By MICHAEL LETENDRE
MERIDEN – Even without its full line-up to battle Platt on the road, the Bristol Eastern wrestling squad faced – perhaps – its best competition the Central Connecticut Conference, Southern division had to offer on Wednesday, Jan. 24.
The Panthers unleashed a tough line-up up and down its roster and midway through the event, it was just a four point match between the schools.
However, the Lancers quickly ran away with the thing, scoring 29 straight points, as Eastern defeated Platt 51-18 from Orville Platt high school in Meriden.
“I think Platt is one of the best teams in the league, a really quality Class M team,” said Bristol Eastern coach Bryant Lishness. “They have returning place winners on this team so I thought it was good.”
“I was eager to see what was going to happen tonight because we have a couple injuries.”
Mikey Barrette wasn’t in the line-up and Eastern had to juggle around its middle weights and those grapplers did a nice job in those classes.
Tyler King came in to wrestle at 152, Justin Marshall (160), Dylan Levesque (170), and Tyler Varasconi (182) all wrestled up before Trinidad Gonzalez and Platt’s Ben Stratton put on an epic main event at 195.
“[We had] a new guy in the line-up, stretched out a little bit in the middle there,” said Lishness. “Some guys didn’t get overwhelmed and did a great job. Others, we’ve got to work on it.”
It was all started at 126 pounds as Carson Sassu made a quick takedown in his bout versus Jeremy Polanco-Castro but in the end, the grappler from Platt took a 14-8 decision.
At 132, Gabe Soucy led Rasec Rodriquez 9-1 over two periods of action before earning an 11-2 major decision victory as Eastern went ahead in the event 4-3 and never trailed again.
Noah Piazza (138) then pinned Luis Santiago in 1:27 and Diego Fernandez defeated Damian Morris via pin-fall in 2:42 as the Eastern edge was extended to 16-3.
The teams then exchanged points as Dante Morris pinned King in 1:57 while Marshall was ahead in points 7-1 before collected a pin over Mahmoud Hassan in 4:51 as the Lancers led 22-9 in the match.
But the Panthers took the next two matches when Zavian Arroyo (170) pinned Dylan Levesque in 5:13 while Ryan Greene (182) had major trouble against Tyler Varasconi – narrowly winning by a 3-2 decision.
And then, it was time for Gonzalez and Stratton to take center stage.
“That was a great match,” said Lishness of Gonzales/Stratton showdown.
The meet was 22-18 at that point in Eastern’s favor and another loss could have given Platt back the lead.
“Stratton took second last year in the Class M’s last year at 160 and now he’s up at 182,” said Lishness. “The match was tight at that point. They knew we had an injury at 182 and a newer guy in there so Platt weighted in two 182s. So they put the younger one against Tyler and it was the right move. It was a tight match there. Platt ended up getting it.”
The 195 match was close as a takedown and an escape by Gonzales saw the Eastern grappler lead 3-1 through two periods.
By even as Stratton struggled throughout the final stanza, he managed a reserve on Gonzales and with 12.8 second left in regulation, it was all tied up at 3-3.
But with 6.2 second remaining, and – with Gonzales on the bottom – the Eastern wrestler simply sprinted forward, broke Stratton’s grip to score an escape point, being pushed out of bounds in the process.
Those two points ended the stalemate as Gonzales came away with a huge 5-3 decision.
“They put their big gun up against Trin,” said Lishness. “He’s giving up 13 pounds so it’s not an easy bump but Ben’s a real quality kid. I thought that was the match of the night. I thought Trin did a great job. I know Trin wanted that match-up too because Trin lost to [E.O. Smith’s] Isaiah Rivera a couple weeks ago, bumped up. And then Ben beat Rivera pretty good so I know Trin. He measures himself with those types of things.”
“He wanted that match [and] I thought he did a great job.”
Once the decision by Gonzales came to pass, the Panthers never scored in the meet again.
Hidekel Mangual (220) pinned Cesar Flores in 2:57 while Andrew Cercone (285) earned a victory by pin-fall over Luke Fuerstenberg in 2:14 as the score reached 37-18 as Eastern began to cruise.
Bryce Beebe (106) won via forfeit, Jordon Champagne (113) ramped up a 6-2 decision over James Rondini and in the final match of the evening, it was Tommy Nichols versus a very quick Isaiah Ross.
The freshman dominated Ross, scooping up a 1-0 score through one period and 7-0 after four minutes.
In the end, it was a clean sweep as Nichols just missed out on a near fall with 30 seconds left as he defeated Ross by a 12-0 major decision.
“He’s a tough kid,” said Lishness of Nichols. “He’s one of our freshman who came up through the Gladiators and has been wrestling down there and with the Connecticut National team as an eighth grader last year with John Knapp with KT Kids. He’s got tons and tons of matches under his belt. I know he is only a freshman but we come to expect that from him.”
“He’s a quality kid for such a young wrestler.”
In the end, Eastern’s 51-18 win put the Lancers in the drivers seat in the CCC South race but more importantly, showed the program’s versatility as a few more weekend tournaments were around the corner.
“I really want them tournament ready,” said Lishness. “I really overloaded the [weekend] tournament schedule this year. So were not going to have as many duel meets as a team as far as our record goes but our kids are still going to have over 30 matches and I think it’s going to be a little more quality pool of wrestlers then they would have otherwise seen by going to those tournaments, doing that with intention, hoping that they’re really ready when it comes to the postseason.”
BRISTOL EASTERN 51, PLATT 18
from Orville Platt high school
126: Jeremy Polanco-Castro (P) dec. Carson Sassu (BE), 14-8
132: Gabe Soucy (BE) major dec. Rasec Rodriquez (P), 11-2
138: Noah Piazza (BE) pin Luis Santiago (P), 1:27
145: Diego Fernandez (BE) pin Damian Morris (P), 2:42
152: Dante Morris (P) pin Tyler King (BE), 1:57
160: Justin Marshall (BE) pin Mahmoud Hassan (P), 4:51
170: Zavian Arroyo (P) pin Dylan Levesque (BE), 5:13
182: Ryan Greene (P) dec. Tyler Varasconi (BE), 3-2
195: Trinidad Gonzalez (BE) dec. Ben Stratton (P), 5-3
220: Hidekel Mangual (BE) pin Cesar Flores (P), 2:57
285: Andrew Cercone (BE) pin Luke Fuerstenberg (P), 2:14
106: Bryce Beebe (BE) forfeit
113: Jordon Champagne (BE) dec. James Rondini (P), 6-2
120: Tommy Nichols (BE) major dec. Isaiah Ross (P), 12-0