By MICHAEL LETENDRE
DANBURY – The Ryan Sabbagh Holiday Tournament was the final wrestling meet of the year for the squad from Bristol Eastern and on Saturday, Dec. 29, the Lancers were tested against the top squad in all of Connecticut.
Danbury ended up winning its own tournament, besting Eastern 222-201 for the championship but the Hatters, and the rest of the squads there, saw that the Lancers haven’t lost much from last season’s championship squad.
Eastern had six finalists at the bout, leading to three championships.
Overall, five Bristol grapplers earned third place finishes.
Danbury’s Kai O’Dell (106) needed two overtimes to finally defeat Eastern’s Trent Thompson by a 7-6 decision as the wrestler simply would not give in during the championship bout.
And then at 113 pounds, the Lancers’ Mason Lishness was a pin-fall winner over Abbott Tech’s Johnny Cerquiera in 5:20 for third place.
The 126 pound final saw Danbury’s Ryan Jack pinned Carson Sassu in 2:44 while in the last match at 132, Danbury’s Kyle Fields posted a 7-1 decision over Tom Nichols for the title.
In the third place showdown at 145, Eastern’s Alexander Marshall defeated Brookfield’s Zahir Mclean-Felix by a slick 1-0 decision.
And in the 152 pound championship, it was Justin Marshall time.
Marshall pinned New Canaan’s Nate Sibbett in 2:49 to seize the championship.
The third place showcase at 160 pounds saw Eastern’s Noah Piazza pin Newtown’s Steven Leuci in 2:55; while Joseph Morelli (170) pinned New Canaan’s Matthew Benevento for third place in 1:35.
The Lancers’ Dylan Garcia (182) needed just 52 seconds to pin Vincenzo Bunce of East Haven for third place; and Eastern’s Trinidad Gonzalez was the champion at 220 pounds, pinning Staples’ George Harrington with 14 seconds to spare (5:46).
The third place heavyweight match saw Newtown’s Joe Zeller just defeat Eastern’s Nick St. Peter via a 3-2 decision.
Finally, in the unofficial, official weight class of 99 pounds, it was Eastern’s Eric Dupee needing just 30 seconds to pin Reese Watkins of Staples for first place.
And then, in what could be a Class L championship preview, Middletown – ranked No. 9 in the first Connecticut Wrestling Online’s Top 10 high school wrestling poll – fell to the Lancers 37-34 from the Keigwin School in Middletown.
Eastern moved to a perfect 9-0 overall in the winning effort while the Blue Dragons fell to 8-2.
The Lancers are 2-0 in the CCC South with wins over Middletown and Plainville (82-0) this season.
And if Eastern wants to become a three-time Class L champ, that was the kind of meet the program from Bristol will have to continue to win.
It was close but Eastern took home wins in eight bouts, just keeping pace over an excellent Middletown aggression.
Eastern’s Trent Thompson was a pin-fall winner at 106 pounds, beating Ryan Quinn in 2:18; while at 120, Riley McCarthy earned a 14-1 major decision win against Josue Bobe.
Tom Nichols (132) pinned Alexander Price to pick up the win; while Justin Marshall’s pin-fall victory at 152 over Michael Galloway was another big deal.
Noah Piazza (160) pinned Middletown’s Ryan Conklin in just under four minutes; while Dylan Garcia (182) took a 7-4 decision over Jake Bowen (Middletown).
And then Trinidad Gonzalez (220) pinned the Blue Dragons’ Erik Dubon in 1:59 to pace another victorious effort by the Lancers.