BRANFORD — In three of the last four winters, Branford couldn’t beat Guilford on the wrestling mat.
But things changed dramatically Wednesday night as the Hornets captured 9 of 14 matches en route to a 54-19 Southern Connecticut Conference victory at the James MacVeigh Alumni Athletic Complex.
“We wanted to show people we’re an up-and-coming team in the SCC A-Division,” said Branford coach Chris Bonagiuso. “That’s a good team and we said it would take each wrestler six minutes, but they bought into everything we said in practice.”
Branford (5-1 in the SCC A Division and 13-10 overall) trailed only once in the team score as Guilford’s Jake Lundberg opened the match with an 8-0 major decision over Tikee Whitfield at 170 pounds.
However, Branford won the next six matches, four by pinfall, to take a 30-4 edge. Included in that run was 182-pounder Dakota Carden’s 52nd consecutive win as he pinned Owen Marks in just 1:21.
Other pins in that spurt came from Kyle Zalewski at 220 pounds over Taki Alyasri in 50 seconds, Hyun Kim Lin over Robert Godsey at 285 pounds in just 37 seconds, and Bijaya Jaisi at 106 pounds over Brandon Filley in 5:44. Alex Rasmus of Branford also beat Billy Conover by injury default in 4:07 at 195 pounds, while Noah Pantani won by forfeit at 113 pounds.
Guilford closed it to 36-16 as Carter Cox and McKay LaRose won decisions and Andrew Ignoto picked up a pin at 126 pounds over Stella Kelly.
But a pin in 2:35 by Dalton Carden over Christian Swan at 138 pounds clinched the match for Branford.
“Dalton Carden has been sick with the flu all week and didn’t practice one minute yesterday,” said Bonagiuso. “We needed a big effort and got it from him even though he wasn’t feeling well.”
Branford also collected pins by Nick Temple over Drew Tischer at 152 pounds in 5:22 and Cameron O’Neill over A.J. Moscato in 3:43 at 160 pounds. Guilford’s Oscar Carmona took a 5-1 decision over Jordan Botte at 145 pounds in the other match.
Guilford coach Craig Vedrani wasn’t happy with his team’s performance.
“Horrible. We didn’t do what we were taught to do,” Vedrani said. “Everything that could go wrong went wrong. It was one of those nights. We’ve been battling injuries and sicknesses not at full strength.
Guilford also wrestled without two starters in Colin Rook and Julian Crampton as the Indians have been battling injuries and sickness.
“We forfeited at 113 pounds and had to bump some guys around, which didn’t work out,” said Vedrani. “Hopefully, we’ll rebound and regroup this weekend and get everyone healthy.”
BRANFORD 54, GUILFORD 19
106 pounds: Bijaya Jaisi (B) pinned Brandon Filley, 5:44; 113 pounds: Noah Pantani (B) won by forfeit; 120 pounds: Carter Cox (G) def. David Caron, 10-5; 126 pounds: Andrew Ignoto (G) pinned Stella Kelly, 0:34; 132 pounds: McKay LaRose (G) def Zach Cash, 13-6; 138 pounds: Dalton Carden (B) pinned Christian Swan, 2:35; 145 pounds: Oscar Carmona (G) def. Jordan Botte, 5-1; 152 pounds: Nick Temple (B) pinned Andrew Tischer, 5:22; 160 pounds: Cameron O’Neill (B) pinned A.J. Moscato, 3:43; 170 pounds: Jake Lundberg (G) def. Tikee Whitfield, 8-0; 182 pounds: Dakota Carden (B) pinned Owen Marks, 1:21; 195 pounds: Alex Rasmus (B) def. Billy Conover, 4:07 (injury default); 220 pounds: Kyle Zalewski (B) pinned Taki Alyasri, 0:50; 285 pounds: Hyn Jin Lim (B) pinned Robert Godsey, 0:37.
Records: Branford, 13-10; Guilford, 11-7.