MIDDLETOWN >> Middletown’s sixth-ranked, undefeated wrestlers staged another Pin Festival Wednesday night, recording eight pins on their way to a 57-12 Central Connecticut Conference South win over Bristol Central in front of a noisy, near-capacity Senior Night crowd at Keigwin Middle School.
“Our ability to get pins is a huge difference,” said Middletown coach Mark Fong, who saw his team improve to 17-0. “It’s been our strength all year.”
The night started with a pin and ended with a pin.
The meet began at the 220 pound weight class and Middletown’s Tre’quan Weston pinned Mike Guzman with one minute, 17 seconds left in the second period. It ended with Jordan Yap’s pin of Connor Staubley at 195 pounds with 1:43 left in the second round.
Between those bookends, Middletown’s Tino Pusz at 113 pounds, Noah Sylvester at 120 pounds, Andre Rogers at 132 pounds, Jordan Baker — his 100th career win — at 138 pounds, Baki Kuroca at 170 pounds and Jayden Rodriguez at 182 pounds all recorded pins.
“What’s also good is that we didn’t give up any pins,” Fong said. “Even in the matches we lost, all were close and none were pins.”
For the uninitiated, a pin is worth six points while an ordinary win — there are some variations on that theme — is worth only three. Get eight pins and it’s tough to lose.
Despite the lop-sided score, the meet featured several hotly contested matches, two of which went to overtime. Bristol Central (12-4) won the heavyweight class when Chris Nizielski beat Max Cyr, 2-1, and at 126 pounds, when Middletown’s John Grasis beat Jake Hale in four overtimes, with the winning point coming just before the buzzer at the end of fourth OT.
“The final score is not indicative of the meet,” Fong said. “There were very competitive matches all night and again, those pins made a huge difference.”
Central won four of the 14 matches. Besides Nizielski’s win, Shane Oxton beat Isiah King, 11-6, at 145 pounds, Julian Galindez beat Tom Gatti, 3-2, at 152 pounds and Kuba Kreciglowa defeated Chris Tewksbury, 9-5, at 160 pounds.
In the remaining match, Middletown picked up six points when T.J. Pawlak was awarded what amounted to a forfeit win over Chris Trelli at 106 pounds when the referee called an illegal move against Trelli.
“The rules say if a wrestler makes an illegal move and his opponent is injured and can’t continue because of that move, then the win is awarded to the injured kid and it’s six points, like a pin,” Fong said. “At the time it was a huge point swing.”
Trelli was winning 9-1 when the move happened late in the third period. It was the third match of the night and took Middletown’s 6-3 lead to 12-3. Had that not happened, the meet would have been tied 6-6
“I thought we wrestled very well,” said Fong. “We were aggressive the whole night and we fought for every point. To keep Central from not getting any pins was significant because they have some very tough kids.”
Fong credited his senior class.
“Wrestling is a very tough sport,” he said. “If I could get eight freshmen to come out and stick with it through all four years of high school, I’d be set. But that rarely happens. This year I do have a solid group of seniors who stuck it out for four years [there are nine seniors on the team] and that’s why we are having a lot of success.
“We have depth all through our lineup.”
Middletown will participate in the Portland Invitational along with 15 other teams on Saturday. The Dragons have one CCC dual meet left at Berlin on Feb. 10.