By MICHAEL LETENDRE
Bristol Eastern wrestling squad, the second ranked team in the state of Connecticut, continued its dominance on Wednesday, Jan. 9 as the Lancers toppled Edwin O. Smith of Storrs 65-6 in a Central Connecticut Conference Interdivisional battle from the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium in Bristol.
The victory was Eastern’s 10th of the season (10-0) while Smith fell to 5-8 overall.
Eastern has now won a program record 45 straight matches, the longest such streak in the history Mum City scholastic wrestling.
Most of the usual suspects were in action for the Lancers that night but, in a display of its depth, a few grapplers were shuffled into the line-up and each responded well to the challenge.
The meet started at 160 pounds where Eastern’s Noah Piazza nearly scored a fall against Ben Holden with 1:03 left in the third period but ended the fray with a 5-2 win via decision.
And then at 170, Smith’s Ethan Grous nearly dropped his match to Eastern up-start Tyler Gleifert as the local grappler led 9-2 early in the second tilt.
But a late takedown by Grous led to a pin in 3:33 – the Panthers’ only win of the evening as the Lancers trailed 6-3.
Dylan Garcia (182) then won his match by forfeit – the first of five at the meet as Smith did not have a full complement of athletes for each weight class.
The returning Ethan Mathieu got a little mat time and battled Vivek Patel, who bumped up from 182 to his usual spot at 195 for the Panthers.
A takedown saw Mathieu apply a headlock on Patel and an eventual turn and pin gave the Eastern wrestler a pin-fall victory in 1:41.
“We’ve been waiting for him to come back,” said Eastern coach Bryant Lishness of Mathieu. “We’re hoping for a lot out of him this year. He’s a pretty solid wrestler. He’s never been to states but we know what we have. We just need to get him mat time. He’s been injured in his first match when he made weight and we haven’t had him back.”
“Tonight was a nice match for him to get rolling so we’re pleased.”
With a 15-6 lead in hand, Eastern scored 18 straight points on forfeit wins.
Trinidad Gonzalez (220), Nick St. Peter (285), and Trent Thompson (106) were all forfeit winners as Eastern led it 33-6.
Feisty Mason Lishness (113) took Avery Baran down to the mat in only 13 seconds, spun him around before hearing the referee slap the mat for the pin-fall win after just 70 seconds of work.
The final forfeit of the evening was at 120 where Riley McCarthy got his squad six more points as Eastern was cruising 45-6.
And with Carson Sassu out of action at 126, Andrew Lozier got his chance to shine on the varsity level and did not disappoint.
Lozier battled Dakota Blanchard and the Kingstreeter was just one near-fall away from scoring a technical fall decision.
He led 4-2 after one period and had a bit of a cross face on Blanchard by the completion of period two with Lozier ahead on the scoreboard 9-2.
Lozier never took his foot off the gas, kept the pressure on, and nearly got the pin late before settling on a 14-2 major decision victory.
“Sassu is a little banged up and one kid’s misfortune is another kid’s good fortune,” said Lishness of Lozier. “He’s a varsity talent, that’s for sure. He did well at the C.J. McCormick Tournament at the beginning of the year going up at 132. With Sassu out, it’s an opportunity. We’re pretty fortunate with a kid like that as a back-up.”
And then, in a tit-for-tat exhibition at 132, Eastern’s Tom Nichols (BE) and Quin Rogers battled for six straight minutes but both grapplers failed to score – forcing a winner-take-all overtime session.
With time running out in the extra frame, Nichols just got under Rogers for the takedown as he came away with a 2-0 win by decision.
“Tommy’s tough,” said Lishness of Nichols. “Quinn’s one of [E.O. Smith’s] best kids so we knew that was going to be a tight one. Tommy just wins. He wins a lot. He knows how to manage matches, and he’s wrestled at real high levels beyond high school in Fargo and at national events.”
“He’s comfortable and in control even in deep water like that.”
Eastern’s Treyvon Daniels (138) was simply too quick for Joseph Torza to get a hold of as the football speedster led 2-1 after one period and 5-2 through two but trailed 5-8 midway through the final frame.
But a late escape with 56 seconds remaining in regulation tied the event at 8-8 before a slick takedown at the 0:15 mark of the third period provided the winning tally with Daniels taking a 10-8 decision as the score in the showdown was 56-6 in Eastern’s favor.
The Lancers’ Alex Marshall (145) led 9-2 after two period of action against Colby Urban and held on to win his match via decision by the same score.
And to wrap it up, the Panthers’ Sean Bentley (152) battled defending Class L champion Justin Marshall.
The former Bristol Eastern quarterback took down Bentley in only eight seconds, cradled him into a near-fall before zipping up the pin in a mere 38 seconds of action.
Eastern simply took care of business and off to the next tournament, which meant a trip to Cumberland, R.I. over the past weekend.
“We’re definitely going to be tested,” said Lishness of the Cumberland Tournament. “Cumberland is one of the best teams in New England. Timberland is going to be there, one of the best in New England.”