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With 7 individual champs, Suffield/Windsor Locks wins first title since 2007

Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Ghassan Saleh (top) battles Canton’s Jack Freedenberg in Saturday’s NCCC Tournament final at 132 pounds. Saleh won to earn his second straight NCCC championship. More tournament photos

SUFFIELD, February 15, 2020 – It was about three weeks ago when the Suffield/Windsor Locks wrestling team dropped their first North Central Connecticut Conference dual meet of the season to Canton, losing by 18 points.

It left Stafford with the best path to the league championship. The Wildcats needed to win their final four NCCC matches, including a win over Stafford, which was undefeated in the league at the time. And the Wildcats had to also capture the NCCC Tournament, something they hadn’t accomplished since 2007.

Suffield/Windsor Locks ended the regular season with a 24-point win over Stafford that left the Wildcats, Stafford and Canton with 6-1 records in the NCCC. The winner of the league tournament would capture the league championship.

Suffield/Windsor Locks got the job done in a dominant fashion Saturday. The Wildcats had eight finalists and seven brought home NCCC championships as Suffield/Windsor Locks won their first NCCC title since 2007 with a 186-156½ win over defending champion Canton.

The Warriors also had eight wrestlers in the finals and went head-to-head with Suffield in four weight classes with the Wildcats winning them all.

“It’s been a good climb and we’re peaking at the end (of the season), which is the goal,” Suffield/Windsor Locks coach Matt Mangelli said. “We got over a lot of sickness, a few injuries and everyone has begun to come together with a common goal to shoot for.”

Seniors Joseph Nieroda (113), Dylan Washburn (152) and Matthew Raine (160) each won individual championships for the Wildcats (15-4, 6-1 NCCC). “I have a good group of seniors,” Mangelli said. “They were always right on the edge in the last four years. We always kinda missed out on the NCCC and it’s great to (win).”

Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Matthew Raine (160) has Canton’s Nate Biega on his back in Saturday’s NCCC championship meet in Suffield. Raine won by pin. More tournament photos

Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Daniel Taggart outlasted Canton’s Ethan Titus, 8-6, in the finals at 106 pounds and outstanding wrestler honors. A year ago, it was Titus, who had beaten Taggert by seven points in the NCCC finals.

Suffield’s Luke Plano (119), Zachary Johns (126) and Ghassan Saleh (132) also brought home NCCC titles. For Johns and Saleh, it was their second consecutive league title.

Canton (15-11, 6-1 NCCC) had won the last three NCCC Tournaments and had eight finalists. Only Austin Kilduff (170) and Christopher Dinneen (195) won individual titles. But it was a steady climb, too, for the Warriors, who won ten of the final 11 dual meets, including that victory over Suffield/Windsor Locks, 45-27, on January 25.

“This group came together better than I had thought when the season began,” Canton coach Josh Bristol said. The Warriors lost eight starters from last year’s varsity lineup. Yet, they were in position to contend for another league championship.

“I feel first (place) was within our grasp and we let it slip through,” Bristol said. “But it’s not due to any one person. We had a couple of guys who I think could have placed one spot higher (in their respective weight classes).”

Somers’ Cooper Barrett (145) has Granby’s Owen Bogli on his back in Saturday’s NCCC championship finals. Barrett won the match in OT, 12-10. More tournament photos

But on this afternoon, there was no denying Suffield/Windsor Locks.

“Suffield wrestled phenomenally,” Bristol said. “They did everything well. My hats off to them they deserve it.”

Stafford (8-4, 6-1 NCCC) finished third, led by junior Tristian Julian (138), who won his third straight NCCC championship. Granby, led by Devin Flagg who won a NCCC title at 220 pounds was fourth.

Somers, with only six wrestlers in the tournament, finished fifth and had three individual champions. Somers’ Cooper Barrett (145) beat Granby’s Owen Bogli with a takedown in overtime, 12-10 while teammate Linards Bekeris pinned top-seeded Connor Clement of Canton in the final at 182 pounds in 3:55.

Somers’ junior Dominic Zaccalo won by pin to capture his third straight NCCC championship at 285 pounds.

To determine the league championship, teams earn one point for every NCCC team they beat in the regular season and a ½ point for each team they beat at the league championship meet.

Suffield/Windsor Locks won the NCCC Tournament on Saturday to clinch their first NCCC championship since 2007. More tournament photos

NCCC championships
At Suffield
Team results – 1. Suffield/Windsor Locks 186, 2. Canton 159½, 3. Stafford 116, 4. Granby 90½, 5. Somers 80, 6. Portland 71, 7. Coventry 47, 8. Rockville 44
Individual results 
106: Final – Daniel Taggart (Suffield) dec. Ethan Titus (Canton), 8-6; 3. Griffin Shafer (Portland) pin William DePault (Stafford) 1:27
113: Final – Joseph Nieroda (Suffield) pin Naveen Rodriguez (Coventry), 0:44; 3. Matthew Ginz (Granby) pin Ethan Dean (Portland), 1:50
119: Final – Luke Plano (Suffield) dec. Spencer Rosado (Portland), 11-6; 3. Tanner Hammond (Somers) dec. Sabrina Sedor (Stafford), 12-0
126: Final – Zachary Johns (Suffield) dec. Matt Webb (Canton), 11-2; 3. Samuel O’Neil (Granby) pin Mark Gardiner (Rockville) 2:29
132: Final – Ghassan Saleh (Suffield) pin Jack Freedenberg (Canton), 3:19; 3. Cole Nodden (Coventry) dec. Andrew Johnson (Portland), 6-5
138: Final – Tristan Julian (Stafford) pin Ryker Bahre (Canton), 1:10; 3. Luke Dlugolenski (Granby) pin Connor Bly (Suffield), 4:53
145: Final – Cooper Barrett (Somers) dec. Owen Bogli (Granby), 12-10, OT; 3. Caleb Ives (Stafford) pin Mack Toomey (Portland), 4:23
152: Final – Dylan Washburn (Suffield) dec. David Ives (Stafford), 6-3; 3. Mark Freedenberg (Canton) pin Devon Nguyen (Rockville), 1:39
160: Final – Matthew Raine (Suffield) pin Nate Biega (Canton), 1:22; 3. Kyler MacKinnon (Rockville) pin Mike Sedor (Stafford), 2:21
170: Final –Austin Kilduff (Canton) pin Tommy Bean (Stafford) 1:22; 3. Quincy Miller (Coventry) pin Brody Grecula (Canton), 4:23
182: Final –Linards Bekeris (Somers) pin Connor Clement (Canton) 3:55; 3. Arkam Rehman (Coventry) pin Colin Rechenberg (Suffield), 1:30
195: Final –Christopher Dinneen (Canton) pin Derek Davis (Stafford), 4:56
220: Final –Devin Flagg (Granby) pin Will Robb (Suffield), 5:20; 3. Hunter Ogren (Rockville) pin Ashton Oakliff (Portland), 1:45
285: Final –Dominic Zaccalo (Somers) pin Krisjin Thompson (Granby), 3:54; 3. Logan Haynes (Canton)

2020 NCCC wrestling final standings

Team NCCC Pts Overall
xy-Suffield/Windsor Locks 6-1 9.5 15-4
Canton 6-1 9 15-11
Stafford 6-1 8.5 8-4
Granby 3-4 5 7-14
Somers 3-4 4.5 3-4
Portland 3-4 4 8-15
Coventry 1-6 1.5 2-11
Rockville 0-7 0 2-17
x-won league championship
y-won league tournament
Teams earn one point for each NCCC win and a ½ point for each team they beat at the league championship meet.


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

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