LOWELL, Mass., March 1, 2008 – Two state wrestlers brought home New England championships on Saturday night. Ledyard’s Julian Hightower (189) won a New England championship with a 5-4 win in OT over Massachusetts champion Mike Leavitt of Central Catholic while Hand’s Derek Fish (145) outlasted Maine’s Jon Smith of Dirigo, 6-3.
Five other Connecticut wrestlers made the finals but lost. Griswold’s Tyler Banks (130) and Brock Coutu (135) each fell in the championship match along with Danbury’s Charlie Constanzo (119), Westhill’s Ron Thompson (160) and Middletown’s Richard Perry (215).
Griswold was the top Connecticut team in the tournament in sixth place with Ledyard in 11th place. Timberlane, N.H. won the team championship for the second time in three years with a win over Mt. Anthony, Vt.
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It wasn’t easy for Hightower in the tournament with close, tight bouts in three of his four matches. He outlasted Tom Fraser of Walpole, Mass., 4-0 in the semifinals and went into double OT to beat Leavitt in the championship match, 5-4.
Leavitt had a 4-3 lead in the final minute of the third period but Hightower escaped to tie the bout and force overtime. The two battled through a scoreless one-minute OT session. In the second OT, Hightower escaped to take a one-point lead. To win the title, he had to prevent Leavitt from scoring in the second 30-second session.
“He wrestled that overtime perfectly,” Ledyard coach Steve Bilheimer told the New London Day. “You always want to ride the hips and legs, not the upper body. The kid came up, he returned him. The kid came up, he returned him. Plus, he’s as strong as an ox.”
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Fish became the first Hand wrestler to win a New England championship since Jim Guzzio won a pair in 1991 and 1992. Fish outlasted Maine’s Jon Smith of Dirigo, 6-3.
Scoreless after one period, Fish got an early reversal to take a 2-0 lead. More comfortable on his feet, Fish didn’t panic when Smith escaped. Fish took him down for a 4-1 lead. After another escape, Smith tried for a headlock near the end of the second period but Fish was able to counter for a takedown and a 6-2 lead.
“I actually started to celebrate a little because I know how well Derek can manage a match especially when he is ahead,” Hand coach Dave D’Alessio said. Smith escaped early in the third period to cut the lead to three but that was as far as they could get.
“Derek had a great tournament,” D’Alessio said. “The only points scored against him the entire tournament were escape points. Derek feels most comfortable on his feet and we normally like to keep the action up there.”
“Jon was never able to get into his game,” Dirigio coach Doug Gilbert told the Maine Sun Journal. “He wasn’t able to get in on the legs because (Fish) wrestled defensively. It forced Jon to try and push the issue, and he ended up making mistakes that he hadn’t made all season long.” Smith (46-1) finished with a school-record 153 wins in his career.
Fish advanced to the finals with a 9-3 win over Vermont champion Travis Garrett in the semifinals, an 8-3 win over Rhode Island champion Ethan Farrell of Narragansett and a 5-1 win over Matt Donohoe of Tyngsboro, Mass.
Fish finished 32-1 on the year with a victory in the SCC Tournament, a second straight Class L championship, a State Open title and a New England championship. He finished with a career record of 147-24.
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Griswold’s Tyler Banks (130) lost for the first time this season with a 2-1 loss to Massachusetts champion John Sughrue of Methuen, who got a reversal with 40 seconds left and held on for the win. Sughrue improved to 57-0 and 204-5 in his career.
At 135, Griswold’s Brock Coutu (47-2) advanced to the finals with three pins in the first period. But he faced Massachusetts champion Tim Rich of Chelmsford, who avenged a December loss to Coutu by pinning him in 2:36.
Rich (49-1) didn’t forget Coutu’s one-point win in the Lancer Invitational in December and was ready for a battle. Rich took down Coutu in the first period and rode the legs for a pair of near falls to take a 7-0 lead after one period. Starting on top, Rich pinned Coutu 36 seconds into the second period.
“I was down a lot during that first match and he was strong.” Rich told the Boston Herald. “We decided to wrestle on top. I was able to get an early takedown and I stayed on him the whole way.”
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Danbury sophomore Charlie Costanzo (119) came close to handing three-time Massachusetts champion Kenny Anderson of Billerica his first loss of the season but Anderson (45-0) prevailed with a 6-5 decision. Anderson led 5-0 and was controlling the match before Costanzo hit a reversal and put Anderson to his back for a three-point near fall. But Anderson escaped to win.
“He shocked me. Definitely the strongest kid I faced all year,” Anderson told the Boston Globe.“But I knew I just had to keep my composure and focus, and I was able to come out on top.”
Last year, Anderson gave up a reversal with 16 seconds left in regulation to lose the 103 New England championship to Simon Kitzis of Newtown South. “When he got me down on my back, I started thinking about last year,” Anderson admitted to the Globe. “I just had to fight hard to get back up.
“Charlie wrestled great all day,” Danbury coach Ricky Shook told the Danbury News Times.“Even in the final where he lost he wrestled really well.” Costanzo finished the year with a 39-7 record, including 14 wins in 15 bouts the past four weeks.
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Sophomore Kote Aldus of Belfast, Maine wrestled out of the preliminary round to win the championship at 160 pounds. Aldus got a last-second escape to beat Southington’s Trevor Ritchie in the semifinals, 5-4 and earn a spot in the final. Aldus also beat Massachusetts champion Travis Moran of Natick by pin and New Hampshire champion Evan Carter of Alvirne, 13-7
Aldus shutout Westhill’s Ron Thompson, 6-0 to win the championship. The match was scoreless heading into the third period. “He held me down through two periods, which has never happened,” Thompson told the Stamford Advocate. “That made it more difficult.” Aldus escaped for a 1-0 lead early in the third period.
With 35 seconds remaining, Aldus still led 1-0 but it left Thompson in the position where he had to initiate the action and take risks. “I was just taking stupid shots and getting into bad positions,” Thompson told the Advocate. “It was very disappointing.”
Westhill coach Paul Katz said, ”It was a big tournament and he seemed like he had nothing left. It’s so hard. You can just have a bad 10 seconds in a match like that and it costs you.”
But Katz was still impressed with Thompson’s performance this season. “The fact that he was able to do what he did this whole season and get to the championship of the finals of New England is fantastic,” Katz told the Advocate.“The kid came out of nowhere. A lot of coaches from New England told me how impressed they were with the way he wrestled.”
Thompson finished 44-2 with a career record of 133-16.
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Bridgewater-Raynham senior Brett Wyman defeated Richard Perry of Middletown, Conn., 4-2, in the 215-pound final. Wyman, who will play football at Brown, pinned his way into the championship round, requiring less than seven minutes to earn the three pins.
Wyman took a 2-0 lead with a first period takedown before Perry cut the lead to one when Wyman was penalized a point for locking hands. In the second period, Wyman was able to escape from Perry to stretch the lead to 3-1 and he controlled most of the third period to earn the championship.
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Robert Hamlin (171) of Mt. Mansfield, Vt. and Trevor Dearden (125) of Salem, N.H. each won their third straight New England title and became members of the New England Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Dearden (48-2), who was named the outstanding wrestler in the tournament, pinned Anthony Medina of Springfield Putnam in 1:09 to win the championship – the fastest pin of the day. His closest bout came in a 7-4 win over Rhode Island champion Shawn Giblin of Cranston West in the semifinals. Dearden also beat Danbury’s George Madkour in the first round, 7-1. It was the third year in a row he has won the title by pin
Hamlin won his third straight New England title with a 5-4 decision over Josh Eon of Massabesic, Maine.
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With the championship, Timberlane tied Mt. Anthony for the most New England titles. Each team has won six. “I’m just extremely proud of this group,” Timberlane coach Barry Chooljian told The Eagle Tribune. “If anyone told me at the beginning of the season that we’d go undefeated (19-0-1) and win New England, I wouldn’t believe it. But this group really came together and got much better during the season. Brian (Nicoll) winning (a 5-2 decision over Nate Lavallee of Cape Elizabeth, Maine) in the last match just makes it sweeter.”
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Defending champion Lowell High has four qualifiers but Greater Lawrence, Timberlane, N.H., and Mt. Anthony, Vt., look also to contend at the New England wrestling championships. The Patriots won a national record 20th straight state championship and have 11 wrestlers in the tournament, including two medalists from a year ago, Jacob Shortt (119) and Scott Legacy II (130). Danbury and Ledyard each have four wrestlers qualified to wrestle.
Reports from the New London Day, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Stamford Advocate, Danbury News Times, Maine Sun Journal and Eagle Tribune used to compile this story.
Notes from day 2
Stamford’s Mike Battinelli (119) wrestled against four different state champions and won twice times, beating New Hampshire’s Brandon Paige of Concord by pin (4:16), Rhode Island’s Jesse Penney of Toll Gate, 6-3. He also beat Maine’s top-ranked wrestler Sam Blue of Mt. Blue, 2-1. Vermont champion Scott Legacy beat Battinelli, 4-0 for third place. Eventual champion John Sughrue of Methuen, Mass., also beat Battinelli, 11-0. “Mike wrestled incredibly well,” Stamford coach Tim Donnelly told the Stamford Advocate. “To go against that kind of competition and win a couple of them, that’s unbelievable.” Battinelli finished at 44-9 with 18 pins and with a career mark of 169-25 with 70 pins.
Stamford’s Eriary Pierre-Saint(145) beat Massachusetts champion Jim Tarpley of Tewksbury, 2-1 in the quarterfinals and Vermont champion Travis Garrett of Mt. Mansfield, 4-0 in the consolation semifinals. Pierre-Saint (49-5, 21 pins) finished fourth after a 2-1 overtime loss to Jacob Berry of Camden Hills in Maine.
New Milford’s Cody Griswold(171) hurt his ankle in a loss to Maine’s top-ranked wrestler Josh Eon of Massabesic in the semifinals (pin 4:14) and couldn’t participate in his final two consolation round bouts to finish sixth.
After losing his first match of his high school career in the quarterfinals Friday, Woodstock Academy freshman R.J. LaBeef(103) won three straight tight matches to earn a spot in the consolation finals. LaBeef beat Matt Buco of Greater Lawrence (Mass.), 7-5, nipped Corey Melo of New Bedford, Mass., 5-3 and pinned Charlie Grasia of Foxboro, Mass., in overtime. But he lost to Chad Roberts of East Longmeadow, Mass., for the second time in a 12-0 loss. LaBeef (46-2) only faced Massachusetts wrestlers in the tournament.
The win by Cheshire’s Mike Briskin (112) over New Hampshire state champion Matt Morris of Timberlane, 14-10 in the consolation round, was the first Cheshire win ever in the New England Tournament. …. After losing in the quarterfinals, Ridgefield’s Alex Blank won three in a row in the consolation bracket to earn a spot in the consolation final where he lost to Rhode Island champion Shawn Giblin of Cranston West for the second time, 9-1. He was pinned in 1:51 in the quarterfinals. … Danbury’s Dean Smith (152) was caught in a head lock to lose his first bout of the season to Tim Sheehan of Chelmsford, Mass. But Smith’s tournament came to an end when Sheehan, the No. 6 seed in Massachusetts, lost his next match. … A 4-3 loss to George Hargrove of Springfield Central bounced Somers’ Tim Vollaro(171) from the tournament in the first round when Hargrove lost his next match 5-2. …
2008 New England Championships
Team results – 1. Timberlane NH 73, 2. Mt. Anthony 64½, 3. Belfast ME 48½, 4. Lowell, MA 48, 5. Chelmsford, MA 45½, 6. Griswold CT 44½, 7. Bridgewater Raynham MA 42, 8. Massabesic ME 38, 9. Greater Lawrence MA 37, 10. Mt. Mansfield VT 32, 11. Ledyard 31, 12. Methuen MA 30, 13. Ludlow MA 29½, 14. Salem NH 27, 15. Tewskbury MA 26
Other Connecticut teams:
19. Middletown 23, 20 (tie) Hand, Stamford 22, 30 (tie) Danbury 19, 32. Westhill 32, 38. Bristol Central 15, 45 (tie) Southington 14, 48. Ridgefield 13½, 49 (tie) Weaver, Amity 13, 52 (tie) New Milford, Woodstock Academy 12, 55 (tie) Bethel 11, 59 (tie) New Fairfield, Platt High 9, 71 (tie) East Lyme 4½, 73 (tie) Windham High 4, 82 (tie) Farmington, Rocky HIll 2
Full brackets, each weight class
Final: Carlin Dubay (Caribou ME) dec. Cam Sullivan (Timberlane), 12-6; 3. Chad Roberts (East Longmeadow MA) dec. R.J. LaBeef (Woodstock Academy), 12-0; 5. Sam Shames (Newtown North) dec. Charlie Grasia (Foxboro MA), 4-2
Final: Brandon Gauthier (Lowell MA) dec. Mike Meyers (Warwick RI), 7-3; 3. Miguel Guzman (Greater Lawrence MA) dec. Jordan Gray (Essex VT), 5-3; 5. Matt Delgallo (Gardiner ME) pin West Johnson (Platt High), 4:40
Final: Kenny Anderson (Billerica MA) dec. Charlie Costanzo (Danbury), 6-5; 3. Jacob Shortt (Mt. Anthony VT) dec. Chris Smith (Deering ME), 12-3; 5. Franschesco Ortiz (Greater Lawrence MA) dec. Alex Smith (Timberlane NH), 2-1
Final: Trevor Dearden (Salem NH) pin Anthony Medina (Putnam MA), 1:35; 3. Shawn Giblin (Cranston West RI) dec. Alexander Blank (Ridgefield), 9-1; 5. James Herlihy (Pinkerton NH) dec. Jim Connolly (North Andover MA), 8-6
Final: John Sughrue (Methuen MA) dec. Tyler Banks (Griswold), 2-1; 3. Scott Legacy (Mt. Anthony VT) dec. Mike Batinelli (Stamford), 4-0; 5. Jesse Penney (Toll Gate RI) pin Mike Frick (New Fairfield), 1:43
Final: Tim Rich (Chelmsford, MA) pin Brock Coutu (Griswold), 2:36; 3. Kevin Barruci (Burlington, MA) dec. Jeff McKinnon (Lincoln-Sudbury MA), 8-4; 5. Peadlair Flood (Scituate, MA) pin Cinjin Goeway (Maine Central Institute, ME), 2:39
Final: Evan Connors (Lowell, MA) dec. Jacob Matthews (Middletown RI ), 5-1; 3. Matt Parisi (Mt. Anthony, VT) dec. Joe Eon (Massabesic, ME), 4-2; 5. Mike Vernik (Amity) forfeit over Derek Golner (Tyngsboro, MA)
Final: Derek Fish (Hand) dec. Jon Smith (Dirigo, ME), 6-3; 3. Jacob Berry (Camden Hills, ME) dec. Erialy Pierre-Saint (Stamford, CT), 2-1 OT; 5. Jarad Smith (Timberlane, NH) dec. Travis Garrett (Mt. Mansfield, VT), 7-6
Final: Ronnie Tetrault (Ludlow, MA) pin Seth Carter (Alvirne, NH), 1:42; 3. Cody Byrd (Londonderry, NH) dec. Mike Willey (Tewksbury, MA), 3-2 OT; 5. Andrew Ford (Bethel) dec. Chris Delarosa (Gr. Lawrence, MA), 14-12
Final: Kote Aldus (Belfast, ME) dec. Ron Thompson (Westhill, CT), 6-0; 3. Travis Moran (Natick, MA) dec. Trevor Ritchie (Southington, CT), 11-2; 5. Lewis Bailey (Chelmsford, MA) dec. Nick Kidd (Barnstable, MA), 3-0
Final: Robert Hamlin (Mt. Mansfield, VT) dec. Josh Eon (Massabesic, ME), 5-4; 3. George Hargrove (Springfield Central, MA) dec. Nick DiAntonio (Milford MA), 2-1; 5. Nick Colace (Franklin, MA) forfeit over Cody Griswold (New Milford)
Final: Julian Hightower (Ledyard, CT)dec.Mike Leavitt (Central Catholic, MA), 5-4, 2 OT; 3. Travis Spencer (Belfast, ME) dec. Connor McNamara (Winchester MA), 6-2; 5. Mike Grillakis (Nashua South, NH) forfeit over Tom Fraser (Walpole, MA)
Final: Brett Wyman (Bridgewater-Raynham, MA) dec. Richard Perry (Middletown CT), 4-1; 3. Jacob Gagnon (Manchester Memorial, NH) dec. Derek Lowe (Tewksbury, MA), 3-1; 5. Marshall Gleason (Concord, NH) dec. Raistlin Delisle (Kennebunk, ME), 6-3
Final: Brian Nicholl (Timberlane NH) dec. Nate Lavallee (Cape Elizabeth, ME), 5-2; 3. Rich Wapeni (Br-Raynham, MA) dec. Tim Chambers (Bristol Central, CT), 3-2, 2 OT; 5. Reshannon Stanley (Weaver) pin Mike Gregory (Greater Lowell MA), 1:54
Outstanding wrestler: Trevor Dearden, Salem NH
Best finals match: Hightower vs. Leavitt
Carlin Dubay (Caribou ME) vs. Chad Roberts (East Longmeadow MA); Cam Sullivan (Timberlane NH) vs. Charlie Grasia (Foxboro MA)
Miguel Guzman (Greater Lawrence MA) vs. Mike Meyers (Warwick RI); Brandon Gauthier (Lowell MA) vs. Matt Delagallo (Gardiner ME)
Charlie Costanzo (Danbury CT) vs. Franschesco Ortiz (Greater Lawrence MA); Kenny Anderson (Billerica MA) vs. Jacob Shortt (Mt. Anthony VT)
Shawn Giblin (Cranston West RI) vs. Trevor Dearden (Salem NH); Jim Connolly (North Andover MA) vs. Anthony Medina (Putnam MA)
Mike Frick (New Fairfield CT) vs. John Sughrue (Methuen MA); Tyler Banks (Griswold CT) vs. Jesse Penney (Toll Gate RI)
Tim Rich (Chelmsford MA) vs. Cinjin Goewey (Maine Central Institute ME); Brock Coutu (Griswold CT) vs. Kevin Barruci (Burlington MA)
Evan Connors (Lowell, MA) vs. Matt Parisi (Mt. Anthony VT); Jacob Matthews (Middletown RI) vs. Derek Golner (Tyngsboro MA)
Travis Garrett (Mt. Mansfield VT) vs. Derek Fish (Hand CT); Jarad Smith (Timberlane NH) vs. Jon Smith (Dirigo ME)
Chris Delarosa (Greater Lawrence MA) vs. Seth Carter (Alvirne NH); Ronnie Tetrault (Ludlow MA) vs. Andrew Ford (Bethel CT)
Trevor Ritchie (Southington CT) vs. Kote Aldus (Belfast ME); Nick Kidd (Barnstable MA) vs. Ron Thompson (Westhill CT)
Cody Griswold (New Milford CT) vs. Josh Eon (Massabesic ME); Robert Hamlin (Mt. Mansfield VT) vs. Nick DiAntonio (Milford MA)
Mike Leavitt (Central Catholic MA) vs. Travis Spencer (Belfast ME); Julian Hightower (Ledyard CT) vs. Tom Fraser (Walpole MA)
Raistlin Delisle (Kennebunk ME) vs. Richard Perry (Middletown CT); Marshall Gleason (Concord NH) vs. Brett Wyman (Bridgewater Rayhnam MA)
Mike Gregory (Greater Lowell MA) vs. Brian Nicoll (Timberlane NH); Rich Wapeni (Bridgewater Rayhnam MA) vs. Nate Lavallee (Cape Elizabeth ME)
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2008 Tournament brackets