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No. 4 Xavier rallies to beat No. 2 Simsbury for Class L championship

The Xavier High wrestling team celebrates after winning the Class L championship Saturday in Bristol. More photos from the Class L tournament. 

BRISTOL, February 22, 2020 – Haunted by a half-point loss in last year’s CIAC Class L tournament, the Simsbury High wrestling scored more points than they ever have in a state tournament event with 240½ points in Saturday’s Class L championships at Bristol Central.

The No. 2 Trojans had 11 wrestlers finish in the top six of their respective weight classes to earn a berth in next week’s State Open championships. They had four finalists and one individual champion.

And it wasn’t enough.

No. 4 Xavier put five wrestlers in the finals, won three individual championships and outlasted Simsbury by 2½ points to capture their first state championship tournament since 2012. The Falcons, who had 10 wrestlers finish in the top six of their respective weight classes, scored 243 points – the fourth-highest score in tournament history.

Before the finals, Xavier coach Mike Cunningham told his Falcons, “Just go out there and have fun. It is in your hands. If you want to win it, Simsbury isn’t going to give it you. Go out and do your best.”

Junior Michael Rapuano (113), James Lunt (145) and Luke Tischio (160) earn won titles for the Falcons, who battled with Simsbury throughout the tournament as the lead swung back and forth between both teams.

Xavier’s Luke Tischio keeps the pressure on Middletown’s Terrell Johnson in the 160 pound final at Saturday’s Class L championship meet. More photos from the Class L tournament. 

Before the finals began, the teams completed the medal rounds with the third place and fifth place matches. Simsbury picked up some momentum with four straight wins, including pins from Tyler Coiro (170) to finish third and Jack Cunningham (195) to finish fifth. At 220, Frank Guilfoyle got a takedown with 24 seconds remaining to beat Xavier’s Michael Reddick to finish third, 6-4.

Simsbury took an 8½ point lead in the finals, which began at 285 pounds.

Simsbury’s D’Sean Martin was battling Bristol Eastern’s Nicholas St. Peter in the final and had a 2-1 lead with 47 seconds remaining. But St. Peter got a takedown with 11 seconds remaining to earn a 3-2 victory in a loud building supporting the hometown wrestler.

Rapuano (42-4) took care of business at 113 pounds, winning his second consecutive Class L title by technical fall over Wethersfield’s Bryce Arnold, 19-2. That sliced the Simsbury lead to three points, 236-233.

Bristol Central’s Jason Feto has Middletown’s Dylan Sassu on his back in the consolation final at 132 pounds. Feto won by pin. More photos from the Class L tournament. 

At 132 pounds, Simsbury’s Ty Finn (44-2) was dominant beating New Milford’s Peter Coniglio by tech fall to win his second straight Class L title. That extended the Simsbury lead to 8½ points, 241½-233.

Simsbury sophomore John Mairano squared off with New Milford freshman Khalil Bourjeili (29-3) in the finals at 138. It was a scoreless late in the first period and two wrestlers were scrambling for position when it looked like Mairano pinned himself with one second left in the period.

Frustrated with the pin, Mairano whipped his headgear into the stands, costing his team a point for unsportsmanlike conduct, trimming the Simsbury lead to 7½ points, 240½-233.

But the pin wasn’t just an accident. Bourjeili was been training with Empire Wrestling in the offseason and has wrestled plenty of times with three-time NCAA All-American Kevin Jack, the Danbury native who wrestled at North Carolina State.

“It’s called the knapsack sack,” New Milford coach Chris Piel said. “(Khalil) has had the benefit of working out with Kevin and (Khalil) knows what to do in that situation.”

Bourjeili reached the finals with a takedown in the waning seconds of his 4-3 win over top-seeded Thomas Nichols of Bristol Eastern.

With the gym buzzing, Xavier’s James Lunt roared out of the gate to dominate Simsbury’s Saul Pera (145). Lunt (37-3) led 8-2 after one period and was up 11-2 before getting a pin in 3:15 to put the Falcons on the verge of a state championship.

“I knew my team was counting on me,” Lunt said. “I put the pressure on early and broke him a bit mentally in the first period.”

The win cut Simsbury’s lead to a half point.

Tishchio’s 8-5 win over Middletown’s Terrell Johnson at 160 pounds clinched the championship for the Xavier. Johnson got the initial takedown in the match but Tishchio scored the next eight points to take command of the bout.

“We wrestled really well,” Simsbury coach T.J. Silva said. “We did what we came to do, we just came up a little short. Xavier wrestled a great tournament. They just got more one finalist than we did. The good thing about wrestled is there is always next weekend. We will have 11 at the (State) Open. We will lick our wounds a little bit but the ultimate goal is to win an Open (championship).”

Both teams got contributions up and down the lineup.

Xavier’s Colin Lori (120) and Giovanni Imme (138) were both seeded ninth in their respective weight classes. Both earned medals. Loria went 4-0 in the consolation round to finish third with a 58-second pin in the consolation final while Imme was 3-1 in the consolation round to take fifth.

Marcelius Ruiz (195) and Quinn Moynihan (152) each finished second while Marcus Wilson Toliver (285) finished third. Michael Reddick (220) took fourth while Ryan Miner (170) finished fifth.

“Every day in practice we pushed each other. We deserve this,” Rapuano said. “We’ve been training all year for this. We have a real tough schedule. When we know we’ve wrestled the best, we come in with a good mindset and we’re ready to go.”

This is the sixth tournament that the Falcons have won this year. Xavier won the Mid-Hudson Classic in New York in late December, their own Colter Abely tournament in Middletown, the Metheun (Mass.) Invitational, the Bobcat Classic in Colchester and the SCC Tournament.

Simsbury’s Andrew Oken (160) had wrestled just one match this season before breaking two bones in his arm during practice in December. But he was cleared to participate on Wednesday and was entered as a No. 15. Oken went 5-2 in the tournament to finish fifth. He had a 4-2 overtime win over E.O. Smith’s Sean Bentley in the consolation round to keep him alive in the tournament.

Other medalist for Simsbury included Cael Finn (106, 4th), Noah Pryzbek (152, 4th) and Ryan Guilfoyle (3rd, 182).

“We’ll be back to work on Monday, working hard and trying to win the (State) Open,” Silva said. “It (stinks) to lose two years a row. But I feel we are in a position where we can go out and challenge Danbury, challenge Xavier and challenge teams that won Class S and Class M. If you want to be the best team in the state, go beat them in the Open.”

New Milford’s Peter Conigilo tries to escape from Simsbury’s Ty Finn in the finals at 132 pounds. Finn won his second straight Class L title with a pin. More photos from the Class L tournament. 

New Milford finished third with a 1½ edge over No. 4 Bristol Eastern. Bourjeili won at 138 while teammates Evan Lindner (106) and Richard Morrell (170) also brought home championships. Lindner got a reversal with 44 seconds left in regulation and rode out Bristol Eastern’s Trent Thompson for a 6-4 victory. Morrell pinned top-seeded Ethan Grous of E.O. Smith in 39 seconds.

Undefeated freshman Giuseppe Iamunno of North Haven (26-0) pinned Bristol Eastern’s Mason Lishness in the 126 pound final and was named outstanding wrestler.

New Canaan’s Tyler Sung (9-0) won his third straight Class L championship by pinning Xavier’s Quinn Moynihan in 36 seconds.

Amity had two champions. Simon Flaherty outlasted Newington’s Aidan Lozada at 182 pounds in a 7-4 victory while teammate Joshua Foote (220) beat Roark Ryan of East Lyme/Norwich Tech, 3-2. Bristol Central’s Jakob Salinas won a title by beating Xavier’s Marcelius Ruiz, 2-1, in the final at 195 pounds.

NOTES: Xavier has won just three state championships. They won back-to-back Class LL titles in 2011 and 2012. In the eight years since then, the Falcons have finished second three times and third twice.  …. Simsbury’s previous best performance in a CIAC tournament was 212 when they won the Class LL title in 1992. … Simsbury last won a state title in 1997 when they beat Weaver by 18 points to win the Class L championship.

Simsbury’s John Mairano, left, and New Milford’s Khalil Bourjeili battle in the Class L final at 138 pounds on Saturday in Bristol. More photos from the Class L tournament. 

CIAC Class L championships
At Bristol Central
Team results – 1. Xavier-Middletown 243, 2. Simsbury 240½, 3. New Milford 166½, 4. Bristol Eastern 165, 5. Bristol Central 149½, 6. Wethersfield 107½, 7. Middletown 102½, 8. Amity 99, 9. Pomperaug 87, 10. New Canaan 77, 11. East Lyme/Norwich Tech 68½, 12. Fitch 64, 13. E.O. Smith 62, 14. Hand and Newington 61, 16. Bunnell 57, 17. Maloney 54, 18. Harding 49, 19. Farmington 36, 20. Wilton 33, 21. North Haven 32, 22. South Windsor 21, 23. Windsor 19, 24. Cheshire 18, 25. Darien 3.
Championship finals
106 Evan Lindner (New Milford) dec. Trent Thompson (Bristol Eastern), 6-4
113 Michael Rapuano (Xavier) tech fall Bryce Arnold (Wethersfield), 19-2, 5:29
120 Giuseppe Iamunno (North Haven) pin Mason Lishness (Bristol Eastern), 0:40
126 Kalil Shabazz (Middletown) dec. Michael Carpenter (Pomperaug), 5-3
132 Thomas Finn (Simsbury) tech fall Peter Coniglio (New Milford), 15-0, 4:51
138 Khalil Bourjeili (New Milford) pin John Mairano (Simsbury), 1:59
145 James Lunt (Xavier) pin Saul Pera (Simsbury), 3:15
152 Tyler Sung (New Canaan) pin Quinn Moynihan (Xavier), 0:36
160 Luke Tischio (Xavier) dec. Terrell Johnson (Middletown), 8-5
170 Richard Morrell (New Milford) pin Ethan Grous (E.O. Smith), 0:39
182 Simon Flaherty (Amity) dec. Aidan Lozada (Newington), 7-4
195 Jakob Salinas (Bristol Central) dec. Marcelius Ruiz (Xavier), 2-1
220 Joshua Foote (Amity) dec. Roark Ryan (East Lyme/Norwich Tech), 3-2
285 Nicholas St. peter (Bristol Eastern) dec. D’Sean Martin (Simsbury), 3-2
Consolation finals, 3rd place
106 William Hamilton (Bristol Central) dec. Cael Finn (Simsbury), 14-5
113 Jake Coniglio (New Milford) pin Joseph Mastroianni (Pomperaug), 4:09
120 Colin Loria (Xavier) dec. David Jutcawitz (Pomperaug), 6-2
126 Aaron Morocho (Bristol Eastern) dec. Karriem Hoe (Bristol Central), 8-0
132 Jason Feto (Bristol Central) pin Dylan Sassu (Middletown), 2:56
138 Thomas Nichols (Bristol Eastern) dec. Quin Rogers (E.O. Smith), 9-2
145 Melakai Maddox (Fitch) pin Julian Dematteo (Bunnell), 2:09
152 Alexander Marshall (Bristol Eastern) dec. Noah Pryzbek (Simsbury), 11-0
160 Kody Talento (Maloney) dec. Giovanni Andino (Farmington), 7-5, OT
170 Tyler Coiro (Simsbury) pin Rocky Mayer (Daniel Hand), 4:05
182 Ryan Guilfoyle (Simsbury) dec. Marcus Nieves (Wethersfield), 7-5
195 Nicholas Thompson (Wethersfield) dec. Jacob Toth (Middletown), 9-4
220 Frank Guilfoyle (Simsbury) dec. Michael Reddick (Xavier), 6-4
285 Malcom Wilson-toliver (Xavier) dec. Eric Facey (Bristol Central), 3-1
5TH PLACE
106 Jake Laurie (Wethersfield) dec. Colin Boufford (Amity), 6-5
113 Xavier Reid (Harding) dec. Jeremiah Irizary (East Lyme/Norwich Tech), 6-2
120 Ryan Mclaughlin (Bunnell) forfeit over Jacob Aldi (Bristol Central)
126 Maximus Piel (New Milford) dec. Gehad Saleh (Maloney), 8-4
132 Brian Beirne (Daniel Hand) dec. Cameron Cruz (Bristol Eastern), 12-6
138 Giovanni Imme (Xavier) pin Xavien Reid (Harding), 0:58
145 Liam Keylock (Amity) dec. Jacob Zotti (Newington), 4-2
152 Matthew Duquette (Bristol Central) pin Aidan Gilchrist (Pomperaug), 1:21
160 Andrew Oken (Simsbury) forfeit over Naszier Matthews (Fitch)
170 Ryan Miner (Xavier) dec. Matthew Benevento (New Canaan), 5-3
182 Nick Demanche (Bunnell) dec. Corey Filewich (East Lyme/Norwich Tech), 9-3
195 Jack Cunningham (Simsbury) pin Darnell Benoit (Harding), 1:27
220 Max Usmanov (Newington) forfeit over Darel Rivera Rodriguez (Maloney)
285 Benjamin Clay (New Canaan) pin Andrew Coscia (Amity), 1:38
Outstanding wrestler: Giuseppe Iamunno (120), North Haven
Brackets and results (FloWrestling.com)

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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