NEW HAVEN, Feb. 24 –Danbury had a pair of sophomores with State Open championships and had six wrestlers finish in the top six as the No. 1 ranked Hatters won their second straight State Open title Saturday and their fourth in the last six years. Bristol Eastern, Fairfield Warde and Killingly each finished tied for second with 95 pounds with Danbury far ahead with 145½ points.
Danbury’s Ryan Jack (120), Foran’s Ryan Luth (152) and Xavier’s Ryan Devivo (170) won their second consecutive State Open titles.
Tolland High senior Ryan Angers (138), who spent his career working out with South Windsor, won a State Open title and earned Outstanding Wrestler honors. The top five wrestlers in each weight class qualified for next weekend’s New England championships.
Before the finals began on Saturday evening, there was a moving ceremony in memory of Jim Day, Berlin High’s Hall of Fame wrestling coach, who died on Thursday night from complications from the flu. His team placed his wrestling sneakers in the middle of the mat, the ceremonial symbol for retirement from the sport. Dozens of former wrestlers, coaches and friends surrounded the mat.
“This was a tough tournament, as usual,” Danbury coach Ricky Schook said. “We placed more than half the guys were brought so that is pretty good. Every year, I get spoiled. I wanted at least one finalist and we got two.”
Sophomore Ryan Jack (120) won his second State Open championship with sophomore A.J. Kovacs (145) grabbed his first Open title. Gino Baratta (170) was third while Kyle Fields (132) was fourth. Ben LeBlanc (113) and Tyler Johnson (106) each finished sixth.
“The pressure is off now I guess,” Shook told Hearst Connecticut Media’s Ryan Lacey. “We got it done. We didn’t wrestle great, but our finalists and two champions wrestled well all weekend. (Senior) Gino Baratta wrestled well. We had a good year. Class LL and State Open champions, that’s what it’s all about.”
Jack (36-4) beat Westhill’s William Chase Parrott for the third straight week in a tournament final with a 6-2 victory. Jack prevailed in the FCIAC final, 4-3 and outlasted Parrott in the Class LL final, 13-3.
Kovacs (33-4) pinned Class M champion Killingly’s Zack Burgess in 3:52 to win the 145 pound championship.
Danbury’s All-American wrestler Jakob Camacho wasn’t available to wrestle. He got the flu and couldn’t compete in the Class LL tournament or qualify for the State Open. Out most of the year with an injury, he went 1-1 at the FCIAC tournament at 126 pounds. He will be attending North Carolina State next fall.
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With victories in the finals from Izaake Zuckerman (160) and Joe Gjinaj (195), Fairfield Warde finished in a three-way tie for second place with Bristol Eastern and Killingly – the first three-way tie in tournament history for second place. And Southington was just a half point behind in fifth place with 94½ points.
Killingly had two wrestlers in the finals but both were pinned. Bristol Eastern had one wrestler in the finals – Trinidad Gonzalez at 195 pounds. He dropped a 4-1 decision to Gjinaj in double overtime. And when Gonzalez fired his headgear off the mat in frustration, it cost the Lancers a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct and dropped them into the tie for second place.
Zuckerman (47-1) had a 3-0 lead in his match with Tolland’s Michael Angers. In the third period, Angers escaped to open the period and got a takedown with 53 seconds left to tie the bout at 3-3. But Zuckerman hustled to escape with 17 seconds left to earn a 4-3 victory.
“He’s been on a mission,” Warde coach Jason Shaughnessy said. “He’s worked hard to reach his goals.” A year ago, he wasn’t available to compete in the postseason. And this year, he went undefeated in the regular season (37-0) only to get pinned in the FCIAC final by Ridgefield’s Simon Peterson.
But Zuckerman has won eight straight bouts including a pin over Peterson in the Class LL finals a week ago.
Gjinaj was also on a mission. A year ago, he sat in the stands here at the State Open to watch two wrestlers had already beaten that season wrestle for the Open championship. “He was a little more focused this year,” Shaughnessy said. “He was ready to make up for last year.”
The match was tied 1-1 after regulation and through the first one-minute OT session. In the second OT, Gjinaj escaped with a second left in the first 30 second period to take a 2-1 lead. He added another two-point near fall in the second 30 second period for a 4-1 victory.
Warde’s Alex Steele (132) also finished third and qualified for next weekend’s New England championships.
Killingly had five medalists as they had their best-ever finish at the State Open. Zach Caffrey (182) and Zach Burgess (145) each finished second while Dan Charron (106) was third. Derek Turner (170) finished fourth with Mike Charron (120) taking sixth.
“It was a great tournament for our guys,” Killingly coach Rich Bowen told the Norwich Bulletin. “You look at the big picture. We’re a small school among the (Class) LL powerhouses. It’s kind of nice to represent the state. I’m happy, I know the kids are, and we’re going to savor this one for a long time. Hopefully, it bodes well for us because we have a few kids coming back who have gone through it.”
After the match, Killingly and Fairfield Warde took turns taking celebratory photos with the runnerup trophy. All three schools will receive a trophy shortly from the CIAC. It’s the first time that the three schools have finished this high at the State Open.
Windham and South Windsor did finish tied for second in 2013.
Wilton’s Travis Longo became the first Wilton wrestler to win a State Open championship since 1993 with a 4-1 win over Simsbury freshman Ty Finn. Longo (35-1) had a pair of first period takedowns to earn the victory. His first takedown came seconds into the match when he pounced on Finn’s ankle and took his to the mat.
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At 113 pounds, Fitch’s Jarod Kosman remained undefeated with a 7-3 win over Windham’s Alejandro Garcia. Kosman improves to 44-0 on the season and took home his first State Open title. He had won two Class L titles and was one of five wrestlers to win four ECC championships.
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New Milford’s Mel Ortiz (43-3) won his first State Open championship at 126 pounds with a 3-2 win over Sean Johnson of Ellis Tech. Ortiz got the opening takedown for an early 2-0 lead. Johnson cut the lead to one with a late first period escape.
In the second period, Ortiz escaped to take a 3-1 lead. Johnson escaped early in the third period to cut the lead to one but couldn’t get a takedown in the final 1:55 of the bout.
“It feels good,” Ortiz said. “It’s a good step, honestly – a step toward the New England (championships) and (national championships) at Virginia Beach (in April).”
New Milford head coach Chris Piel said, “(Mel) had a few tough losses at the beginning of the season but he was able to get refocused and hopefully he is peaking at the right time.”
Ortiz was wrestling at 138 pounds earlier in the season but felt good at 126 and decided to compete there even with Danbury All-American Jakob Camacho at that same weight. In January, Camacho was injured but expected to return.
“He felt good there and we decided it was the right weight to go,” Piel said. “We practice to wrestle. We have to get pushed. You can’t run away from competition and we never have.”
Ortiz, who will attend George Mason next year, was happy to get the challenge. “Camacho is an awesome wrestler,” Ortiz said. “I was happy I got to wrestle him (last year). He gave me a hell of match. You have to take some risks. We like the challenge. You get better when you wrestle against the best in the country.”
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Montville’s Noah Caskey (132) remained undefeated at 47-0 to claim his first State Open championship with a 7-2 victory over Maloney’s Demetre Carnot.
Caskey was focused on preparing for the tournament. “It consumes your life almost,” he said. “The last two weeks I was working on reshots and attacks. Focusing for this almost becomes an obsession. A lot of preparation goes into this.”
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It looked like the final at 138 pounds between New Canaan’s Tyler Sung and Tolland’s Ryan Angers might be going in overtime. It was tied 2-2 in the third period before Angers got a takedown with 23 seconds left and turned Sung to his back with 15 seconds remaining to win his first State Open championship.
“That was pretty exciting,” a breathless Angers said afterwards. “I’ve been looking for (a State Open title) for a long time. I’m glad I made it happen. All of that hard work paid off.”
Sung led 1-0 after two periods but Angers (43-4) opened the third period with a reversal with 16 seconds gone to take a 2-1 lead. Sung tied it up with an escape of his own about 15 seconds later.
“I just kept wrestling my match,” Angers said. “I just wanted to stay calm, stay composed. That’s all it takes. I saw the (takedown) was there so I took it. He doesn’t give up much. He’s a heady wrestler.”
Angers became the first State Open champion from Tolland, which doesn’t have a wrestling team. Angers and his brother, Michael, who finished second at 160 pounds, work out with South Windsor and in the offseason, they train with the KT Kidz club.
Angers was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler.
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At 152 pounds, Foran’s Ryan Luth (48-2) won his second straight State Open championship with a 13-8 win over Granby’s Cooper Fleming, handing Fleming his first loss of the season.
Luth (48-2) has lost just twice this season and both times it came to New York wrestlers at the Eastern States Classic. Luth had five takedowns to control the bout with Fleming.
Luth had three takedowns and a 7-5 lead after one period. But he never let Fleming get anywhere near the lead. “He was probably the toughest guy I wrestled in Connecticut this year,” Luth said. “He was pretty funky with the way his body moves. He’s slippery but I’m sure I’ll see him at the New England’s next week.”
Luth won the New England championship a year ago.
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At 170 pounds, Xavier’s Ryan Devivo and Southington’s Paul Calo renewed their rivalry with Devivo winning a second State Open title with a 6-4 win over Calo. Devivo opened up a 6-2 lead and controlled Calo for most of the bout.
Devivo (45-2) beat Calo in last year’s Class LL and State Open final before dropping an overtime decision at the New England championships. Saturday’s match was their first meeting since the New England tournament last March.
“I wrestled a very bad match on my part,” Devivo said. “I wrestled very lazy but I came out on top. I was able to get my points in the middle of the match and that helped me out.”
Despite wrestling in his second straight Open final, Devivo was still nervous. “It’s all in the mind,” he said. “The nerves don’t go away because it’s so big.”
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Platt’s Ben Stratton (39-2) pinned Killingly’s Zach Caffrey in 1:55 to win his first State Open crown. “You just have to keep your head in the game and keep wrestling your match,” Stratton said. “It’s everything I’ve worked for.”
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At 220 pounds, Fitch’s Dakota Grover pinned East Hartford’s Isaiah Jiminian in 3:14 to win a championship. It was the first time that the Falcons have had two Open champions in the same tournament. Grover improved to 43-3 with the victory.
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Hand’s Michael Burchell had three pins and a technical fall to win the State Open title at 285 pounds. Burchell, who weighs about 220 pounds, pinned Stratford’s Sergio Ferreira in 4:00. Burchell pinned one wrestler in the tournament in nine seconds – an unheard of time against quality opposition that compete at the State Open.
“He got tired, got lazy and put his head down and I got him in a headlock (and pinned him),” Burchell said about Ferreira in the finals.
Burchell said his lighter weight gives him advantage against the heavyweights, who can weight up 285 pounds. “I’m so much faster and stronger than these kids,” he said. “They have the weight but it doesn’t help when you’re sloppy.”
To prepare for the season, he worked out throughout the year and worked with collegiate wrestlers from Johnson and Wales during the summer. “I put in a lot of work and it paid off,” Burchell said.
2018 State Open
At New Haven
Team results (partial) — 1. Danbury 149½; 2. Fairfield Warde, Bristol Eastern and Killingly 95; 5. Southington 94½; 6. Xavier-Middletown 90½; 7. Fitch 75; 8. Foran-Milford 71½; 9. New Milford 70; 10 New Canaan 59½; 11. Hand-Madison 53½; 12. East Hartford 51½; 13. Tolland 51; 14. Montville 44; 14. New London 44; 16. Granby 43; 17. Trumbull 42½; 18. Simsbury 42; 19. Westhill-Stamford 41; 20. Platt High-Meriden 38; Team results (partial) — 1. Danbury 149½; 2. Fairfield Warde, Bristol Eastern and Killingly 95; 5. Southington 94½; 6. Xavier-Middletown 90½; 7. Fitch 75; 8. Foran-Milford 71½; 9. New Milford 70; 10 New Canaan 59½; 11. Hand-Madison 53½; 12. East Hartford 51½; 13. Tolland 51; 14. Montville 44; 14. New London 44; 16. Granby 43; 17. Trumbull 42½; 18. Simsbury 42; 19. Westhill-Stamford 41; 20. Platt High-Meriden 38; 21. Ridgefield 37, 22. Wilton 36½, 23. Ellis Tech 36, 24. Northwestern, Branford 35, 26. Amity 34, 27. Bethel 32, 28. Windham 31, 29. Morgan, Newtpown, Ledyard 29, 32. Joel Barlow 27½, 33. Manchester 27, 34. Gilbert, Suffield 26, 36. Stratford, Maloney 24, 38. Jonathan Law 23, 39. E.O. Smith 22½, 40 Middletown 21½
Final: Travis Longo (Wilton) dec. Thomas Finn (Simsbury), 4-1; 3. Dan Charron (Killingly) dec. Naje Powell-keyton (New London), 5-0; 5. Elijah Cyr (Middletown) dec. Tyler Johnson (Danbury), 3-2
Final: Jarod Kosman (Fitch) dec. Alejandro Garcia (Windham), 7-3; 3. Jordon Champagne (Bristol Eastern) dec. Parker Sutton (Glastonbury), 4-2, OT; 5. Louis Bradley (Morgan) dec. Ben Leblanc (Danbury), 8-5
Final: Ryan Jack (Danbury) dec. William chase Parrot (Westhill), 6-2; 3. Brandon Leonard (New Milford) dec. Angelo Folino (Northwestern), 11-3; 5. Christopher Trelli (Bristol Central) pin Mike Charron (Killingly), 1:24
Final: Melquisedec Ortiz (New Milford) dec. Sean Johnson (Ellis Tech), 3-2; 3. Justin Mastroianni (New Canaan) dec. Jacob Cardozo (Southington), 14-5; 5. Thomas Mazur (Westhill) dec. Keldon Larose (Guilford), 12-1
Final: Noah Caskey (Montville) dec. Demetre Carnot (Maloney), 7-2; 3. Alex Steele (Fairfield Warde) dec. Kyle Fields (Danbury), 6-2; 5. James Lunt (Xavier) dec. Mark Hartmann (Daniel Hand), 14-3
Final: Ryan Angers (Tolland) dec. Tyler Sung (New Canaan), 7-2; 3. Shamar Schand (Manchester) dec. Shaun Wagner (Southington), 10-3; 5. Matthew Ryan (Trumbull) dec. Tyler Schultz (New Milford), 5-2
Final: Aj Kovacs (Danbury) pin Zack Burgess (Killingly), 3:52; 3. Timothy Roberts (East Hartford) dec. Everett Minevich (East Lyme), 7-3; 5. Austin Robertson (Fitch) win by forfeit over Hunter Adams (Suffield)
Final: Ryan Luth (Foran) dec. Cooper Fleming (Granby), 13-8; 3. Matthew Rothman (Amity) win by forfeit over Tagan Welch (Southington); 5. John Nieroda (Suffield) pin Justin Marshall (Bristol Eastern), 1:46
Final: Izaake Zuckerman (Fairfield Warde) dec. Michael Angers (Tolland), 4-3; 3. Jeffrey Suschana (Somers) dec. Simon Preston (Ridgefield), 5-0; 5. Michael Barrett (Bristol Eastern) dec. Joshua Schwartz (Northwestern), 2-0
Final: Ryan Devivo (Xavier) dec. Paul Calo (Southington), 6-4; 3. Gino Baratta (Danbury) dec. Derek Turner (Killingly), 5-1; 5. Carson Licastri (Joel Barlow) win by forfeit over Mason Laflam (Lym Mem/Wind Tch)
Final: Ben Stratton (Platt) pin Zach Caffrey (Killingly), 1:55; 3. Isaiah Rivera (E.O. Smith) dec. Benjamin Kibby (Granby), 5-4; 5. Dylan Sousa (Xavier) dec. Jackson King (Simsbury), 11-3
Final: Joe Gjinaj (Fairfield Warde) dec. Trinidad Gonzalez (Bristol Eastern), 4-1, 2 OT; 3. Jacob Commander (New London) dec. Ray Weiner (Shelton), 3-1; 5. Brett Nutter (Trumbull) dec. Kevin Brocksom (Jonathan Law), 5-3
Final: Dakota Grover (Fitch) pin Isaiah Jiminian (East Hartford), 3:14; 3. Nick Tibbetts (Montville) pin Qasim Khan (Foran), 2:53; 5. Nicholas Cote (Bethel) dec. Kyle Zalewski (Branford), 7-5
Final: Michael Burchell (Daniel Hand) pin Sergio Ferreira (Stratford), 4:00; 3. Richard Mullaney (Ledyard) dec. George Harrington (Staples), 4-2, 2 OT; 5. Joe Zeller (Newtown) dec. Austin Daley (Morgan), 3-1, OT
Outstanding wrestler: Ryan Angers, Tolland (138)
RESULTS: 2018 State Open championships