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Four Nutmeg State wrestlers claim to New England titles, Danbury takes third

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass., March 5, 2005 — Danbury had hopes to winning its first New England Tournament championship since 1990. It didn’t happen but Hatter coach Ricky Shook still left a happy man. Senior Matt Tricarico (171) had four pins and became the first Danbury wrestler since 2001 to capture a New England championship.

“It’s been a good day,” Danbury coach Ricky Shook said. “I couldn’t be more happier. They’ve wrestled above their ability level. This is the tournament we strive for all year.”

Not only did the Hatters place three wrestlers in the final but they also set a new team record for most points scored in a tournament with 77. They had 69.5 a year ago. “We wrestled the best we could,” Shook said. “Timberlane just had too many horses.”

Timberlane won its fourth New England championship and its first since 2001 with six medallists, outlasting Mt. Anthony, Vt., 96-90. “We’ve been pretty solid all year,” Owl coach Barry Chooljian said. “We don’t have that sure winner so we knew we had to do it with balance and depth.”

Connecticut had 10 wrestlers in the finals and brought home four titles. South Windsor freshman Anthony Valles (103), Waterford’s Ken Fratus (112) and Simsbury’s Joey Martin (119) also brought home titles. Each finished undefeated — the first Connecticut wrestlers to achieve that since 1998.

Waterford had its best-ever finish in the tournament in fourth place and 56 points. “The kids have been wrestling real well,” Waterford coach Chris Gamble said. “They’ve been consistent and have been coming on.” Northwestern finished tied for eighth with 37 points.

Connecticut had 16 wrestlers in the semifinals and 10 wrestlers advanced to the finals – the most of any state. Massachusetts had eight wrestlers in the finals and crowned three champions. Connecticut’s four champions was the most for the state since four in 1998.

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A sterling freshman campaign for South Windsor’s Anthony Valles ended with a 12-0 victory over Andrew Kalil of Salem, N.H. in the final. Like he has all year, Valles (46-0) dominated with a pin, tech fall and a pair of major decisions. “It was definitely better competition but he wrestles as a higher level than most other kids,” South Windsor coach Jude Knapp said. “He just keeps going. It is what he is capable of. But he did have to work harder for his points this weekend.”

In the semifinals, Jeremiah Barkac of Dexter, Maine got a takedown in the first period but Valles ripped off 17 unanswered points to win by tech fall. Valles had 42 wins this year by either pin or tech fall.

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A year after winning a Class M championship and placing in the State Open as a freshman, Waterford’s Ken Fratus missed weight at the Class M tournament and watched all of the post-season action from the stands. “That helped him to focus this year,” Waterford coach Chris Gamble said. “That was really tough for him.”

Fratus (43-0) regained a bit of redemption with a championship, beating Timberlane’s Eric Morrill, 5-3. A near fall with two seconds left in the second period gave him a commanding lead. “Nothing can make up for it because I will never forget (last year) but now I can move on,” he said. “It’s like closure.”

Winning was sweet. “It’s the best feeling,” he said. “You just can’t put it into words.” Fratus’s closest battle came in the quarterfinals with a 6-4 decision over Dan Bloom of Sharon, Mass. Fratus rolled into the finals on the heels of a dominant 12-1 decision over Steve Goncalves of Cumberland, Rhode Island. Fratus became the first Waterford wrestler to win a New England championship.

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Simsbury’s Joey Martin had no problem being the villain because he took home his first New England championship with a 6-4 victory over defending New England champion Casey Boyle of nearby Lowell, Mass. The crowd booed Martin after the win but he celebrated with a back flip.

“I knew (Boyle) would work the edge of the mat, try to get a single (leg takedown) and expect me to stop wrestling but I didn’t stop,” said Martin (49-0). Twice Boyle had deep shots in on Martin but he never relented or stopped wrestling and eventually wiggled his way out of trouble.

Trailing by a point in the second period, Martin hit his first takedown with 30 seconds left for a 2-1 lead but was penalized a point at the buzzer for a dangerous move. He kept working a move a second after the buzzer sounded. Boyle intentionally let Martin escape to open the third period and the two stalked each other until Martin finally sank a takedown with 28.2 seconds left for a 5-2 lead. And the boos began after Martin pointed at the Lowell coach and said a word or two.

Boyle hit a desperation reversal with nine seconds left and immediately let Martin go but didn’t come close to a match-tying takedown. Martin beat a pair of defending New England champions. In the semifinals, he beat Peter Nolin of Dracut, Mass., 14-2.

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Bethel’s Nick Palmero and Ledyard’s T.J. Hepburn both lost one-point decisions in the quarterfinals. But both wrestlers won three bouts each in the consolation round to meet in the consolation final in a rematch of last week’s State Open final. For the second week in a row, Hepburn dominated with a 6-3 victory to take third place. At the Open, Hepburn beat Palmero, 7-1.

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Three Connecticut wrestlers finished among the top six in this weight class but none higher than third. Northwestern’s Joel Webster suffered his first loss of the season in the semifinals with 10-4 loss to eventual champion Mt. Anthony’s Robert LaBrake, Vermont’s first 200-win wrestler.

Leading 4-0 in the second period, LaBrake got a takedown and within seconds had a two-point near fall that gave him a commanding 8-0 lead. It was too much for Webster to come back from but he moved into the consolation final with a 4-2 win over Danbury’s Nick Weyer in a State Open final rematch.

Waterford’s Nick Nolda beat New Hampshire champion D.J. Meagher in the quarterfinals, 7-4 but fell to Chris Barkac of Dexter, Mass., 6-1 in the semifinals. Webster finished third with an 8-3 win over Nolda while Danbury’s Nick Weyer finished sixth.

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In December, Mt. Anthony’s T.J. Maroney beat Danbury’s Frank Cammisa by seven points in a dual meet. They met in the final and the difference was a lone first period takedown. Cammisa had the shot but Maroney successfully countered it to take a 2-0 lead. Each unsuccessfully tried to turn it each other in the remaining four minutes but no one could score.

Cammisa earned his spot in the finals with a 1-0 win over Corey Pelltier of Bridgewater Rayham [Mass.] 1-0 thanks to an escape with 28.3 seconds left in the second period. Cammisa had several opportunities to score near fall points in the third period but couldn’t quite get it done. “Frank is a tough guy to wrestle,” Shook said. “He’s very flexible and a little worm. I knew he had it in him. It was just a matter of getting it out of him.”

After falling 1-0 to Maroney in the quarterfinals, Enfield’s Sam Gauvine won three straight decisions in the consolation round but was beaten in the consolation final by Ben Sanchez of Leominister, Mass., 6-4.

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No Connecticut wrestlers placed in the top six. In fact, not a single Nutmeg wrestler advanced to the quarterfinal round.

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Jared Laganas of Dracut, Mass., built a 6-1 lead and held on for a 6-5 win over Danbury’s Jeff Marra (43-4). Down by four with 43 seconds left, Marra escaped and hit a takedown with 35 seconds to go but he couldn’t turn Laganas to tie up the bout.

In the semifinals, Danbury’s Jeff Marra outlasted Massachusetts champion Mike Foss of Longmeadow, 6-0. In both the second and third period, Marra had an escape and takedown. Shook said Marra has been itching to wrestle since dropping a 6-5, double OT decision to Windham’s Kurtis Strout in the State Open finals. “That fueled the fire this week,” Shook said.

Strout fell in the semifinals to Laganas, 7-2 but rebounded with a tight 4-3 decision over Lowell’s Jim Dillon to earn a spot in the consolation final. But Mike Foss of Longmeadow, Mass., beat Strout, 3-1 in overtime to take third.

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After winning the State Open, Northwestern Regional’s Chris Marks admitted that the Open was his ultimate goal and never gave too much thought to the New England Tournament. But he wrestled with courage to earn a spot in the finals.

Marks used a takedown and near fall to take a 7-5 lead with 1:02 left in the bout but Nick Kelly of Middleboro, Mass., rallied with a reversal with 28 seconds left to tie the bout at 7-7. But Marks got a reversal with 8.4 seconds left to earn the victory. “He wrestles all six minutes,” Northwestern coach Darek Schibi said. “That is what it takes to win a match at this level. Keep it close in the first and second period and win it in the third.”

But in the finals, hesitation in a match with Lowell’s Brian Sheehan cost him in a 10-6 loss in the final. Three times, Sheehan was driving for takedowns near the edge of the circle and Marks relaxed for a second and he trailed 6-2 after one period. Marks (37-1) cut the lead to two in the second period, 7-5, but another takedown at the edge of the mat by Sheehan with 1:03 clinched the match.

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Massachusetts champion C.J. Colace of Franklin, Mass., came into his finals bout with Windham’s Bran Crudden (44-1) with a reputation for pinning. Colace had pinned 46 wrestlers in a row before winning by technical fall over New Milford’s Ryan Quinn in the quarterfinals, 21-4.

But in the final, Colace (49-0) used three near falls to earn a 12-6 win over Crudden. His biggest victory came in a 5-2 victory over Mt. Anthony’s Kainen Mattison in the quarterfinals. Crudden dominated Andrew Dawkins of Exeter, N.H. with a 13-5 semifinal victory.

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Danbury’s Matt Tricarico came into the tournament a battered wrestler. His back locked up during the week and he didn’t practice during the second half of the week. In a quarterfinal win over LaSalle (R.I.)’s Kyle Regnault, Tricarico hurt his shoulder.

But in the semifinals, North Andover’s Chris Honeycutt put Tricarico on his back. But Tricarico bridged on his neck and quickly rolled Honeycutt to his back. Within seconds, Tricarico had his third win by pin in the tournament. “It’s all heart,” Shook said. “He is gutting it out.”

Tricarico didn’t feel any pain after pinning Natick’s Jim Hamel in 1:25 to win the title. Tricarico (43-2) won all four bouts by pin. “I worked my whole career for this,” he said and then stopped and smiled. “I’m speechless.”

Hamel slipped past Hartford Public’s Luis Gomes in the semifinals, 6-5. Gomes intentionally let Hamel away with 1:14 left and but then couldn’t get the winning takedown. Gomes eventually finished sixth.

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Darien’s Billy Haire lost in the semifinals but moved into the consolation finals with a win over Ray Moore of King Philip, Mass., by pin in 3:55. Haire finished fourth after losing to Kyle Ayer of St. John’s Prep, 11-4.

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He came to win but deferred thinking of his future. Waterford’s Shawn Karasevicz was never beaten on the mat this year but a injured knee finally took him down. Karasevicz (44-1) didn’t wrestle in the New England final after tearing a menicus in his knee Friday in the quarterfinals. He didn’t want to further damage the knee because he wants to attend the Coast Guard Academy.

“It’s probably one of the most frustrating and disappointing moments of my wrestling career,” he said. He first hurt his knee in a thrilling 11-10 quarterfinal victory over Chris Byrne of Tewksbury, Mass., on Friday night. Karasevicz hit a takedown with three seconds left in regulation to secure the victory.

In the semifinals, he hurt it again with 1:36 left in his semifinal bout with Josh Pelletier of Foxcroft Academy in Maine. Karasevicz led 2-0 in the third period and Pelletier let him up intentionally and Karasevicz hobbled around the mat, barely able to stand. But the senior didn’t buckle to the pain and got a match-clinching takedown with 17 seconds left to earn his first berth in a New England final.

“He is an ultimate competitor,” Waterford coach Chris Gamble said. “He came here with a goal. He won the quarterfinal basically wrestling on one leg.” Hartford Public’s Ryan Sanford won five bouts in the consolation bracket, including a 1-0 win over Pelletier in the consolation semifinals, to finish third. He was 6-1 in the tournament.

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It was an inopportune time to give up his first takedowns of the year. But Fairfield Warde’s Brendan Herlihy (40-1) gave up a pair of takedowns in a 5-2 loss to Todd Calley of Concord, N.H. in the finals. Halley tripped Herlihy for a first period takedown to take a 2-0 lead. Herlihy cut Calley’s lead to 3-2 in the third period with an escape but couldn’t get enough penetration to get a takedown on Calley.

But trailing by one, he had to try. Calley tied him up for 15 seconds on one shot and finally wore down Herlihy and took him down with 10 seconds left for a title-clinching takedown.

“If I take a shot, I make it count,” said Herlihy, who weighs 235 and usually gives up 50 pounds to his opponents. “I don’t want to get caught underneath them. That’s why I can be a bit conservative. I use my speed and so far it has worked.” Next year, Herlihy will be wrestling at Penn State on a scholarship, again in the heavyweight division.

2005 New England Tournament
At North Andover, Mass.
Team results – 1. Timberlane, NH 99, 2. Mt. Anthony, Vt., 90, 3. Danbury 77, 4. Waterford 56, 5. Lowell, Mass., 55, 6. Salem, N.H. and Central Catholic, Mass., 40; 8. Northwestern Regional 37, 9. Franklin, Mass., 36.5, 10. Dracut, Mass., 36, 11. Windham High 33.5, 12. Plymouth, N.H., and LaSalle, R.I. 33, 14. Dexter, ME 31.5, 15. Cumberland, RI 30; 16. North Andover, Mass., 28. 17. South Windsor 27.5, 18. Simsbury 26.5, 19. Concord, NH 26, 20. Colchester, Vt., 25
21. Randolph, Vt. 24, 22. Longmeadow, Mass., 23, 23. Ledyard, 22.5, 24. Fairfield Warde 22, 25. Bow, NH 21.5, 26. Cranston West RI, Natick, Mass., Hartford Public 21; 29. Bishop Hendricken RI, Bridgewater-Raynham, Mass., and Winchester, Mass., 18; 32. Leominister, Mass. and Darien 16; 34. Methuen, Mass., Foxboro, Mass., Middletown, RI and St. John’s Prep, Mass., 15; 38. Enfield, New Milford, Tewksbury, Mass. and Trumbull 14
Other Connecticut scores
43. Bethel 13, 48. Fairfield Prep 11, 63. Foran-Milford 4, 66. Bristol Central and New Fairfield 3; 74. Xavier and Cheney Tech 2; 79. East Haven 1.
Individual results
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Championship – Andrew Valles, South Windsor dec. Andrew Kalil, Salem, NH, 12-0; 3. John Sughrue, Methuen, Mass. dec. Derrick King, Cranston West RI, 9-2; 5. Jeremiah Barkac, Dexter, ME dec. Dave DeLuca, Longmeadow, Mass., 4-1
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Championship – Ken Fratus, Waterford dec. Eric Morrill, Timberlane, NH, 5-3; 3. Trevor Dearden, Salem, NH pin Steve Goncalves, Cumberland, RI, 1:13; 5. Nick Capello, Burlington, Mass., dec. Kyle Bonin, Belfast, ME, 12-4
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Championship – Joey Martin, Simsbury dec. Casey Boyle, Lowell, Mass., 6-4; 3. Travis St. Hillare, Colchester, Vt., dec. Justin Glerum, Hollis Brookline, NH, 4-3; 5. Rob Flinn, Timberlane, NH win by injury default over Peter Nolin, Dracut, Mass.
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Championship —  Corey Green, Mt. Anthony, Vt., dec. Devin Hennessey, Bridgewater-Raynham, Mass., 8-6, OT; 3. T.J. Hepburn, Ledyard dec. Nick Palmero, Bethel, 6-3; 5. John Hussey, Marshwood, ME win by injury default over Eduardo Hopp, Central, RI
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Championship – Robert LaBrake, Mt. Anthony, Vt., dec. Chris Barkac, Dexter, ME, 19-7; 3. Joel Webster, Northwestern Regional dec. Zeth Nolda, Waterford, 8-3; 5. Andrew Hawley, Gateway, Mass. dec. Nick Weyer, Danbury, 10-9
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Championship – T.J. Maroney, Mt. Anthony, Vt., dec. Frank Cammisa, Danbury, 2-0; 3. Ben Sanchez, Leominister, Mass., dec. Sam Gauvine, Enfield, 6-4; 5. Devon Hanson, Timberlane, NH dec. Cory Pellitier, Bishop Hendricken, RI, 10-4
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Championship —  Paul Lambert, Randolph, Vt., dec. Travis Tremblay, Winchester, Mass., 4-2; 3. Bob Murray, Central Catholic, Mass. dec. David Stowik, Cumberland, RI, 10-5; 5. Larry Coughlin, North Andover, Mass.dec. Kyle Bombardier, Colchester, VT, 13-3
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Championship – Jared Laganas, Dracut, Mass., dec. Jeff Marra, Danbury, 6-5; 3. Mike Foss, Longmeadow, Mass. dec. Kurtis Strout, Windham, 3-1 OT; 5. Jim Dillon, Lowell dec. Mike Moran, St. Thomas Aquinas, NH, 3-2
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Championship – Brian Sheehan, Lowell dec. Chris Marks, Northwestern Regional, 10-6; 3. Donnie Connelly, Timberlane, NH win by injury default over Nick Avery, Foxcroft Academy; 5. Nick Kelly, Middleboro, Mass. dec. Bill Blanchette, Triton Regional, Mass., 3-2
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Championship – C.J. Colace, Franklin, Mass. dec. Bran Crudden, Windham, 12-6; 3. Mike Meagher, Bow, NH dec. Kainen Mattison, Mt. Anthony, Vt., 3-0; 5. Michael Biestek, Middletown, RI pin Andrew Dawkins, Exeter, NH
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Championship – Matt Tricarico, Danbury pin Jim Hamel, Natick, Mass., 1:25; 3. Chris Honeycutt, North Andover, Mass., dec. Kyle Regnault, LaSalle, RI, 8-7; 5. Derek Sickel, Timberlane, NH dec. Luis Gomes, Hartford Public, 8-0
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Championship – Shaun Fendone, Central Catholic pin Tim Brown, Timberlane, 1:39; 3. Kyle Ayer, St. John’s Prep, Mass., dec. Billy Haire, Darien, 11-4; 5. Ray Moore, King Phillip, Mass., dec. Chris Smith, Mt. Valley, ME
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Championship – Dan Pasquarella, Plymouth, N.H., win by injury default over Shawn Karasevicz, Waterford; 3. Ryan Sanford, Hartford Public dec. Chris Byrne, Tewksbury, Mass., 3-1; 5. Dave Bernstein, Fairfield Prep dec. Josh Pelletier, Foxcroft Academy, ME, 6-4 OT
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Championship —  Todd Calley, Concord, N.H. dec. Brendan Herlihy, Fairfield Warde, 5-2; 3. Thomas Ferrell, New Milford dec. Angel Montenez, Trumbull, 6-3 OT; 5. Stephen Mendozzi, LaSalle, RI win by injury default over David Smith, Mt. Valley ME
Outstanding wrestler: Matt Tricarico, Danbury (171)

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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