the finals of the New Fairfield duals last week. Finn won Class LL last season at 106 and has been performing at 120 this year. Finn represents the type of athlete the Trojans hope to consistently develop, Silva said.
“Ty Finn is what you look for as a student-athlete,” Silva said. “He does all the right things, he wrestles 10-11 months out of the year and is always looking to get better. He’s pleasure to coach; we have a good relationship.”
Finn is a next-level, Division I talent who is already closing in on 100 wins, a mark that will be surpassed early next season.
“It’s his attention to detail and willingness to always get better,” Silva said. “He hit three national tournaments last year outside of the season; he has a true love for the sport and has aspirations of wrestling at a Division I college.”
Senior Night! Let’s Clinch The CCC West Tonight!!! pic.twitter.com/H0NktwGZXm
— Simsbury Wrestling (@SimsburyWrest) February 6, 2019
A host of underclassmen have contributed to the stellar season in addition to Finn. Sam Bergin (160), John Mariano (126-132) and Saul Pera (126-132) are key components as well as senior Aiden Brown.
Simsbury finished third in the CCC tournament a year ago. There is no CCC tournament this year due to AD vote, giving the Trojans extra time to prepare for next Saturday’s Class L finals.
The eyed prize is even bigger for Simsbury, though. Winning a State Open or New England title is a goal after such a strong campaign and difficult schedule.
“I think we’re a better tournament team than a meet team,” Silva said. “I think we can place 14 guys at states to give us a shot at the Open title. I told the guys after each of our big wins, we’re not settling.”
No. 7 Xavier made a serious statement on the eve of the postseason, scoring several pins en route to a 55-12 win over SCC rival Foran on Wednesday night.
The two top programs in the conference went head-to-head in Middletown, but it was the hosts who dominated most of the night. Marcelius Ruiz, Tom Cullen, Jameel Salami Mike Rapuano and Dylan Sousa were just five of the many winners for Xavier, which finished the season 12-4.
The Falcons have won the past two SCC titles and will go for the three-peat this weekend at the SCC championships.
Pretty special day for our wrestlers today – they go 5-0 to win the Foran Duals and Coach Bowen gets his 600th win! That is not a typo – 600 wins in his 32nd year as HC! Congrats coach!@lkelleyNB @WINYRadio @ciacsports @GameTimeCT @CT_Sports_Now @jeffjacobs123 @BCgenius pic.twitter.com/vYXztkfYDL
— Killingly Athletics (@kevinmarcoux9) February 2, 2019
Killingly coach Rich Bowen became just the second coach in state history to notch 600 career wins, accomplishing the feat in a 44-30 win over Foran on Saturday. Bowen is 12 victories off the top mark in the state (612), one that will likely be surpassed early next year. The Redmen sit at 26-2 ahead of the ECC tournament on Saturday.
— WardeVolleyball (@WardeVolleyball) February 1, 2019
Fairfield Warde’s Jason Shaughnessy claimed his 400th win last week as the Mustangs earned several FCIAC wins, and Trumbull coach Charlie Anderson made it 300 wins Tuesday as the Eagles topped Stamford 66-15.
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND
Saturday will be a busy day across the state as each conference will crown team and individual champions. The SCC championships take place at Law High School while the FCIACs will be held in New Canaan. The ECC (Fitch), SWC (New Fairfield) and NCCC (Granby) will also take place, as well as the Berkshire Valley. Xavier, Danbury, Killingly, New Milford, Canton and Gilbert will look to defend their tournament titles.
Avon was the lone team in the top 10 poll to finish the season undefeated, posting a 22-0 mark. No. 1 Danbury, No. 2 Simsbury, No. 3 Bristol Eastern and No. 5 Warde all finished with a single loss, against one another or an out-of-state power.