METHUEN, Mass., March 8, 2020 – Connecticut has been participating in the New England wrestling championship meet since 1987. In the first 29 years that Nutmeg States competed in the six-state event, Connecticut teams won just twice (1990, 1992) and brought home the second place trophy four times.
It’s a new age for Connecticut wrestling at the New England championships. State champion Danbury won their third New England championship in four years on Sunday with Ryan Jack winning his third New England championship and three Hatter teammates winning medals for finishing in the top six of their weight class.
Danbury scored 82½ points for a comfortable 9½ win over Essex, Vt., with 71 points – their best finish ever in the tournament. Bishop Hendricken of Warwick, R.I., was third with 70 points while Vermont champion Mt. Anthony Union of Bennington, Vt., was fourth with 58 points.
Joel Barlow tied for eighth place with 50 points while Fairfield Warde and New Milford earned top 20 finishes. Warde was 14th with 44 points with New Milford finishing 19th with 36 points.
Earlier on Sunday, Danbury had a slight 1½ point lead on Essex and finished the semifinals with a 4½ lead. That lead swelled to 12½ by the time the final medal round began.
Jack became just the second wrestler in state history to win three New England championships and was immediately installed into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame. DJ Donovan went 5-2 and finished fourth with Kai O’Dell (5-2, 113) taking fifth and Tyler Johnson (126) finishing sixth.
Tyrell Jones was 2-2 with a pin while Logan Kovacs (145) and Jordan Agosto (285) each picked up a win. Only Jaylen Hawkins (170) failed to secure a win. He was leading by six points, 8-2, in his first match of the day on Saturday before getting hurt and had to withdraw.
“It was obviously a total team effort,” Danbury High coach Ricky Shook said. “(On Saturday), we had three pins -two with 12 or less second in the match. I knew by our draws, we would have wrestlers in the wrestlebacks (consolation round) and I tried to prepare them for that.”
Donovan pinned a wrestler with 35 seconds remaining in the second period, Jones pinned a wrestler with 12 seconds left and O’Dell pinned a wrestler with four seconds left in the bout. “Instead of three points from those matches, we got nine (for pins),” Shook said.
“All of the guys who were here contributed,” he said.
Jack (37-1) dominated Mike Glynn of Central Catholic in Lawrence, Mass., 11-2 in the final. “Saturday, I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to,” Jack said. “Coming into (Sunday), I knew if I wrestled the way I should, no one would come close to me and that is what I did in these final two matches (of the tournament).
New Canaan’s Tyler Sung (20-0) won his second New England championship with a 6-3 win over Aidan Faria of Cumberland, R.I.
“It’s tough to wrestle him,” New Canaan coach Bobby Rushton said. “He is very good on this feet and he controls people (when he) is on top. He was in complete control in this tournament and had a lot of confidence coming in. We’re proud of him.”
Sung beat New Hampshire’s Anson Dewar of Merrimack in the semifinals, 8-2 and outlasted Faria, the Rhode Island champion in the final.
Sung missed most of the season, wrestling just five matches before the postseason tournaments began. He had a knee injury early in the season and once he was ready to go in late January, his mother passed away.
“I am happy, very, very happy,” Sung said. “I had the same game plan I always have. Get in there and work my stuff don’t play by their game. It really showed. Wrestle smart and it paid off.”
Gilbert’s Devin Matthews (132), the first Yellowjacket to win a medal at the New England tournament and earn a spot in the finals, lost to undefeated senior Mason Clarke of Coventry, R.I., 5-3. Joel Barlow’s Josh Brault dropped a 10-5 decision to Burlington twin Zach Soda at 106 pounds. Soda’s brother Cameron went out a few minutes later and won the New England title at 113 pounds.
Matthews (47-2) pinned Vermont champion Sam Worthing of Fair Haven in the quarterfinals in 2:38 and beat Massachusetts champion Kaya Bogle of Hingham in the semifinals, 8-3. In the finals, Matthews struggled to get a takedown against Clarke, who outlasted Simsbury’s Ty Finn in the semifinals, 1-0.
“He had a low stance to he stayed in good position all the time,” Matthews said. “Every time I shot, he blocked me.”
Still, it was a historic tournament for the senior. “This is definitely something special,” he said. “I feel good how I wrestled.” Matthews shook off a slow start in his first match of the tournament, holding for a 3-2 win over Calvin Curtis of West Springfield, Mass.
Matthews’ twin brother, Kyle, also wrestled in the tournament going 3-2 and falling one win shy of a medal.
“It was a great four years with those guys,” Gilbert coach Darek Schibi said of the Matthew brothers and five other seniors on the team. The Yellowjackets won their first-ever state title in 2019, two Berkshire League championships and three Berkshire Valley tournament titles. They had four consecutive winning seasons that included a school-record 26 wins and a 26-3 record in 2019.
Brault (47-1) beat New Hampshire champion Sam Wagner of Concord in the quarterfinals by pin (1:50) before outlasting Jimmy Glynn of Central Catholic High in Lawrence, Mass., in the semifinals, 4-2. A reversal with 1:00 left in the third period was the difference.
Seven Connecticut wrestlers finished third – Avon’s Chris Gens (220), Joel Barlow’s Carson LiCastri (195), Fairfield Prep’s Dean Tsiranides (160), Xavier’s James Lunt (145), Simsbury’s Ty Finn (132), Hall’s Drew Currier (120) and Trumbull’s Michael Longo (106).
Fairfield Warde’s Cole Shaughnessy (152) and Danbury’s D.J. Donovan (220) each finished fourth.
New Milford’s Evan Lindner (106), Danbury’s Kai O’Dell (113), Tyler Johnson (126), New Milford freshman Khalil Bourjelli (138), Lyman Memorial’s Ryan Powers (170) and Northwestern’s Jamikael Lytle (195) each finished fifth with East Hampton’s Dylan Levesque (120), Trumbull’s Jack Ryan (132), Bristol Eastern’s Tommy Nichols (138) and Southington’s Billy Carr (182) earning a sixth place medal.
Seven CT wrestlers capture third place medals
Gens (47-1) didn’t practice all week leading up to the New England tournament because he was out sick with the flu. He got himself to school on Friday so he would be eligible to compete and got through a workout. “I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to wrestle,” said Gens, who had two OT victories in his five wins in the tournament.
Gens battled with Rhode Island champion Cam Bailey (220) in the semifinals. “It was down to the last drop of sweat, fighting, fighting for six minutes and then it went to OT,” Gens said. Gens prevailed with a takedown 12 seconds into the extra session for the win.
Gens dropped his first match of the season in the semifinals when Maine champion Jeffrey Worster of Oxford Hills got a decisive takedown with 33 seconds left in a 5-3 victory.
Gens won his final two matches of the tournament including a 13-4 win over Donovan in the consolation final. Donovan won five straight consolation round bouts to get to the third place match.
After winning the New England championship a year ago, LiCastri (35-1) finished third at 195 pounds. The senior from Joel Barlow missed three weeks and the SCC Tournament after suffering a torn meniscus in his knee. He returned for the Class M tournament where he won his fourth straight state championship. He added the State Open title a week later.
LiCastri won his first match with a pin before dropping a 3-2 decision to four-time Vermont champion Sam Wilkins of Mt. Anthony thanks to a third period escape. LiCastri rolled through the consolation round with four straight victories with two pins.
LiCastri outlasted Massachusetts champion Darby McLaughlin of Springfield Central, 5-2, before pinning Northwestern’s Jamikael Lytle in the consolation semifinals. LiCastri pinned Abbas Abdulraham of Concord, N.H., in 2:26 in the consolation final. Lytle (42-3) won his first three matches of the tournament, including a win over Rhode Island champion Nate Marchione of Chariho, 9-4. But Lytle was pinned by New Hampshire champion Connor Maslanek of Pelham in the semfinals.
Fairfield Prep’s Dean Tsiranides (44-3) dropped his first match of the postseason with a loss in the semifinals to Rhode Island champion Nick Fine of Bishop Hendricken. Tsiranides easily won his final two matches with a 13-1 victory in the consolation semifinals and a pin (5:41) of New Hampshire champion Austin Morris of Keene in the consolation final.
Xavier’s James Lunt (49-4) lost his first postseason match with an 8-7 loss to Jake Nicholosi of Haverhill, Mass., thanks to an escape with six seconds left in regulation. But Lunt didn’t drop his head and earned four straight in the consolation round to finish third with an 8-5 win over Rhode Island champion Kyle Merritt of Chariho.
Lunt had a tough 2-0 win over Killingly’s Ben Richardson to remain alive in the tournament and earn a spot in the medal round.
Simsbury’s Saul Pera (145) finished fifth. Pera won his first three bouts, including a win over New Hampshire champion Zach Rioux of Bishop Guertin, 6-5, to earn a spot in the semifinals. But Massachusetts champion Mahari Miller of Springfield Central bounced Pera in the semifinals, 5-2.
At 132 pounds, Simsbury’s Ty Finn (55-3) ran into Mason Clarke of Coventry, R.I., in the semifinals and like Gilbert’s Devin Matthews, Finn couldn’t get a takedown in a 1-0 loss.
“He is really strong and likes to go upper body and tie me up,” Finn said. “It was just hard to get to his legs and setup.” All three of Finn’s losses this season have come from Clarke.
Finn beat Nore Mendes of Weymouth, Mass., in the consolation semifinals, 11-5, before topping Massachusetts champion Kaya Bogle of Hingham in the consolation final, 5-2 and finish third. It was Finn’s second New England medal in three years. He was fourth as a freshman at 106.
Hall’s Drew Carrier (120) finished third to earn a New England medal for the second straight year. He is just the third wrestler in school history to win a medal at the New England tournament.
Currier (52-3) won his first match of the tournament before coming against two-time defending New England champion Hunter Adrian of Melrose, Mass., in the quarterfinals. Adrian, a four-time Massachusetts champion, was the big favorite and had a 4-1 lead after two periods.
Currier escaped with 1:50 left in the third period to cut the lead to two but couldn’t get a takedown. Currier got a point for stalling in the final seconds to trim the lead to 4-3.
After losing to Adrian, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler, Currier won four straight matches to finish third. In the consolation final, he got a reversal with five seconds left to beat Rhode Island champion Joziah Fry of Coventry, 5-4.
It was the another last-second loss for Fry in the tournament. In the semifinals, Fry had an 8-5 lead over Adrian with 1:36 left in the third period but lost when Adrian got a takedown with 12 seconds remaining for an emotional 11-10 victory. Fry was a defending New England champion after winning at 106 a year ago.
At 106, Trumbull’s Michael Longo finished third. Longo beat Jimmy Glynn of Central Catholic in nearby Lawrence, Mass., in the consolation final, 7-2. Two of Longo’s five wins were by pin.
Making the most of your chance
New Milford freshman Khalil Bourjelli (138) took advantage of his opportunity to wrestle at the New England tournament to earn a fifth place medal. Bourjelli was sixth at the State Open but got an opportunity to compete when Stafford’s Tristan Julian, who was third in Connecticut, didn’t wrestle.
Three straight wins but Bourjelli into the semifinals. He got a takedown with 14 seconds left in regulation to win his opening match over Rawson Iwanicki of St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass., 5-4. In his next match, Bourjelli beat Maine champion Jackson Sutherland of Mattanawcook/Lee in triple OT, 6-1. Tied at 1-1, Bourjelli got a reversal and near fall with 17 seconds left to secure the upset win.
In the quarterfinals, Bourjelli (39-7) beat Justin Hood of Ponagansett, R.I., 11-5 to earn a spot in the semifinals. But the run ended with a 18-2 tech fall loss to Danbury’s Ryan Jack.
2020 New England championships
At Meuthen, Mass.
Top 25 team results and Connecticut teams – 1. Danbury 82½, 2. Essex, VT 71, 3. Bishop Hendricken-Warwick RI 70, 4. Mt. Anthony Union-Bennington VT 58, 5. Coventry RI 53, 6. Springfield (MA) Central 52½, 7. Burlington, MA 52, 8. Joel Barlow and Nashoba Valley Technical-Westford MA 50, 10. Salem NH 49, 11. Ponaganset-Scituate RI 48, 12. Melrose MA 46, 13. Central Catholic-Lawrence MA 45½, 14. Fairfield Warde 44, 15. Chariho, RI and Xavier 42, 17. Cumberland, RI and Haverhill MA 39, 19. New Milford 36, 20. Woburn, MA 35½, 21. Pinkerton Academy-Derry NH 33, 22. Gilbert 32, 23. Danvers, MA and Trumbull 31½, 25. Concord NH 30½
Other Connecticut teams: 26. Simsbury 30; t33. New Canaan 24, t43. Fairfield Prep, Hall, Holliston MA 19; t46. Agawam, MA; Avon, St. Johnsbury, VT 17, 51. Killingly 15, t58. Southington, Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech, Northwestern and Newtown North, MA 13; t65. Bristol Eatern, East Hampton and Milford NH 11; t68. North Haven and North Kingstown RI 10½, t70. Glastonbury 10, t73. Amity and Ledyard 9; T78. New Britain, Shelton and Wethersfield 8; t88. Haddam Killingworth and Suffield/Windsor Locks 7; t96. Westhill 6; t99. East Lyme/Norwich Tech and New London; t107. Foran and Greenwich 4; t122. Middeltown 2; t128. Brookfield; t130. Bristol Central 0
Final: Zachary Soda (Burlington MA) dec. Josh Brault Joel Barlow), 10-5
3. Michael Longo (Trumbull) dec. Jimmy Glynn (Central Catholic-Lawrence MA), 7-2
5. Evan Lindner (New Milford) forfeit over Isiac Paulino (Montachusett Regional-Fitchburg MA)
Final: Cameron Soda (Burlington MA) dec. Evan Kinney (Chelmsford MA), 4-3
3. Michael Rapuano (Xavier) dec. Nicholas Curley (Saint John’s Prep-Danvers MA), 15-5
5. Kail O’Dell (Danbury) dec. Ben Davoli (Haverhill MA), 4-2 OT
Final: Hunter Adrian (Melrose MA) dec. Calvin Dalton (Salem MA), 3-2
3. Drew Currier (Hall) dec. Joziah Fry (Coventry RI), 5-4
5. Ian Darling (Masconomet Regional-Boxford MA) dec. Dylan Levesque (East Hampton), 11-9
Final: Maximillian Leete (Danvers MA) dec. Michael Joyce (Ponaganset- Scituate RI), 6-2
3. Andrew Fallon (Bishop Hendricken-Warwick RI) dec. John Lafferty (Woburn MA), 14-5
5. Hunter Verge (St. Johnsbury, VT) dec. Tyler Johnson (Danbury), 9-6
Final: Mason Clarke (Coventry RI) dec. Devin Matthews (Gilbert), 5-3
3. Ty Finn (Simsbury) dec. Kaya Bogle (Hingham MA), 5-2
5. Nore Mendes (Weymouth MA) dec. Jack Ryan (Trumbull), 5-3
Final: Ryan Jack (Danbury) dec. Mike Glynn (Central Catholic-Lawrence MA), 11-2
3. Josh Sharron (Newport, NH) dec. Keegan Coon (Mt. Anthony, VT), 6-4
5. Khalil Bourjelli (New Milford) forfeit over Tommy Nichols (Bristol Eastern)
Final: Jake Nicolosi (Haverhill MA) dec. Mahari Miller (Springfield Central MA), 3-2
3. James Lunt (Xavier) dec. Kyle Merritt (Chariho RI), 8-5
5. Saul Pera (Simsbury) dec. William Ebert (Fairfield Warde), 6-3
Final: Tyler Sung (New Canaan) dec. Aidan Faria (Cumberland, RI), 6-3
3. Sean Herbert (Melrose, MA) dec. Cole Shaughnessy (Fairfield Warde), 8-2
5. Anson Dewar (Merrimack, NH) dec. Mark Ward (Mt. View, ME), 6-2
Final: Brevin Cassella (Nashoba Valley MA) pin Nicholas Fine Warwick, (Bishop Hendricken-Warwick RI), 2:19
3. Dean Tsiranides (Fairfield Prep) pin Austin Morris (Keene NH), 5:41
5. Noah Hernandez (Massabesic, ME) dec. Jack MacKiernan (Pinkerton Academy, Derry NH), 4-2
Final: Seth Carney (Essex, VT) dec. Kyle Gora (Alvirne, NH), 3-1
3. Joshua Cordio (Nashoba Valley MA) dec. James Dougherty (Chariho, RI), 11-4
5. Ryan Powers (Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech) dec. Ben Laurence (Mt. Ararat-Brunswick, ME), 6-5
Final: James Danis (Essex, VT) dec. Sterling McLaughlin (Pinkerton Academy, Derry NH), 7-3
3. Cory Grifka (Mt. Hope, RI) dec. Spencer Fetrow (Holliston, MA), 7-0
5. David Langlois (Woburn, MA) pin Billy Carr (Southington), 3:47
Final: Sam Wilkins (Mt. Anthony, VT) dec. Conor Maslanek (Pelham, NH), 3-2, 3 OT
3. Carson Licastri (Joel Barlow) pin Abbas Abdulrahman (Concord, NH), 2:26
5. Jamikael Lytle (Northwestern) forfeit over Declan Griffin (Newton North, MA)
Final: Beau Dillon (Salem NH) dec. Jeffrey Worster (Oxford Hills, ME), 3-2
3. Christopher Gens (Avon) dec. DJ Donovan (Danbury), 13-4
5. Griffin Ostrom (Merrimack, NH) dec. Joao Neiva (Milford, MA), 15-4
Final: Dylan Chandler (Tewksbury, MA) dec. Tyrek Williams (New Bedford, MA), 6-1
3. Adolfo Betancur (Bishop Hendricken-Warwick RI) dec. Tristan Kemp (Quabbin, MA), 5-1
5. Antonio Ramos (Agawam, MA) pin Josh Ozoria (Salem NH), 5:57
Outstanding final (as selected by the referees): 113 pounds
Outstanding wrestler: Hunter Adrian, Melrose, MA (120)
Brackets and results (FloWrestling.com)