There are no more easy matches now.
Conference championship weekend crowned individual and team champions across the state, and now the cream will rise to the top even further. Class meets are set to start Friday.
All four class meets will feature twists and turns along the way, but Class L could produce the most competitive team score.
Middletown hopes to be in the hunt for that title as a potential dark horse. The Blue Dragons turned in an outstanding regular season: A 19-2 record and No. 8 ranking in the most recent CTWrestling.com Top 10 Poll.
The Blue Dragons returned just one class placer but have built a solid lineup with a host of athletes stepping up. Jacob Toth (30-4) is the top seed at 195, Nygell Smikle is the top seed at 285 in his first season with the program and Kalil Shabazz (29-2) is the No. 2 seed at 126.
“The kids are really progressing well,” said Middletown coach Mark Fong. “They’ve really been focused in practice, buying into what we do and we’ve had a lot of kids who got better throughout the season.”
Elijah Cyr (34-1) should be in the hunt for the individual title at 113. He’s coming off an outstanding regular season that included a win over defending State Open champion Travis Longo during a quad meet.
“It should give him confidence,” Fong said. “He was also able to beat (Simsbury’s Ty Finn) twice early in the year and that gave him confidence. He had one bump against Drew Currier from Hall and that is probably a good thing to get him refocused. We could tell him as coaches the things to work on when he wins, but when if you lose and hear that it means a little more.”
Four of the top eight teams in the state will be at Bristol Central High School Friday and Saturday as Simsbury, Middletown and Xavier will look to dethrone defending champion Bristol Eastern. The Blue Dragons fell 37-34 to the Lancers during the regular season but came away knowing they’d be a force to be reckoned with.
“We’ve talked about it and our goal is to win it,” Fong said. “But we are going to need a lot of kids to wrestle their seed and get help elsewhere. If Bristol Eastern wrestles their best, they are going to win and is Simsbury wrestlers their best they can win.”
Three of those squads have had extra time off as the CCC didn’t hold a conference championship meet due to a league vote. Fong believes those squads will be at a slight disadvantage on Friday.
Danbury’s 32nd FCIAC championship in 33 seasons was expected heading into the weekend, but the Hatters accomplished something they might never have before.
Each Hatter who suited up in the tournament placed in the top six en route to 257 team points. Depth truly prevailed for Danbury, which crowned three individual champions in Kai O’Dell, Ryan Jack and Kyle Fields. Five others placed in the top three.
Killingly wrestling coach Rich Bowen on his team's ECC championship. pic.twitter.com/qKWX9Swl2a
— Peter Huoppi (@phuoppi) February 10, 2019
Killingly made it back-to-back ECC championships last weekend with 205 points, less than 20 more than runner-up Waterford. The Redmen hope to claim a Class M title on Saturday as they had three individual champions — Rene Bernier, Derek Turner and Danny Charron — at ECCs.
The Redmen finished second to Foran at last year’s Class M meet; Foran is coming off a second-place effort at the recent SCC championships.