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Risley picks up 500th career victory; No. 2 Fairfield Warde wins own tournament

Windham High wrestling coach Pat Risley is just the fourth coach in state history with more than 500 career victories.

Windham High wrestling coach Patrick Risley became the fourth man in state history to win 500 dual meets as his Whippets finished second at the 11th annual Whippet Duals in Windham. Guilford (6-1) had five pins compared to four for Windham to edge the Whippets and win the tournament for the first time.

Guilford beat Waterford in the semifinals, 54-30 while Windham topped Amity, 43-32 in the other semifinal. Waterford finished third with a 51-27 decision over Amity.

With victories over Canton and Portland, Risley picked up his 500th win in pool play. He now has a career record of 501-210-2. Only Derby’s Buster Jadach, Killingly’s Rich Bowen and the late Jim Day of Berlin have amassed more than 500 career wins.

Saturday, January 4: Results and boxscores

“I’ve been surrounded by great people,” Risley said in September after he was named the National High School Coaches Association Wrestling Coach of the Year. “Success breeds success. (The kids) want to be on a winning program. They want to be a part of it. They see the success and want to be a part of it.”

He coached several years at Plainville (1989-93) before taking over at Windham in 1999. He has led Windham to seven state championships – five in Class S, including five in the last seven seasons, and two in Class M. His Whippets have finished second in Class M five times and once in Class S. Risley had led Windham to three Eastern Connecticut Conference championships in 2004, 2015 and 2015.

Fairfield Warde won their own Warde Invitational on Saturday in Fairfield for the tenth time in 11 years. (Photo courtesy Fairfield Warde wrestling)

With seven individual champions and eight finalists, No. 2 Fairfield Warde kept the championship trophy for the 11th annual Warde Invitational right at home in Fairfield. The Mustangs easily won the tournament for the seventh consecutive year with a 268½ to 178 win over No. 6 Staples-Westport. Middletown was in third place with 154 points.

Cole Shaughnessy (152) was the outstanding wrestler for upper weights and one of the Mustangs’ seven champions. Jack Dean (99), Lucas Coleman (113), Nate Cuoco (132), Will Ebert (145), Hunter Rasmussen (170) and John Summers (182) each finished first for Fairfield Warde.

Saturday, January 4: Results and boxscores

For the second straight year, No. 1 Danbury captured the 52nd annual Spartan Wrestling Annual Tournament (SWAT) in Sanford, Maine. The Hatters again beat Timberlane Regional-Plaistow, N.H., 250-221 to win the championship. Danbury and Timberlane were first and second in the tournament a year ago. Xavier was third with 198 points – their highest ever finish in the tournament.

Mt. Anthony Union was too strong for No. 7 Southington with eight victories to win the Ray Southland Memorial Duals at Southington High with a 60-18 victory. The 15th annual event was renamed in honor of the late referee and Meriden middle school principal who died last July.

Southington (5-2) won three matches in the tournament including a 47-31 win over Greenwich in one semifinal. The Patriots, who won the tournament for the fifth time and the first time since 2017, handed Platt their first loss of the season in other semifinal, 54-27. The Panthers (10-1) took third with a 45-33 decision over Greenwich.

Saturday, January 4: Results and boxscores

It’s been nearly a quarter century since Bristol schools dominated the Bristol Central Invitational. On Saturday, No. 4 Bristol Eastern and cross-town rival Bristol Central finished first and second, respectively, in the 38th annual tournament. With three individual champions and four finalists, Eastern won for a record fifth straight time, 210½ to 165 over Central. Eastern has won the tournament 11 times.

Outstanding wrestler Tommy Nichols (138) won for Eastern along with Trent Thompson (106) and Alex Marshall (152). Nick St. Peter (285) finished second. Nichols had three pins – all in the first period. For Central, Jason Feto (132) won an individual championship with Jake Aldi (120), Will Hamilton (106) and Jakob Salinas (195) each finishing second.

Eastern’s Ella Nichols (145), who is one of two Connecticut girls to be nationally ranked (seventh at 144), made her varsity debut in the tournament and finished fourth with two victories.

Ledyard had four individual champions to help the Colonels finish third with 145 points. Connor Doran (113 pounds), Caden Foote (145), Brayden Grim (160) and Davin McIver (285) won titles while Shea Kenyon (106) and Mason Barnett (152) each placed second.

Saturday, January 4: Results and boxscores

Simsbury’s Ty Finn (132) beat Tom River East’s Michael Conklin, 10-6 to win an individual title at the Sam Cali Memorial Tournament in West River, N.J. Conklin, a National High School Coaches Association All-American, finished second at the NHSCA Sophomore nationals last March in Virginia. Finn helped Simsbury finish ninth in the 41-team tournament held on 12 mats over two days. Saul Pera (145) finished fourth for Simsbury while D’Sean Martin (285) took fifth.

At the Chris Hernandez Memorial Tournament at Lincoln High in Brooklyn, Gilbert had two individual champions with Devin Matthews (132) and Connor Blay (160) winning titles. Kyle Matthews (152) and Bajram Gutic (195) each finished second with Dylan Keith (285) finishing third.

Saturday, January 4: Results and boxscores

Suffield/Windsor Locks (6-0) remained undefeated with five victories against western Massachusetts teams. The Wildcats beat Mohawk Trail Regional, South Hadley High, John Dugan Academy in Springfield, Hampden Charter of Science in Chicopee and Hampshire Regional from Westhampton. Suffield/WL gave up no more than 30 points in wins over South Hadley and Hampden.

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

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