SIMSBURY >> The Simsbury High wrestling team has its eyes on a CCC West championship. It is a prize that was once taken for granted by the Trojans – who won 11 CCC West championships in 14 years from 1988 through 2001.
A year ago, the league championship came down to a single match with Farmington with two matches going into triple OT. The visiting Indians won the match and the pennant by a point.
So, Simsbury was pleased to open its CCC West campaign a week ago with a dominating 57-15 victory over Southington. The Trojans had pins in the first five weight classes and won seven of the first nine bouts. It was their most lopsided win over Southington since winning by 33 points in 1996.
Simsbury also has an eye on winning some hardware at the Class LL championships in February. Top-ranked Danbury is the favorite but the Trojans would like to be in the hunt for a championship trophy that is presented to the top two teams in the tournament.
Head coach Ernie Goodwin has set up a schedule to test the mettle of his wrestlers. Two days after beating Southington, No. 6 Simsbury tangled with two-time defending Class M champion Ledyard and Timberlane, N.H., a squad that has finished second in New England a year ago.
No. 5 Ledyard took advantage of a forfeit and Ledyard’s Derek Schultz earned a hard-fought one-point victory at 113 pounds to help the host Colonels earn a 36-28 victory. Timberlane (12-0) beat the Trojans, 45-21. Ledyard had just two pins while Timberlane had four.
Simsbury (4-2, 2-0 CCC West) did win two of four matches at the Jerry Watkins Duals in Ledyard, beating Jonathan Law, 67-12 and South Kingston, R.I., 38-27.
And to top off a good two weeks of tough wrestling, Simsbury travels to Danbury on Friday night to take on the top-ranked Hatters (7-0).
“This is a nice stretch of good hard wrestling for us,” Goodwin said. “We’ll know where we stand. We have some kids with some aspirations. They’ll know where they stand after these two weeks.”
The fact that Simsbury beat Southington wasn’t as surprising as the final margin. Goodwin attributed it to injuries. Southington coach Derek Dion wasn’t in the mood to make excuses.
Dion wants to focus on the work that his team needs to accomplish in practice and on the mat. “(Simsbury) was a little more aggressive and we just began working technique this week,” he said.
The fact is that Southington is in a bind because how long the high school football season went. He had several wrestlers on the Blue Knight football team that won its first Class LL championship on Thursday, Dec. 19 – one day after the opening day of the wrestling season.
Even if the finals had not been delayed by snow and rain, the season would have ended on Saturday, Dec. 14. It’s a burden to the eight schools that play in the four respective football championship games.
Some wrestlers need time to heal. Others need time to get certified to wrestle at their respective weight classes. Some are hurt. Running back Tyler Hyde was forecast to wrestle at 170 pounds but he broke his wrist in the championship game win over Fairfield Prep. And some were too tired or hurt to continue a physical sport such as wrestling.
Simsbury looked sharp. They gave up just one takedown in the first eight matches.
Rob Misericordia (120), Keith Penney (126), Ryan Juliano (132), Keith Fernandes (138) and Lee Doyle (145) got Simsbury off to a dominating start and a 30-0 lead with five consecutive first period pins.
“We look for our guys to set the tempo of the match and get their wrestling done,” Goodwin said. “If you’re going to lose, make sure the other guys beats you and you don’t beat yourself.”
Two wins by Southington provided a brief spark of hope for the Knights. Alex Martin (152) got a takedown in overtime to beat Sean Penney, 4-2 and Sean Devin (160) held off a late rally from Mike Ryan for a 4-3 win.
But Simsbury ensured that there would be big comeback. Tucker Salls (170) and James DeMaio (182) had pins in 4:50 and 1:02, respectively, to secure this victory.
It was Simsbury’s second straight win over Southington – something they haven’t done since winning three in a row in 1996-98.
“They’re focused and they’re battling hard,” Goodwin said. “For the most part, they wrestled smart. They’re a tough team. A lot of them did off-season wrestling and it’s showing, which is nice.”
Against Ledyard, the Colonels took a 9-0 lead on a forfeit at 106 and Schultz’s 2-1 win over Vincent Palmermo. Keith Penney (120) put Simsbury on the board with a pin but a pin and a tech fall gave Ledyard a 20-6 lead after five matches. Fernandes (138) and Doyle (145) each had pins to pull Simsbury within two, 20-18 but Ledyard won the next three bouts with pin and two decisions to take a commanding 33-18 lead. DeMaio (182), Jacob Feldman (195) and Brad Helmkamp (285) won three of the final four bouts but it wasn’t enough.
Against Timberlane, the Trojans had a 15-9 lead after six matches with pins from Salls (170) and Feldman (195) and a win from DeMaio (182). But the Owls won seven of the final eight bouts to earn the victory.
Simsbury 57, Southington 15
120: Rob Misericordia (Sims) pin Austin Garuti (South) 0:52. 126: Keith Penney (Sims) pin Kyle Solomon (South) 1:46. 132: Ryan Juliano (Sims) pin Josh Gravel (South) 1:45. 138: Keith Fernandes (Sims) pin Adam Dell (South) 0:15. 145: Lee Doyle (Sims) pin John Vecchio (South) 0:53. 152: Alex Martin (South) dec. Sean Penney (Sims) 4-2, OT. 160: Sean Devin (South) dec. Mike Ryan (Sims) 4-3. 170: Tucker Salls (Sims) pin Stefan Mayette (South) 4:50. 182: James DeMaio (Sims) pin Jake Armstrong (South) 1:02. 195: Zach Maxwell (South) dec. Jacob Feldman (Sims) 8-1. 220: John Daguerre-Bradford (Sims) pin Andrew Syzmanski (South) 2:56. 285: Brad Helmkamp (Sims) forfeit; 106: Zach Murillo (South) pin Josh Kowalski (Sims) 4:58. 113: Vincent Palermo (Sims) dec. Austin Abacherll (South) 15-8