MILFORD — Behind the strength of a 6-0 mark in the finals, Xavier captured its third consecutive Southern Connecticut Conference wrestling championship on Saturday at Jonathan Law’s Richetelli Gymnasium.
It was the seventh league title in eight years for the Falcons, with Foran in 2016 and inclement weather that forced the cancellation of the 2013 tournament the only things that have stopped them since 2011.
“Throughout the year I tell them we wrestle such a tough schedule, an out-of-state schedule, that it pays off now. This is where you get the rewards,” Xavier head coach Mike Cunningham said. “The guys stepped it up today, I’m proud of them. I don’t think it’s ever happened before (going undefeated in the finals).”
The championship was already wrapped up for Xavier heading into the championship round, as four Falcons were victorious in their third-place bouts. Xavier then reeled off six wins in six finals’ matches to cruise to the team title with 199.5 points. Foran was a distant second with 138.5 points, followed by East Haven (101), Guilford (75) and Daniel Hand (73) rounding out the top five.
In the 106-pound final, Xavier’s Michael Rapuano set the tone for the Falcons. The sophomore opened up an early 6-2 advantage before notching the fall over Guilford freshman Drew Koval in 1:12.
“We’ve been a good tournament team all year and today we brought it,” Rapuano said. “Even guys coming back for thirds and fourths. They kept up the good work.”
Tommy Manganiello followed suit at 126 for the Falcons, winning an 8-0 major decision over Henry Bosken of Fairfield Prep. Quinn Moynihan then pinned East Haven’s Tanner DiVito in 1:50, giving Xavier a perfect start in the finals. At 145, James Lunt controlled Vincent Mascola of Guilford en route to a 13-2 major decision.
Dylan Sousa picked up a pin over Foran’s Umer Khan at 170 for Xavier’s fifth finals’ win, before Jameel Salami capped off the gold-medal run in the last match of the night.
In a blood-stained contest with talented Shelton freshman Matt Weiner, whose face was heavily bandaged in an effort to stanch a facial injury, Salami recorded a takedown in overtime to secure a 3-1 victory.
While Xavier dominated the medal round, SCC newcomer Morgan made a mark in its first go-round at the league tournament. The Huskies competed as associate members of the SCC this winter and will start as full-time participants next season.
Husky sophomore standout Louis Bradley gave Morgan its first-ever SCC titlist, defeating Keldon LaRose of Guilford, 7-4.
Bradley, the Class S runner-up last year at 113, never trailed in the bout.
“It’s a lot better preparation for our team,” Bradley said of competing in a league tournament. “Last year, we just had practices for states and it wasn’t good enough preparation for the entire team…Our team is coming up, we have a foundation. The more we build on that foundation, the better we’re going to be as a whole.”
Host Jonathan Law was also represented on the medal podium, with senior Shayne McCourt winning the title at 152. His impressive tournament, where he conceded just six points in three bouts that culminated in a 19-4 technical fall over Fairfield Prep’s Sean Zentner in the final, garnered him most outstanding wrestler honors.
“How I practice in the room, it shows when I compete,” said McCourt, who improved to 36-2 overall.
1. Xavier 199.5; 2. Foran 138.5; 3. East Haven 101; 4. Guilford 75; 5. Daniel Hand 73; 6. Branford 71; 7. Fairfield Prep 59; 8. Shelton 55; 9. Jonathan Law 46; 10. Notre Dame-West Haven 37; 11. Amity 31; 12. Morgan 29; 12. New Haven 29; 14. West Haven 1; 15. Cheshire 1.
106: Final Michael Rapuano (Xavier) pin Drew Koval (Guilford), 1:12; 3. Dominic Milano (East Haven) dec. Colin Boufford (Amity), 9-2.
113: Final Victor Garcia (East Haven) TF Edward Barlage (Guilford), 19-4; 3. Colin Loria (Xavier) dec. Garrett Ziperstein (Shelton), 11-5.
120: Final Mathew Divito (East Haven) dec. Kyle Davern (Daniel Hand), 8-5; 3. Kyle Pokornowski (Foran) dec. Ronan Moynihan (Xavier), 15-2.
126: Final Tommy Manganiello (Xavier) dec. Henry Bosken (Fairfield Prep), 8-0; 3. Jordan Lang (Foran) dec. Cody Malin (Law), 8-3.
132: Final Louis Bradley (Morgan) dec. Keldon LaRose (Guilford), 7-4; 3. Grant Barber (Xavier) pin Alec DiVito (East Haven), 1:51.
138: Final Quinn Moynihan (Xavier) pin Tanner DiVito (East Haven), 1:50; 3. Tyler Stanko (Foran) dec. Chris Fillion (Notre Dame-West Haven), 3-2.
145: Final James Lunt (Xavier) dec. Vincent Mascola (Guilford), 13-2; 3. Ethan Edmondson (Foran) dec. Aisaiah Rodriguez (Law), 9-6.
152: Final Shayne McCourt (Law) TF Sean Zentner (Fairfield Prep), 19-4; 3. Andrew Robinson dec. (Branford) Mike Monaco (Shelton), 7-4.
160: Final Dean Tsiranides (Fairfield Prep) pin Chino Grant (New Haven), 0:38; 3. Luke Tischio (Xavier) dec. KJ Pokornowski (Foran), 4-3.
170: Final Dylan Sousa (Xavier) pin Umer Khan (Foran), 4:38; 3. Andrew Seaton (Amity) dec. Seamus Moriarty (Daniel Hand), 12-0.
182: Final Justin Osler (Branford) dec. Pat Brogan (Foran), 10-4; 3. Alex Barbour (Notre Dame-West Haven) pin James Rusciecki (Xavier), 1:36.
195: Final Nolan Bannon (Foran) dec. Cody McHenry (Branford), 20-8; 3. Alec Dube (Daniel Hand) pin Jackson Paulishen (Notre Dame-West Haven), 0:29.
220: Final Ray Weiner (Shelton) dec. Minsok Lee (Branford), 7-3; 3. Matt Derken (Daniel Hand) pin Billy Ives (Foran), 1:49.
285: Final Jameel Salami (Xavier) dec. Matt Weiner (Shelton), 3-1 OT; 3. Jaylin Houston (New Haven) pin Pat Rescanski (Foran), 1:38.