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Windham turns it around to win another Class S state title

Wrestlers from Windham High celebrate after winning the Class S championship for the fifth time in the last six seasons.

WINDHAM, Feb. 17 – A week ago, the Windham High wrestling team was seventh at the Eastern Connecticut Conference’s annual post-season tournament. It was a different squad that competed at the Class S championships in the Whippets’ own facility.

Windham had eight wrestlers win medals for finishing in the top six, one individual champion, three finalists and five wrestlers taking third as the Whippets won the Class S state championship for the fifth time in six years and for the 14th time in school history.

Windham was too much for Gilbert School-Winsted, which finished second for the second time in team history and for the first time since 1996. Windham finished with 190 pounds while Gilbert was second with 155½ points. Haddam-Killingworth was third with 149 pounds followed by Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech (143) and Montville (131).

The Yellowjackets also had eight medalists and three finalists. Gilbert went home with one champion, two silver medalists, one wrestler who took fourth and two each in fifth and sixth place.

“It’s unbelievable,” Gilbert coach Darek Schibi said. “We put in a lot of work this year. It’s a whole team effort. It started with going to (Orlando) Florida (in December) to see what we could do. We brought home a third place trophy and everyone started to believe. The more we wrestled, the better we got.”

Gilbert assistant wrestling coach Chris Marks leaps in celebration, left, after Andrey Zhovkly won a Class S championship at 195 pounds. Head coach Darek Schibi is on the right.

Windham’s lone state championship came from Alejandro Garcia, who won his third straight Class S championship at 113 pounds. A week ago, he missed weight and couldn’t wrestle at the ECC Tournament.

“It put a big cloud over us and it put us in a negative frame of mind so we didn’t perform (on the first day of the ECC Tournament) like we could,” Windham coach Patrick Risley said. With Garcia, the Whippets probably wouldn’t have won the tournament but they would have finished much higher.

It was a different story this weekend. “The kids came to wrestle this weekend,” Risley said.

Elijah Vertefeuille (106) and Sebastein Stultz (126) finished second while Kevin Fantoli (120) Luis Rodriguez (132), Daniel Castro (138), Marcos Rodriguez-Rivera (145) and Jaden Malave (285) each finished third. Fantoli and Castro each won in overtime to finish third while Malave earned a 1-0 decision.

No. 9 Montville had hoped to contend for the championship but they were hampered by the fact that No. 1 seed Sam Kury (152) couldn’t wrestle due to a shoulder injury. The Indians still had two individual champions – including Noah Caskey (132), who was named outstanding wrestler, and Yale-bound Nick Tibbetts (220) — and four medalists but it wasn’t enough. Caskey won his third Class S title.

There were a few fantastic finishes in the finals. Ledyard’s Richard Mullaney (285) kept wrestling right to the final whistle got a two-point takedown at the buzzer to beat Morgan’s Austin Daley to win a state title with a 5-3 victory. Mullaney had escaped with 23 seconds left in regulation to tie the match at 3-3.

At 138, Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech’s Jared Swett scored four points in the last 18 seconds to beat Matthew Jenkins of Haddam-Killingworth, 6-4. Trailing by two, Swett got a reversal with 18 seconds left to tie the bout at 4-4 and he turned Jenkins to his back with two seconds left for the win.

Northwestern’s Angelo Folino controls Gilbert’s Devin Matthews in the finals at 120 pounds at the Class S championship meet.

Granby came home with more champions than any other school in the tournament.

Junior Ben Kibby (31-1) won his second straight Class S championship with a 7-0 shutout win over Montville’s Dane Concasia at 182 pounds. Senior Cooper Fleming (152) remained undefeated with a 14-2 victory over Suffield’s John Nieroda to win his second state title in three years.

And sophomore Hunter Fleming won his first state championship with a hard-fought 5-2 win over Windham’s top-seeded Sebastien Stultz at 126 pounds.

They helped Granby finish seventh in Class S with 120 pounds – the fourth straight top 10 finish for the Bears and the best finish since taking seventh in 2015. “They wrestled great (Friday) and they wrestled great (Saturday),” Granby coach Nick Watson said. “Honestly, I didn’t have any doubts about any of them. I had confidence all the way. I thought all three would do it.”

BRACKETS: 2018 Class S championships

2018 Class S championships
At Windham
Team results — 1. Windham 190; 2. Gilbert 155½; 3. Haddam-Killingworth 149; 4. Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech 143; 5. Montville 131; 6. Morgan 130½; 7. Granby 120; 8. Northwestern 108½; 9. Griswold 98½; 10. Ledyard 93; 11. Nonnewaug 90; 12. Suffield 79½; 13. East Catholic 57; 14. Canton 56; 15. Derby 54½; 16. Rocky Hill 52; 17. Plainville 50; 18. Somers 47; 19. Portland 37½; 20. Notre Dame-Fairfield 33½; 21. Coventry 29; 21. Terryville 29; 23. Oxford 28; 24. Stafford 27½; 25. Immaculate 20; 26. Goodwin Tech 15; 26. Thomaston/Litchfield/Holy Cross 15; 26. Valley Regional 15; 29. Windsor Locks 14; 30. East Windsor 12½; 31. Stonington 7; 32. Career 6; 33. St. Paul 5; 34. Cromwell 4; 35. SMSA 1
Individual results
106: Final — Jacob Marselli (East Catholic) dec. Elijah Vertefeuille (Windham), 6-3; 3. Josue Bobe (Portland) dec. Cameron Hines (Haddam-Killingworth), 10-4; 5. Matthew Webb (Canton) pin Tyler Arsenault (Griswold), 1:49
113: Final — Alejandro Garcia (Windham) dec. Louis Bradley (Morgan), 6-2; 3. Tristan Julian (Stafford) dec. Michael Dalessio (Somers), 12-1; 5. Thomas Verdiglione (Nonnewaug) pin Dominic Pedrolini (Plainville), 2:50
120: Final — Angelo Folino (Northwestern) dec. Devin Matthews (Gilbert), 7-4; 3. Kevin Fantoli (Windham) dec. Cayleb Leclerc (Terryville), 6-4, OT; 5. Javier Mercado (Portland) dec. Jayden Colon (Montville), 7-3
126: Final — Hunter Fleming (Granby Memorial) dec. Sebastien Stultz (Windham), 5-2; 3. Trevor Follo (Morgan) dec. Cole Dirico (Ledyard), 7-2; 5. Malakai Maher (Haddam-Killingworth) forfeit over Sebastian Soli (Plainville)
132: Final — Noah Caskey (Montville) tech fall Anthony Cimino (Morgan), 16-1, 4:25; 3. Luis Rodriguez (Windham) dec. Kacper Proczek (Coventry), 7-1; 5. Vashil Patel (Griswold) dec. Brian Connolly (Canton), 7-6
138: Final — Jared Swett (Lym Mem/Wind Tch) dec. Matthew Jenkins (Haddam-Killingworth), 6-4; 3. Daniel Castro (Windham) dec. Zachary McLellan (Gilbert), 4-2, OT; 5. Gabriel Ortiz (Immaculate) pin Noah Vail (East Catholic), 3:37
145: Final — Hunter Adams (Suffield) dec. Jason Jacaruso (Griswold), 4-0; 3. Marcos Rodriguez Rivera (Windham) dec. Dennis Charles (Ledyard), 9-4; 5. Connor Blay (Gilbert) forfeit over Jake Frith (Haddam-Killingworth)
152: Final — Cooper Fleming (Granby Memorial) dec. John Nieroda (Suffield), 14-2; 3. Andrew Fortuna (Morgan) MD Ryan Powers (Lym Mem/Wind Tch), 10-2; 5. Benjamin Mow (Gilbert) forfeit over James Guion (Northwestern)
160: Final — Jeffrey Suschana (Somers) dec. Joshua Schwartz (Northwestern), 5-1; 3. Jack Cronin (Nonnewaug) pin Justin Popp (Haddam-Killingworth), 1:22; 5. Tavon Simpson (Notre Dame-Fairfield) dec. Kyle Matthews (Gilbert), 5-1
170: Final — Mason Laflam (Lym Mem/Wind Tch) pin Alex Smith (Gilbert), 3:13; 3. Flori Cenkolli (Nonnewaug) dec. Liam Smith (Northwestern), 5-3; 5. Tyler Perez (Granby Memorial) dec. Xavier Gonzalez (Windsor Locks), 4-2
182: Final — Benjamin Kibby (Granby Memorial) dec. Dane Concascia (Montville), 7-0; 3. Steve Grudzien (Nonnewaug) pin Caleb Boucher (Northwestern), 2:50; 5. Prosper john Vignone (Coventry) dec. Kevin Sullivan (Gilbert), 4-3
195: Final — Andrey Zhovkly (Gilbert) pin Johnny Falco (Griswold), 1:50; 3. Joseph Reihl (Lym Mem/Wind Tch) pin Braydon Fluckiger (Canton), 4:12; 5. Jadian Mackenzie (Ledyard) dec. Eduardo Morales (Goodwin Tech), 5-4, 3 OT
220: Final — Nick Tibbetts (Montville) dec. Matthew Oliwa (Derby), 7-4; 3. Dan Geriak (Notre Dame-Fairfield) dec. Trevor Hines (Haddam-Killingworth), 3-0; 5. Thomas Dimatteo (Rocky Hill) pin Ben Falivene (Valley Regional), 1:53
285: Final — Richard Mullaney (Ledyard) dec. Austin Daley (Morgan), 5-3; 3. Jaden Malave (Windham) dec. Michael O’Connell (Lym Mem/Wind Tch), 1-0; 5. Aiden Maher (Haddam-Killingworth) pin Anthony Slowik (Derby), 4:10
Outstanding wrestler: Noah Caskey (132), Montville
BRACKETS: 2018 Class S championships

Norwich Bulletin, Feb. 18: Windham captures another Class S title

New London Day, Feb. 18: Fantastic finishes for Windham and Mullaney

Collinsville Press, Feb. 18: Three Granby wrestlers win state titles

Waterbury Republican American, Feb. 18: Folino, Zhovkly win Class S titles

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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