VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., March 31 – Fifteen Connecticut wrestlers earned All-American honors at this weekend’s National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) national championship tournaments.
Danbury junior Ryan Jack became just the fourth wrestler in state history to win a NHSCA national title with his dominating performance at 126 pounds in the Junior Nationals tournament.
Danbury’s Kyle Fields (132), Killingly’s Dan Charron (113), Middletown’s Elijah Cyr (120) and Ellis Tech’s Sean Johnson (138) earned All-American honors at the Senior Nationals tournament.
At the Junior National tournament, Jack, New Canaan’s Tyler Sung (145) and Danbury resident A.J. Kovacs (152) earned All-American honors by finishing in the top eight of their respective weight classes.
At the Sophomore Nationals, Xavier’s Michael Rapuano (106) and New Canaan’s Justin Mastroianni (138) were named All-Americans while Simsbury’s Samuel Bergin (160) earned All-American honors in the Freshman National tournament.
Connecticut had two All-American wrestlers in the first-ever NHSCA girls tournament with Southington’s Ashley Reed (144) and New Milford’s Joanne Ortiz (103) each finished third with Bristol Eastern’s Ella Nichols (136) finishing seventh. (See related story at Connecticut Wrestling Online)
At the Middle School nationals, Danbury’s Matthew Lopes (95, second) and New Milford’s Khalil Bourjeili (127, third) each earned All-American honors.
Jack went 7-0 in the tournament and turned in a dominating performance to earn Outstanding Wrestler honors. Jack had 38 takedowns in seven bouts and gave up just two takedowns in the tournament in an 18-6 semifinal win over Patrick Noonan of Pennsylvania.
Jack won his first national championship with a 12-5 victory over Zachary Redding of Manorville, New York.
Fitch’s Jarod Kosman won a Senior National title a year ago while Mastroianni won a Freshman National championship last March. Newtown’s Anthony Falbo (2015, 2016) and Ledyard’s T.J. Hepburn (2006) are the only other state wrestlers to win NHSCA titles in high school.
Connecticut had three wrestlers finish third in the Senior National tournament. Danbury’s Kyle Fields (132) took fifth at 132 pounds to earn NHSCA All-American honors for the third time in his high school career.
Fields won his first match with a takedown in overtime and advanced to the semifinals before he lost to eventual national champion Brayden Palmer of Tennessee, 10-1. Fields had a 4-2 win over New England champion Connor McGonagle of Timberlane, N.H. in the quarterfinals, taking a 4-1 lead after two periods.
Johnson went 6-1 in the tournament with three pins. Johnson advanced as far as the semifinals before he dropped a 6-3 decision to eventual national champion Malyke Hines of Florida. But Johnson rebounded with two wins in the consolation bracket to finish third. Johnson beat Blake Haney of Washington State, 5-1 in the consolation final.
Cyr wrestled a hard tournament, taking third at 113 to earn All-American honors for the first time in his career. He advanced to the semifinals with a 5-4 win in triple overtime over Kale McCracken of Wichita, Kansas. Cyr led 4-1 after two periods but McCracken tied the match in the third period with an escape and takedown.
Cyr had another tough bout in the semifinals before falling to Clarence-Lee Green of Virginia, 9-7 in overtime. Cyr led 6-3 in the third period thanks to an escape and takedown with 1:20 remaining but Green got a reversal and two-point near fall with 29 seconds left to take a 7-6 lead. Green was called for stalling with 12 seconds left to tie the match but he won it with a takedown in OT.
Cyr beat Charron in the consolation semifinals by pin in 52 seconds before taking third with an 8-7 win over Virginia’s Riley Parker. Cyr led 6-2 after two periods with a near fall and two takedowns.
Charron went 5-2 in the tournament, earning All-American honors with a 6-2 win over Loki Ryan of North Carolina. Charron scored four points third period to snap a 2-2 tie. Charron beat Christian Rivas of Sabis in Springfield, Massachusetts by pin (3:02) to finish fifth.
In the Junior National tournament, Jack, Sung and Kovacs each earned NHSCA All-American honors for the third time in their high school careers. Only six other Connecticut wrestlers have done this.
Sung went 6-3 as he finished sixth at 145 pounds. He his first four matches of the tournament before dropping a 4-3 decision to Brandon Roberts of West Virginia in the quarterfinals. A two-point near fall with 1:08 left in the bout gave Roberts the commanding lead.
In his first consolation round bout, Sung remained alive with a 3-1 win in overtime over New York’s Justin McDonald. He earned All-American honors with a 3-0 win over Bruce Sanderlin of Virginia before dropping two matches to take sixth.
Kovacs spent the first two years of high school career at Danbury High. Now, he is at nearby Iona Prep, just across the border in New York. But the Danbury resident finished second at 152 pounds, going 6-1 with three pins in the tournament.
Kovacs took a 3-1 lead in the championship final over Ohio’s Elan Heard thanks to an escape and takedown with 1:48 remaining. But Heard escaped with 1:01 to go and got a takedown and two-point near fall with 14 seconds left to take the lead. Heard won, 6-4.
Kovacs prevailed in a tight semifinal match, escaping with 53 seconds remaining in an 11-10 victory over Andrew Cerniglia of Pennsylvania.
It was Kovacs’ second appearance in the national finals. He was second in the Freshman Tournament in 2017 at 138 pounds.
In the Sophomore Tournament, Mastroianni went 8-2 with five straight wins in the consolation bracket before dropping an 11-6 decision to Ohio’s Derek Fields to finish fourth at 138 pounds.
Mastroianni won his first three matches of the tournament before losing to New Jersey’s Cooper Pontelandolfo, 5-4, in the round of 16 with a takedown with 34 seconds remaining.
Rapuano went 5-3 at 106 pounds and won three straight matches in the consolation bracket. Leading by one point in the third period, Rapuano escaped and got a takedown with 44 seconds left to beat New York’s Jace Schafer, 7-3 and earn All-American honors.
Rapuano lost to Zack Mattin of Ohio in the seventh place match, 9-5 to finish eighth.
Bergin got pinned in his first match in the Freshman Tournament at 160 pounds but won six straight in the consolation round with five pins to earn All-American honors. He pinned Nathaniel Fly of Virginia in 1:05 to take fifth. Bergin was 7-2 in the tournament with six pins.
In the Middle School tournament, New England champion Matthew Lopes (95) of Danbury advanced to the finals before getting pinned by Hayden Cunningham of Pennsylvania in 2:46.
New England champion Khalil Bourjeili of New Milford finished third at 127 pounds with a 5-4 win over Landon Muth of Pennsylvania with a takedown with seven seconds remaining. After losing in the quarterfinals, Bourjeili won four straight matches in the consolation round.
2019 NHSCA All-Americans
Dan Charron, Killingly 113, fifth
Elijah Cyr, Middletown, 120, third
Kyle Fields, Danbury, 132, fifth
Sean Johnson, Ellis Tech, 138, third
Ryan Jack, Danbury, 126, first
Tyler Sung, New Canaan, 145, sixth
A.J. Kovacs, Iona Prep (Danbury), 152, second
Michael Rapuano, Xavier, 106, eighth
Justin Mastroianni, New Canaan, 138, fourth
Samuel Bergin, Simsbury, 160, fifth
Joanne Ortiz, New Milford, third, 103
Ashley Reed, Southington, third, 144
Matthew Lopes, Danbury, second, 95
Khalil Bourjeili, New Milford, third, 127