Undefeated and state champions

By MICHAEL LETENDRE

STAFF WRITER

BRISTOL – An undefeated regular season by the Bristol Eastern wrestling squad – a feat that’s happened over back-to-back campaigns – another CCC South title and 36 straight wins were an amazing accomplishment for the program this year.

But the team was looking for the ultimate accolade and that meant defending its Class L title on Saturday, Feb. 17 from the Charles C. Marsh Gymnasium on the campus of Bristol Central, and winning the championship one more time.

After two grueling days of hitting the mats in Bristol, there was another banner to hang in the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium.

And they’re starting to run out of room on the walls for those championship accolades by the wrestling squad.

Behind the power of four individual championships, Eastern won the Class L title behind an excellent 231 point showing, enough to stave off runner-up Xavier of Middletown (196.5 points).

The Lancers have won two straight titles and were the Class L runner’s up in 2015-16 – an amazing run that has seen the locals dethrone New Milford’s as the elite team in Class L in the state of Connecticut.

In fact New Milford, who several observers saw as Eastern’s biggest obstacle at the tournament, came in a distant third at 173 points.

New Canaan (163.5 points) brought home fourth place, Daniel Hand (123.5) earned fifth while Central Connecticut Conference challenger Wethersfield (106.5) took sixth.

Bristol Central made a great showing, scoring 102.5 points and had four grapplers place in the top five of their classes.

It was another banner day for Eastern athletics and the finals were loaded with Lancers up and down the line-up.

Right before the finals commenced, Eastern tallied 208 team points, was sitting in first place and in the pole position at the event.

The Lancers were ahead of second place Xavier, 208-178.5 while New Milford was hanging around in third place with 169.

But the Lancers had to get through the semifinals to keep up that pace and by the time the finals rolled around, six Eastern wrestlers were in the final round.

In the semifinals at 106, Bryce Beebe defeated Eli Cyr of Middletown by a 9-4 decision – punching his ticket to the finals.

Then at 113, Jordon Champagne nabbed an 8-0 major decision over New Milford’s Luke Schell and he was finals bound as well.

The 120 pound all-Bristol bout saw Bristol Central’s Chris Trelli pin Tom Nichols with seven seconds left in the match at 5:53.

And Trelli was sent to the final round.

Fast forward to 145 and it was all about Diego Fernandez – a 7-2 decision victor over E.O. Smith’s Nick Richardson.

Fernandez was in the finals for BE and ready to win a championship.

What about Bristol Eastern quarterback Justin Marshall at 152?

Well, the QB rushed his way into the finals with a 7-6 decision over New Canaan’s Christian Sibbett.

Mikey Barrett, the man at 160 pounds, was an easy 10-3 decision winner over Markeese Thompson from Maloney.

Back in the championship mix, Trinidad Gonzalez squared off against Julian Reza of New Milford and the grappler from Eastern was a pin-fall victor in 5:14.

And credit belonged to Central’s Mike Guzman at 220, battling Fitch’s Dakato Grover until the end but absorbed a tough 9-7 loss via decision.

The stage was set and the finals began with Xavier having a lot of work to do in attempting an upset bid over the Lancers.

The finals saw Beebe take the runner-up trophy, falling to Wilton’s Travis Longo by 5-0 decision and in the 113 championship match, Champagne fell to Fitch’s Jarod Kosman via a 4-1 decision.

And then at 120 pounds, Trelli won the championship behind a 12-4 major decision over New Milford’s Brandon Leonard.

Fernandez (145) then took his shot at New Canaan’s Nate Sibbett.

Sibbett made a takedown in the middle of the first period but Fernandez escaped to trail 2-1.

The score remained 2-1 going into the second frame but a repeat took place as Sibbett made a takedown before Fernandez escaped again.

Then Fernandez made a takedown of his own and thirty seconds into the second period, it was all tied up at 4-4.

A near fall gave Fernandez three points and with 10 seconds remaining in the second, he led the championship match, 7-4.

Fernandez took his three-point lead into the third period and made a quick escape, giving him an 8-4 edge.

Another takedown from Fernandez with 1:13 left gave the Eastern grappler a six-point edge and a state championship was in sight.

And in the end, Fernandez was the 145 state champion with a 10-6 win by decision.

Then, the Eastern quarterback was ready for his title bout as Marshall and Amity’s Matthew Rothman were scoreless through one frame and the battle was on.

Marshall then made an escape with just over one minute left to give him a 1-0 lead during second period action.

It was still 1-0 to start the third but Rotham secured a 2-1 lead but Marshall made an escape and with 1:25 left, things were all knotted up at 2-2.

Marshall then came back with a takedown, seizing a 4-2 edge with a minut left in regulation.

Rothman later escaped and it was 4-3 with some time left on the clock. But the warrior from Eastern was never taken down again.

In the end, it was a 4-3 triumph for Marshall and another individual champion for the Eastern program.

Barrett (160) followed with his bout against Wethersfield’s Alec Arnold and the Eastern grappler made his first takedown with less than fifty seconds to go in the first period.

It remained a 2-0 push in Barrett’s favor entering the second period and he quickly led 4-0 twenty seconds in.

And when the veteran held a 6-0 edge and halfway through the bout, the Bristol athlete was in control.

Arnold finally escaped with forty seconds left in the second but one last takedown by Barrett to end the period made the match an 8-1 tally as the number one seed was rolling.

Barrett escaped midway through the third and his 9-1 lead was looking good for a championship win.

There would not be a comeback by Arnold as Barrett earned another title – taking the 160 final by eight points.

Clearly, the Lancers were heading for its second straight state championship with one big final’s bout to go.

And then Gonzalez (195) made his championship appearance against Hall’s Justin Searls and the contest was a back-and-forth event to start.

Gonzalez made a late takedown with less than 10 seconds left and entering the second stanza, it was a 2-0 match.

Searls couldn’t escape Gonzalez and that 2-0 score remained intact as the third and final period commenced.

Gonzalez then led 3-0 as Searls was looking to score a quick takedown in the third to try to get back into the event.

Gonzales then made a go-ahead takedown with just over a minute in the bout and another championship for the junior was in sight.

It was 7-0 with less than 30 seconds to go and Searls was down and out.

At the final buzzer, Gonzalez was the 2017-18 Class L state champ at 195 pounds with his seven-point decision.

And that wrapped up another sensational year for Eastern, a back-to-back championship run, and an undefeated streak that will run into the 2018-19 campaign.

CIAC CLASS L WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS

from the Charles C. Marsh Gymnasium, Bristol Central

Team Scores

Champion: Bristol Eastern, 231 points

Runner-up: Xavier, 196.5

The Rest of the Top 10:

Team

Place Points

New Milford

3rd 173

New Canaan

4th 163.5

Daniel Hand

5th 129.5

Wethersfield

6th 106.5

Bristol Central

7th 102.5

Amity 8th 101

Wilton 9th 100.5

Fitch-Groton

10th 98.5

Individual Seeding for the Bristol squads:

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

106 Bryce Beebe – Sr. BE

3rd 30-4

106 Jake Aldi – Fr. BC

8th 25-12

Results…Beebe fell in the finals to Wilton’s Travis Longo by a 5-0 decision.

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

113 Jordon Champagne – Sr. BE

2nd 29-6

113 Adam Ward – Jr. BC

10th 21-16

Results…Fitch’s Jarod Kosman defeated Champagne, scooping up a 4-1 decision in the final match at 113.

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

120 Chris Trelli – Sr. BC 1st

29-6

120 Tom Nichols – Fr. BE

4th 32-9

Results…Trelli won the Class L title behind a 12-4 major decision over New Milford’s Brandon Leonard while Nichols took third place with a 7-0 decision over Quinn Moynihan of Xavier-Middletown.

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

126 Carson Sassu – Jr. BE 6th

19-7

126 Jason Feto – So.

BC 14th 17-20

Results…Sassu earned fourth place. He was pinned by Nick Rende of Wilton in 4:08.

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

132 Gabe Soucy – Jr. BE

11th 20-14

132 Mason Hale – Jr. BC

17th 6-10

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

138 Noah Piazza – Jr. BE

7th 23-14

138 Joe Frechette – Sr. BC 14th

12-19

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

145 Diego Fernandez – Jr. BE 1st

23-4

145 Andrew Mahaffy – Jr. BC 18th

7-22

Results…Fernandez racked up the championship win with a 10-6 victory over New Canaan’s Nate Sibbett via decision.

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

152 Justin Marshall – Jr. BE 3rd

24-6

152 Andrew Beaucar – Jr. BC 17th

7-17

Results…Marshall won the 152 title, earning a hard fought 4-3 decision over Amity’s Matthew Rothman.

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

160 Mikey Barrett – Sr. BE 1st

32-1

160 Caleb Buden – Jr. BC

6th 15-10

Results…Barrett dominated Alec Arnold of Wethersfield, 9-1, to claim the title at 160 by decision.

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

170 Damian Mahaffy – Sr. BC 5th

29-5

170 Dylan Levesque – Sr. BE 10th

23-12

Results…Mahaffy nabbed fifth place as he pinned Fairfield Ludlowe’s Justin Hathaway in 2:04.

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

182 Tyler Varasconi – Sr. BE 12th

10-7

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

195 Trinidad Gonzalez – Jr. BE 1st

28-5

195 Jakob Salinas – Fr. BC 13th

7-7

Results…Gonzalez blanked Hall’s Justin Searls by a 7-0 decision. He became a two-time state champion.

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

220 Mike Guzman – Sr. BC

4th 24-8

220 Hidekel Mangual – Sr. BE 10th

20-9

Results…Guzman took third place via 7-3 decision over New Canaan’s Nick Kortman while in the fifth place bout, Mangual pinned Derrick Pommills of Notre Dame-West Haven in 5:55.

Weight

Name/Year School Seed

Record

285 Andrew Cercone – Sr. BE 4th

23-6

285 John Duncan – Sr. BC

9th 13-13

Results…Duncan wrangled up a 3-1 decision over Nick Dejesus of Middletown for fifth place.e