NEW HAVEN, February 23, 2019 – It may seem like business as usual for the Danbury High wrestling team. The Hatters captured another FCIAC championship and secured their fourth straight Class LL title with 11 wrestlers earning medals.
At the State Open, Danbury had two individual champions and three finalists as they won the tournament for the third straight year with a 158-109 win over Xavier.
In December, Danbury High coach Ricky Shook was worried. Several wrestlers were under .500. “My team is made up of a couple of stud (wrestlers), a couple guys who work hard, wrestle hard and a bunch of rookies,” Shook said. “My team wasn’t very good at the beginning of the season but we got really good as the year went on.”
The Hatters wrestle a demanding schedule with tournaments in New York and Maine and they have a Hall of Fame coach leading the coaching staff.
“I haven’t had to coach this much in a long time,” he admitted Saturday. “We had to teach a lot of stuff. And it’s every day. But they work hard in practice and they picked it up.”
Danbury junior Ryan Jack (126) became just the 16th wrestler in state history to win three State Open championships after pinning Northwestern’s Angelo Folino while teammate Kyle Fields (132) beat Westhill’s Chase Parrot for the third consecutive week in a tournament final (FCIAC, Class LL, Open).
Jordan Agosto (285) finished second while Montez Osbrey (195) finished third and Ben LeBlanc (145) was fourth. Kai O’Dell (106) and Tyler Johnson (120) each finished fifth and qualified to wrestle in next weekend’s New England championships in Providence. The top five wrestlers from each weight class qualify.
Xavier, which finished third at last week’s very tight Class L championship meet, had four medal winners and finished second – their best State Open finish since winning it all in 2012.
Michael Rapuano (106) outlasted Killingly’s Danny Charron, 11-8, to win his first State Open championship while Dylan Sousa (170) finished second, Jameel Salami (285) was third and James Lunt (145) took sixth.
“Xavier wrestled great,” Shook said. “I knew how good they would be at the end of the year when they finally got a full lineup.”
Fairfield Warde was third with 103 points and the Mustangs had a great Saturday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center on the campus of Hillhouse High School. Warde wrestlers went 17-2 in matches on day two of the tournament.
Joe Gjinaj (195) pinned Foran’s Nolan Bannon in 5:44 to win his second straight State Open championship while Cole Shaughnessy (145), Noah Zuckerman (152) and Will Ebert (126) each finished third.
“We had a fairly tough schedule and the kids were committed to the end goal,” Warde coach Jason Shaughnessy said. “They kept plugging away and didn’t lose the faith.”
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With the win, Jack put himself in position to become just the third wrestler in state history to win four State Open championships if he can achieve that feat next February.
This weekend, he took care of business with four pins – three in the first period. Folino grew some cheers from the crowd when he immediately got a two-point reversal against Jack in the first period of their championship match at 126 pounds.
That just fired up Jack. He had another nine takedowns before he pinned Folino late in the second period. Jack was content to takedown Folino and let him up and do it again. Folino and teammate Joshua Schwartz were the first Northwestern wrestlers in an Open final since 2005.
“I just got a little sloppy,” Jack said.
Jack was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler.
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Jaylin Houston became the first State Open wrestling champion from the New Haven co-op with a 7-0 win over Danbury’s Jordan Agosto. The key was using a headlock to throw Agosto to his back in the first period for a quick 5-0 lead.
In the semifinals, Houston was trailing Xavier’s Jameel Salami by two points, 3-1, with 1:30 left in the match but again, he got a headlock on Salami for a pin and a spot in the championship match.
Houston finished fourth in last week’s Class LL championships and is just a second-year wrestler.
“It’s huge,” New Haven co-op’s second-year coach Marcello Catapano said. “My whole thing is to try and build a lasting wrestling program here in New Haven. Not only is a great moment for the guys in the program but for future guys in the program, too.”
Houston’s brother, Jaracie, wrestled for New Haven and took sixth at the State Open in 2017 at 285 pounds. Houston is a student at Engineering and Science University Magnet School, whose students represent Hillhouse athletically. The co-op is made up of students from Hillhouse, Wilbur Cross and Hamden.
The New Haven coaching staff was thrilled as was Houston’s family and friends.
Omar Thomas, a New Haven policeman and the school’s Resource Officer at Hillhouse, proudly got into a selfie photo with Houston. “Gotta get my photo with the champ,” he said with pride.
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New Canaan sophomore Justin Mastroianni (138) has plenty of wrestling experience. A year ago, he became just the second wrestler from Connecticut to win a National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) national title in the freshman tournament.
He battled Ellis Tech’s Sean Johnson, a four-time Class M champion, in a hard-fought championship match, holding off a late takedown attempt from Johnson to secure a 4-3 victory and his first State Open championship.
Mastroianni got a late taketown with 16 seconds left in the second period to take a 4-2 lead. Johnson escaped early in the third period to cut the lead to one but couldn’t get a match-winning takedown.
Mastroianni competed despite being slowed by a cold. “Honestly, I didn’t feel myself wrestling,” he said. “My body just did it. I wasn’t thinking.”
New Canaan coach Paul Gallo said, “He hasn’t been feeling that well and he has the ability to recover from things that other people cannot. He has so much experience that when he gets in trouble, he knows how to ride it out.”
It was a tough loss for Johnson, who lost in the final for the third straight year – and each time, it was a one-point decision. Last year, New Milford’s Mel Ortiz beat Johnson, 3-2 and in 2017, Berlin’s Nick Arborio beat Johnson, 4-3.
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In the final for the third straight year, New Canaan’s Tyler Sung (145) won his first State Open title with a 5-0 win over Berlin’s Dan Veleas. “It’s very exciting,” Sung said. “It’s hard to describe but it’s a great moment full of great memories. All of that hard work has been worth it.”
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At 152 pounds, Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Hunter Adams became the first-ever Suffield High wrestler to bring home a State Open championship. Adams pinned Jonathan Law’s Shayne McCourt in 2:21. Adams pinned three of his four opponents at the Open.
He was thrilled with the win considering he had been hurt twice in semifinal losses. As a freshman, he dislocated his shoulder. As a sophomore, he lost in the semifinals when he hurt his back.
“I think I was wrestling efficiently. I was focused on doing everything right,” said Adams, a two-time Class M champion. “This is a huge (burden) that is lifted off my shoulder.”
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Tolland’s Michael Angers (160) trains with South Windsor since Tolland doesn’t have a wrestling team. Angers is one of the many one-man teams that train with other programs around the state.
Angers and his training partner at South Windsor, Cooper Nodden, both won State Open titles on Saturday.
Angers, who won the Class M championship a week ago, was making his third consecutive appearance in an Open final. He lost by tech fall as a sophomore but lost by just a point to Fairfield Warde’s Izaake Zuckerman at 160 a year ago.
On Saturday, Angers dominated in a 9-0 win over Northwestern’s Joshua Schwartz. Angers was quick and strong taking a 4-0 lead after one period and extending that to 9-0 after two periods.
“The experienced helped a ton,” Angers said. “I was relaxed and ready to go.”
Nodden, a senior who finished fourth in Class LL had a great tournament at 170 pounds. He began the tournament by beating Foran’s Umer Khan in overtime and then he upset top seed Alex Smith of Gilbert, 7-1 in the quarterfinals and outlasted Wethersfield’s Alec Arnold, 3-0 in the semifinal.
The final against Class L champion Dylan Sousa of Xavier was more difficult. Sousa led 1-0 in the third period and Nodden was having a tough time getting free to do anything.
Sousa was riding Nodden and throwing legs. He nearly turned Nodden to his back but Sousa didn’t maintain his balance. Nodden grabbed Sousa’s head and arched his back and it put Sousa on his back. And all of a sudden, it was over with Nodden winning by pin with nine seconds left in the match.
“I’ve dealt with kids throwing legs before and it’s not my strong suit but I had to deal with it,” Nodden said. “I was in a good position knowing where I was. He was (trying) to take me back but I reached up and pulled on the back of his head and arched my back.”
It was a good week for Nodden, who also became an Eagle Scout earlier in the week.
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At 182 pounds, Joel Barlow’s Carson LiCastri won his first State Open title in quick fashion with a 37 second pin of Nonnewaug’s Jack Cronin. LiCastri quickly got Cronin stuck in a cradle for the win. He followed in the footsteps of his brother, Emmett, who won a State Open title in 2017.
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Bristol Eastern’s Trinidad Gonzalez (220) was in his second straight State Open final. He beat Shelton’s Ray Weiner, 2-1 thanks to a penalty point called on Weiner for stalling with 56 seconds remaining.
Gonzalez took a 1-0 lead with a second period escape and Weiner tied it with an escape of his own eight seconds into the third period. Gonzalez had two pins in the tournament.
Weiner, who was fourth in Class LL, won several close bouts in the tournament. He beat Staples’ George Harrington with an escape with seven seconds left in triple OT in the semifinals and got a takedown with 12 seconds left to beat Wethersfield’s Austin Harnish, 3-1, in the quarterfinals.
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At 106, Xavier’s Michael Rapuano outlasted Class M champion Danny Charron of Killingly, 11-8 to beomce the first sophomore in school history to win the State Open. Charron got a takedown with 1:39 left in the third period to cut the lead to two points, 8-6 but Rapuano escaped and got a takedown with 1:10 left to retain command of the contest.
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At 113, Middletown’s Elijah Cyr prevailed in three straight tight matches to win a State Open title over Trumbull’s Travis Longo, 3-2. Longo, who wrestled for Wilton last winter, was trying to win his second straight Open title.
Cyr, who won the Class M championship, won his first match with a pin but outlasted Waterford’s Logan Smith in the quarterfinals with a 2-1 victory. In the semifinals, Cyr got a takedown with 40 seconds left that lifted the senior to a 3-1 victory over Hall’s Drew Currier.
In the final against Cyr’s persistence on a takedown attempt in the second period paid off. It was near the edge of the mat and Cyr continued to press for it, scoring two points with two seconds left in the period for a 3-0 lead – enough for a 3-2 victory.
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Norwalk’s Sam White had three consecutive tight wins to win the State Open title at 120 pounds with a 7-1 victory over Platt’s James Rondini.
White, who finished second a week ago in Class LL behind Danbury’s Tyler Johnson, won his first match by technical fall and then battled in a 5-1 win over Class M champion Braeden O’Brien of Bacon Academy. Leading by 3-1 in the waning minutes, White secured the match with a takedown with eight seconds remaining.
It took even longer in the semifinals when White got a takedown with 44 seconds left in the second overtime to beat Glastonbury’s Parker Sutton, 2-0 and earn a spot in the championship match.
Against Rondini, White led 2-1 after two periods but got a reversal with 1:13 remaining to take a three-point lead and added a near fall with 13 seconds to go to clinch the championship.
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NOTES — Three Berkshire League wrestlers were in the finals — the most ever in a single season. Nonnewaug’s Jack Cronin (170), Northwestern’s Joshua Schwartz (160) and Angelo Folino (126) were in the finals. They were the only Class S wrestlers in the finals. … Danbury’s Kyle Fields (132) won two matches by technical fall and earned a 14-point decision in the semifinals before beating Westhill’s Kyle Parrot for the third straight week, 4-2. A takedown with 1:06 left gave Fields a commanding 4-1 lead. … It was Field’s second State Open title in three years. He won at 126 pounds in 2017.
2019 State Open championships
At New Haven
Team results – 1. Danbury 158, 2. Xavier 109, 3. Fairfield Warde 103, 4. Bristol Eastern 89, 5. Trumbull 78½, 6. New Canaan 71, 7. Simsbury 70, 8. Southington 69, 9. Joel Barlow and Suffield/Windsor Locks 63, 11. Northwestern 62, 12. Killingly and Wethersfield 60, 14. Middletown 49, 15. Foran 47½, 16. Nonnewaug 44, 17. Ellis Tech 43, 18. South Windsor and Westhill 39; 20. Ledyard, Shelton, Staples 37; 23. Avon 36, 24. Glastonbury and New Haven 35, 26. Gilbert and Hall 32, 28. New Milford 31½, 29. New London 31, 30. Norwalk 30½, 31. Branford 30, 32. Tolland 29, 33. Manchester 28, 34. Griswold and Platt High 27, 36. Berlin 25, 37. Jonathan Law 24, 38. Haddam-Killingworth and Montville 20, 40. Waterford 19½, 41. Canton and Bristol Central 19, 43. Brien McMahon and New Fairfield 18, 45. Newtown and East Hartford 17; 47. Greenwich and Ridgefield 16, 49. Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech and Plainville 14, 51. Newington 13, 52. Brookfield 12, 53. East Catholic 11½, 54. Amity, East Hampton and New Britain 11; 57. Abbot Tech and Maloney 10; 59. Bacon Academy, Fairfield Prep and Hand 8; 62. NFA, Oxford, Windham High 7; 65. Bethel, East Haven, Enfield and Stafford 6; 70. E.O. Smith, East Windsor, Granby, Guilford, Masuk, Morgan, RHAM and Valley Regional 4; 78. Portland 3, 79. Wilton 2; 80. Conard 2
Final: Michael Rapuano (Xavier) dec. Danny Charron (Killingly), 11-8
3. Trent Thompson (Bristol Eastern) dec. Josh Brault (Joel Barlow), 13-4
5. Kai O’Dell (Danbury) dec. Evan Lindner (New Milford), 5-0
Final: Elijah Cyr (Middletown) dec. Travis Longo (Trumbull), 3-2
3. Drew Currier (Hall) dec. Mike Charron (Killingly), 5-4
5. Martial Sutton (Glastonbury) dec. Dylan Levesque (East Hampton), 6-0
Final: Sam White (Norwalk) dec. James Rondini (Platt), 7-1
3. Ty Finn (Simsbury) dec. Parker Sutton (Glastonbury), 3-1
5. Tyler Johnson (Danbury) dec. Abhi Bhabad (Avon), 13-4
Final: Ryan Jack (Danbury) pin Angelo Folino (Northwestern), 3:51
3. Will Ebert (Fairfield Warde) dec. John Mairano (Simsbury), 1-0
5. Peter Coniglio (New Milford) dec. Hunter Chin (New Fairfield), 4-0
Final: Kyle Fields (Danbury) dec. Chase Parrot (Westhill), 4-2
3. Tom Nichols (Bristol Eastern) dec. Saul Pera (Simsbury), 1-0
5. Devin Matthews (Gilbert) dec. Nik Accousti (Newtown), 5-1
Final: Justin Mastroianni (New Canaan) dec. Sean Johnson (Ellis Tech), 4-3
3. Shamar Schand (Manchester) forfeit over Matt Laurie (Wethersfield)
5. Matt Ryan (Trumbull) dec. Cole Dirico (Ledyard), 12-1
Final: Tyler Sung (New Canaan) dec. Daniel Veleas (Berlin), 5-0
3. Cole Shaughnessy (Fairfield Warde) dec. Ben Leblanc (Danbury), 10-7
5. Jacob Cardozo (Southington) dec. James Lunt (Xavier), 8-2
Final: Hunter Adams (Suffield/Windsor Locks) pin Shayne Mccourt (Jonathan Law), 2:21
3. Noah Zuckerman (Fairfield Warde) dec. Tommy Mazur (Westhill), 6-3
5. Ryan Powers (Lyman Mem/Windam Tech) dec. Nate Sibbett (New Canaan), 7-4
Final: Michael Angers (Tolland) dec. Joshua Schwartz (Northwestern), 9-0
3. Miguel Gonzalez (Suffield/Windsor Locks) dec. Lazar Agoev (Ridgefield), 4-3
5. Josh Vitti (Southington) forfeit over Samuel Bergin (Simsbury)
Final: Cooper Nodden (South Windsor) pin Dylan Sousa (Xavier), 5:51
3. Derek Turner (Killingly) dec. Alec Arnold (Wethersfield), 3-0
5. Umer Khan (Foran) dec. Hunter Rasmussen (Fairfield Warde), 4-3
Final: Carson Licastri (Joel Barlow) pin Jack Cronin (Nonnewaug), 0:37
3. Jacob Commander (New London) dec. Joseph Palmieri (Trumbull), 9-4
5. Justin Osler (Branford) dec. Andrew Nanai (Greenwich), 6-1
Final: Joe Gjinaj (Fairfield Warde) pin Nolan Bannon (Foran), 5:44
3. Montez Osbey (Danbury) dec. Johnny Falco (Griswold), 7-1
5. Jamikael Lytle (Northwestern) pin Caleb Chesanow (Southington), 1:34
Final: Trinidad Gonzalez (Bristol Eastern) dec. Ray Weiner (Shelton), 2-1
3. George Harrington (Staples) dec. Hugh Wells (Hall), 6-4
5. Chris Gens (Avon) dec. Austin Harnish (Wethersfield), 3-2
Final: Jaylin Houston (New Haven) dec. Jordan Agosto (Danbury), 7-0
3. Jameel Salami (Xavier) dec. Hayden Minski (Ellis Tech), 6-4
5. Matt Weiner (Shelton) pin Nygell Smikle (Middletown), 2:22
Outstanding wrestler: Ryan Jack, Danbury (126)