SOUTHINGTON — They knew exactly where they were in the state rankings heading into one of the more competitive meets on the calendar.
More importantly the Trumbull wrestling team knew who was ranked above it.
The Eagles were out to prove a point and did just as much, placing eight grapplers in the top three to take down the Connecticut Challenge on Saturday at Southington High School. The Eagles scored 186 points to edge the hosts (178); Bristol Eastern was third (165), Middletown took fourth (152) and Simsbury finished fifth (139.5).
Trumbull entered the week No. 8 in the latest CTWrestling.com Top 10 Poll, but beat four of the teams ranked ahead of them to take the top spot.
“That’s definitely been upsetting us recently,” said Trumbull senior Travis Longo. “Our coaches weren’t too happy about it and neither were we; we wanted to make a point. We had nine or 10 kids here and had five in the finals.”
The Eagles had four individual champions — Longo (113), Jack Ryan (120 pounds), Matt Ryan (138) and Joe Palmieri (182) — and earned enough points in consolations to win the title.
“We wanted to make some noise,” said Trumbull assistant Ben Anderson. “Last week we were at Xavier and took third by a point and two teams we beat were still ahead of us. After this weekend hopefully people start to recognize us a little more.”
Trumbull had nine place in the top four, including third-place Andy Grabinski at 106.
“We had some kids who were hurt and had kids who typically don’t start for us step up,” Anderson said. “Grabinski had a great day; all of our kids worked really hard to score us bonus points, that’s huge in tournaments like this.”
Bristol Eastern took the third spot by crowning four individual champions, two of which came in dramatic fashion. Tom Nichols prevailed in overtime over Simsbury’s John Mariano at 132 after more than eight minutes of action.
Trinidad Gonzalez suffered the worst possible start in falling behind 5-0 in the 220 final, including almost getting pinned. But the senior battled back for the length of the contest and secured enough takedowns to snatch a 9-8 win. Trent Thompson (106) and Justin Marshall (152) won titles for the Lancers.
Middletown crowned a pair of champions and another two finalists to take fourth place. Jacob Toth dominated at 195 and Kalil Shabazz took down the 126-pound weight class. Nygell Smikle was a runner-up at 285.
Southington was just eight points from knocking off the Eagles as a strong performance in consolation bracket with four third-place finishers gave the hosts hope. Jacob Cardozo (145) and Billy Carr (170) notched first-place finishes; the Blue Knights are without defending New England champion Paul Calo for the season (shoulder).
With the conference meets slated for Feb. 9, time is running out before the postseason. Bristol Eastern was ranked No. 2, Southington No. 3, Simsbury No. 5 and Middletown No. 7.
“I’m very excited for FCIACs and I was glad to get this under my belt before then,” Longo said. “It’s a confidence booster.”