DANBURY – For just the third time in state history, a wrestler has been named the state wrestler of the year twice. Danbury’s Ryan Jack (138 pounds) was named the state wrestler of the year in balloting by state wrestling coaches.
Jack joins his older brother, Kevin, a two-time state wrestler of the year in 2013 and 2014 and Danbury’s Charlie Costanzo, a two-time state wrestler of the year in 2009 and 2010.
Jack would have received his award at the annual Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) All-State banquet in Southington but it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
To help reduce the spread of the contagious virus, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has issued a series of executive orders ordering people to stay at home, if possible, and limiting the size of social gatherings to five people or less.
More than 50 wrestlers in Class LL, L, M and S earned All-State honors by winning their respective state championship meets. Joel Barlow’s Carson LiCastri won his fourth consecutive state championship with his victory at the Class M meet at 195 pounds.
Jack also won his fourth straight Class LL title – just the second wrestler in state history to win four consecutive Class LL titles. Jack (37-1) battled injuries throughout the season to his shoulder and elbow but rolled through the post-season. He won a fourth straight FCIAC title, captured a Class LL title and became just the third wrestler in state history to win four State Open championships.
The last wrestler to win four Open titles was Somers’ Brendan Harris 22 years ago in 1998.
At the New England championships, Jack became just the second wrestler in state history to win three New England titles and earned an automatic induction into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame with his victory at 138 pounds.
Four coaches were selected as state coaches of the year – Danbury’s Ricky Shook (Class LL), Xavier’s Mike Cunningham (Class L), Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Matthew Mangelli (Class M) and Killingly’s Rich Bowen (Class S).
It was the ninth time that Shook was won the award and the fourth time that Cunningham was received the award.
The four men who were honored with assistant coach of the year awards were Danbury’s Keith Lynch (Class LL), Xavier’s Kareem Small (Class L), Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Bill Taggert (Class M) and Killingly’s Ron Labeef (Class S).
The team of the year is Danbury. The Hatters (16-0) won their second straight New England championship and have won the tournament three times in the last four years. They won the State Open title for the fourth straight year and captured the Class LL championship for the fifth consecutive season.
With their undefeated season, Danbury extended their own state record to 12 undefeated and untied seasons. It was their first undefeated season since 2016. Danbury has been named team of the year for four consecutive seasons.
Seven wrestlers were named to the Academic All-State team. The award recognizes seniors in good standing at their schools and members of the All-State team in wrestling. Candidates also need to score at least 1,200 on the SAT and/or at least 26 on the ACT.
The ten girls who won their respective weight classes at the first CIAC Girls Invitational were also honored as All-State athletes. Bristol Eastern’s Ella Nichols was the outstanding wrestler at the Girls Invitational meet.
All-State banquet programs