By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The Bristol Eastern wrestling team has never scored 60 points against its crosstown rival Bristol Central in a city series battle.
Well, until Wednesday, Feb. 8 that is.
The Lancers, the third ranked squad in all the state, toppled the Rams in their annual clash by a 60-12 final from the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium.
The 60 points were the most points either team had ever amassed in the mat battles between the schools – a feud that dates back to 1963 – as Eastern finished the campaign undefeated at 19-0, the first such ledger in program history.
“I was pleased overall,” said Eastern coach Bryant Lishness. “It was a really emotional match. I know Central might have been a little overmatched this year. We’ve got a pretty solid team [and] I know Central is a little bit young. They had some injuries so that definitely changes their line-up.”
The Lancers also clinched the CCC South championship for the sixth time over the last seven years.
Central, battered and bruised coming in to the event, hardly showed it as the line-up battled in spirited matches from the get-go until the final horn sounded.
“I was happy with some of the performances that we had, though, even in the losses,” said Central coach Matt Boissonneault.
But the Lancers were back, healthy and whole, and the squad certainly looked to be in midseason form.
“They did a good job,” said Lishness of his squad. “I wanted them to be smart and classy, go out there and get the job done. And for the most part, that’s what they did so I was real happy with it.”
Central had to tangle with Eastern’s middle-heavyweights, certainly a strength of the Lancers’ program, to open the event.
But the Rams hung around and when it was time for Central star Chris Trelli (106) to get on the mats, Central was only trailing 24-6.
“We fought hard, fought through it,” said Boissonneault. “[Eastern’s] a good team, their entire lineup. They don’t really have any holes.”
And all the fun started at 160 pounds.
Mikey Barrett did a cartwheel takedown of Central’s Connor Feeney-Wallace, made a quick cradle and pin in 33 seconds while Eastern’s Trinidad Gonzalez (170) went the distance with Jeremy Ganavage, picking up a 6-0 win via decision and the Lancers were leading 9-0 out the gate.
Eastern’s Zac Marquis (182) used a couple of takedowns, a single leg trip and earned a 5-0 edge on Central’s Jason Johnson through one period before ramping up a pin-fall win in 4:28 – winning his 100th match in the process and joining a very exclusive list of Lancers with a triple figure win total.
The Lancers’ Keegan Bartis (195) and the Rams’ Damian Mahaffy couldn’t decide their match in the six minutes allotted so a little overtime was needed.
In the extra session, Bartis made the only takedown of the encounter with two seconds remaining to earn a 3-1 decision as the Lancers went up in the event 18-0.
“Damien Mahaffy was a JV wrestler at the beginning of the year,” said Boissonneault. “We’ve had some injuries. He was bumped up a weight-class. He lost a tough match in overtime there.”
Central’s Mike Guzman and Eastern’s Hidekal Mangual had a war as well and the match went to a third period when the Rams finally got on the board, with Guzman earning the pin in 4:28.
“Mike Guzman had a great match, outworked [Mangual] and had that pin in the end,” said Boissonneault. “Mangual is a quality opponent. They’ll probably see each other again [in the postseason].”
From there, Eastern heavyweight, Andrew Cercone (285), took on the much lighter John Duncan but the Central grappler scored the first takedown of the bout for an early edge.
But Cercone escaped, made a takedown of his own with 1:04 remaining in the first period, and got the pin in 1:11 – putting the Lancers ahead 24-6.
“I thought, at heavyweight, John Duncan’s giving up a lot of weight. He’s a second year wrestler,” said Boissonneault. “He got that first takedown. I was happy with some of those earlier matches.”
Rams’ Chris Trelli (106) controlled spunky Bryce Beebe but needed to go the distance to earn a 6-0 decision before Eastern’s Jordon Champagne (113) pinned Chris Ganavage in fifty-four seconds.
Carson Sassu (120) followed that Eastern win with one of his own, making a loud takedown, cradle and pin over Central’s Mason Hale in 28 seconds.
Central’s Travis Parsons (126) got Central back on the board, scooping up a 4-0 edge after two minutes, eventually beating Noah Corliss in an 8-2 decision.
“I thought Chris Trelli wrestled well,” said Boissonneault. “I thought Travis Parsons as a senior captain came out there, keeping himself composed, did a good job.”
At that point in the match, Eastern was cruising at 36-12 and then scored four straight pin-falls to end the evening.
First, Jack Kachidurian (132) made his only takedown of his match against Central’s Nevin Tulloch in five seconds – earning the pin in 1:12 as the Eastern lead continued to grow.
“They’re the third-ranked team in the state because they’re the third ranked team in the state,” said Boissonneault. “They’ve earned that. They’re very good, they’re very experienced.”
Eastern’s Noah Piazza (138) also took down Joey Frechette early in their bout and the pin came in 51 seconds before Anthony Lozier (145) got into the fray.
The Eastern captain took down Caleb Buden nearly 30 seconds into his match, and wasting very little time, saw the referee slap the mat once in 1:30 as the Lancers had the meet in had at 54-12.
“I was really happy for him, senior captain,” said Lishness of Lozier. “He just went out there and got it done. [It] was nothing fancy, just going out there and battling and putting the exclamation point on for his duel season. His senior year at home, he’s a part of four teams that have won this [Eastern/Central] match.”
Finally, the Eastern quarterback was in action at 152, firing up the crowd, as Justin Marshall ended up pinning Andrew Bucar in 1:20 and generated the Lancers point number 60 of the evening in the victorious effort.
While Eastern dominated the event, it certainly didn’t seem like it as the Rams fought to the end.
“I’m happy with the effort that my kids showed and that’s what we talked about,” said Boissonneault. “They’re certain things we won’t be able to control tonight. But some of the things we could control: wrestling hard, fighting for positions…I think we did a good job so I’m happy with that.”
After a one year absence as the CCC South champion, Eastern moved to 6-0 in the winning endeavor and – once again – claimed that title for the sixth time out of the past seven.
“To get the CCC [South title] back, I know, meant a lot to them, the seniors” said Lishness after Middletown had won it the previous season. “Last year, we lost it and to get it back this year, I know they’re real happy.”
While the win also meant Eastern went undefeated in the regular season, the program realizes there’s even bigger picture to be had as the postseason was quickly upon the squad.
“I mean undefeated’s great,” said Lishness. “It’s fun to talk about and things like that but I’ve been saying all year, it comes down to the postseason and what we do there because this is a team that’s got some goals to do something there.”
“They’re not done [yet]. They’ve been ramping up their work in practice and we have the CCC Tournament this weekend.”
NOTES…Before the bouts, the Central/Eastern wrestling alumni who were in attendance were recognized as were the members of the Gladiators wrestling program- allowed to enjoy all the action at the edge of the mats.
BRISTOL EASTERN 60, BRISTOL CENTRAL 12
from the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium, Bristol Eastern
160 pounds: Mikey Barrett (BE) pin Connor Fenney-Wallace (BC), 0:33; 170: Trinadad Gonzalez (BE) dec. Jeremy Ganavage (BC), 6-0; 182: Zac Marquis (BE) pin Jason Johnson (BC), 4:28; 195: Keegan Bartis (BE) dec. Damian Mahaffy (BC), 3-1 OT; 220: Mike Guzman (BE) pin Hidekel Mangual (BE), 4:28; 285: Andrew Cercone (BE) pin John Duncan (BC), 1:11; 106: Chris Trelli (BC) dec. Bryce Beebe (BE), 6-0; 113: Jordon Champagne (BE) pin Chris Ganavage (BC), 0:54;
120: Carson Sassu (BE) pin Mason Hale (BC), 0:28; 126: Travis Parsons (BC) dec. Noah Corliss (BE), 8-2; 132: John Kachidurian (BE) pin Nevin Anderson-Tulloch (BC), 1:12; 138: Noah Piazza (BE) pin Joe Frechette (BC), 0:51; 145: Anthony Lozier (BE) pin Caleb Buden (BC), 1:30; 152: Justin Marshall (BE) pin Andrew Bucan (BC), 1:20.
Records: Bristol Eastern 19-0 overall; Bristol Central 8-8