By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – It was a 21-year odyssey between Class L championships for the Bristol Eastern wrestling team.
And on Saturday, Feb. 21, that journey was finally completed.
The Lancers were able to upend long standing state champion New Milford by a single point, 231-230 to claim the Class L prize.
It was the squad’s first championship since 1996 when Eastern won the Class L’s with 171 points, 17 points better than runner-up Weaver (154)
New Milford had won the last four state championships as the Lancers broke a record the Green Wave started in 2013.
Eastern made little history along the way as the one-point win was the smallest margin of victory ever at the Class L championship event. In 2011, New Milford won the Class L title by one-and-half points and the Lancers topped that mark.
And it’s the second smallest margin of victory ever in state championship history as only Berlin in 1991 won a meet by fewer points (0.5 points).
Last season, New Milford won the Class L championship and Bristol Eastern was the runner up.
But this time around, the Lancers got the overall victory as 10 of 14 Eastern’s wrestlers placed in the top six and three of those grapplers won individual championships.
In what Eastern coach Bryant Lishness once called the “wheelhouse” of his line-up, Mikey Barrett (160), Trinidad Gonzalez (170), and Zac Marquis (182) all won individual championships on the way to the Class L title.
Barrett was able to score a third period pin of New London’s Jake Commander in 5:05 as the junior earned the biggest win of his career.
In that fateful third period, Barrett made a critical reversal with 1:50 remaining and soon after, the referee slapped the mat once for the championship pin.
And then Gonzalez, ever improving as the season went on, also won via pin as he defeated Okotie Ikani in the finals in 4:44.
Gonzalez already had four points on the board after one period of action and earned another point off stalling and later an escape.
But early in the third, Gonzalez simply overwhelmed Ikani and got the pin-fall championship win.
Finally in the 182 championship, Marquis went the full six minutes with Edwin O. Smith’s Isaiah Rivera but the Lancers’ grappler notched an impressive 9-4 decision as the top seed in the event won it all.
Rivera was nearly out of it before the end of the first two minute period when Marquis made two near-falls – his last coming with 16 seconds to go – and the Eastern warrior led 6-0 after one tilt.
But Rivera gave it a run and had a near-fall on his own in the second frame but after two periods, it was a 6-3 lead for Marquis.
In the third and final stanza, Marquis made an escape with 1:21 to go and twenty-five seconds later, he had another takedown of Rivera for a 9-3 edge.
Rivera escaped with 50 seconds left but was unable to take Marquis down again as the grappler from Bristol earned the championship with a five-point decision.
Seven other Eastern wrestlers had amazing individual efforts – enabling the Lancers program to go undefeated in 2016-17.
Four grapplers from BE earned third place match-ups and each came away with fourth place finishes.
At 106 pounds, Wilton’s Travis Longo had a 6-0 decision over Bryce Beebe and then at 113,
Brandon Leonard of New Milford was able to roll up a 3-1 decision over Jordon Champagne.
Then at 145, Zakery Santoemma from Daniel Hand narrowly defeated Anthony Lozier by one, 2-1.
And at 152, Ben Coppock of the Immaculate/Joel Barlow co-op was just able to sneak out a 4-2 decision over Justin Marshall.
The Lancers were also involved in three fifth-place bouts in which the champs took two of three matches.
At 120 pounds, Carson Sassu grabbed a pin-fall win over Farmington’s Kyle Wolkner in 3:16 while at 132, John Kachidurian needed just 2:16 to pin South Windsor’s Jacob Hill.
Finally at 220, Hand’s Christian Westphal pinned Eastern big man Hidekel Mangual in 1:45.
Eastern and New Milford were battling in the 1-2 position at the tournament from the onset.
After one day of action, the Lancers were in front of the Green Wave 71-63 and on championship Saturday, the lead went back and fourth like a yo-yo.
Eastern was up early in the morning by four but later in the day, New Milford led 129-126.
The Lancers tied that score up at 129-129 but soon after, New Milford had scored several victories and nearly led Eastern 189-133.
That all changed very quickly and as the evening approached, it was a nip and tuck affair again until the very end as Eastern won the meet by a single point and will soon have a new banner to raise in the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium.
The Lancers, the third rated team in the state, should move up the final rankings in the Norwich Bulletin wrestling poll.
New Milford was rated second but Danbury, who was at No. 1, defeated Xavier 272.5 to 191 points.
Bristol Central ended the championship in 16th place overall and had two grapplers place in the top six.
In the championship at 106, Central’s Chris Trelli and Jarod Kosman of Fitch when the distance but an escape gave the athlete from Groton a 1-0 victory.
Trelli earned the runner-up trophy while at 220 pounds, Mike Guzman was pinned in the third place bout, falling to Rob Krajewski of Masuk in one minute.
CLASS L WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIP
from Bristol Central high school
Team Results: Top Five
Champion – Bristol Eastern, 231 points
Runner-up – New Milford, 230
Third – Daniel Hand, 143.5
Fourth – New London, 127.5
Fifth – Hall, 117
Other notables: Bristol Central (16th place, 66.5 points). The Rams had two place winners over the top six.
Individual Place Winners: Bristol Eastern/Bristol Central
1st Jarod Kosman (Fitch) DEC Christopher Trelli (Bristol Central), 1-0
3rd Travis Longo (Wilton) DEC Bryce Beebe (Bristol Eastern), 6-0
1st Devon Schoenberger (South Windsor) F Robert Hartling (E.O. Smith), 3:25
3rd Brandon Leonard (New Milford) DEC Jordon Champagne (Bristol Eastern), 3-1
1st Collin Lindner (New Milford) MD Mark Hartmann (Daniel Hand), 13-3
3rd Michael Fedorko (Masuk) DEC Noah Sylvester (Middletown), 10-7
5th Carson Sassu (Bristol Eastern) F Kyle Wolkner (Farmington), 3:16
1st Demetre Carnot (Maloney) DEC Christopher-tyler Schultz (New Milford), 5-4
3rd Kyle Sheehan (Pomperaug) DEC Shamar Schand (Manchester), 10-9
5th John Kachidurian (Bristol Eastern) F Jacob Hill (South Windsor), 2:16
1st Carson Licastri (Immaculate/Joel Barlow) DEC Eli Perry (Hall), 7-2
3rd Zakery Santoemma (Daniel Hand) DEC Anthony Lozier (Bristol Eastern), 2-1
1st Mathew Pangle (Pomperaug) F Tom Gatti (Middletown), 3:29
3rd Ben Coppock (Immaculate/Joel Barlow) DEC Justin Marshall (Bristol Eastern), 4-2
1st Mikey Barrett (Bristol Eastern) F Jacob Commander (New London), 5:05
1st Trinadad Gonzalez (Bristol Eastern) F Okotie Ikani (Hall), 4:44
1st Zac Marquis (Bristol Eastern) DEC Isaiah Rivera (E.O. Smith), 9-4
1st Renelson Michel (New London) DEC Granit Hoti (Darien), 4-3
3rd Robert Krajewski (Masuk) F Michael Guzman (Bristol Central), 1:00
5th Christian Westphal (Daniel Hand) F Hidekel Mangual (Bristol Eastern), 1:45
Here was the seating for the Bristol Eastern wrestling squad at the Class L wrestling tournament from Bristol Central high school this past weekend and individual records for each grappler coming into the event:
Weight-class, Name, Seed, Record,
106 pounds, Bryce Beebe, No. 4, 32-6
113 pounds, Jordon Champagne, No. 3, 32-3
120 pounds, Carson Sassu, No. 5, 27-8
126 pounds, Noah Corliss, No. 11, 21-12
132 pounds, John Kachidurian, No. 8, 22-13
138 pounds, Noah Piazza, No. 10, 21-13
145 pounds, Anthony Lozier, No. 5, 26-8
152 pounds, Justin Marshall, No. 9, 7-2
160 pounds, Mikey Barrett, No. 2, 32-2
170 pounds Trinidad Gonzalez, No. 2, 30-4
182 pounds Zac Marquis, No. 11, 9-2
195 pounds Keegan Bartis, No. 7, 17-11
220 pounds Hidekel Mangual, No. 10, 8-2
285 pounds Andrew Cercone, No. 10, 13-4
Through one day, here were the standings of the meet:
Place Team Points
First Bristol Eastern 71
Second New Milford 63
Third Daniel Hand 51.5
Fourth Middletown 48
Fifth Hall 43