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Staples rallies to top No. 6 Foran for title; Dominant win for No. 10 East Hartford

The Staples High wrestling team celebrates after winning the John Chacho Duals with a win in the final match against No. 6 Foran on Saturday. (Photo courtesy Leigh Busby)

With rising infections of COVID-19 and season illnesses, it has been a challenge for teams to maintain a full lineup and it’s been no different at Staples High in Westport.

The Wreckers had no practices for a week after Christmas and wrestlers are still in various stages of eligibility due to contract tracing or a positive COVID test.

But fourth year coach Fred Mills sees some normalcy returning. His Wreckers rallied to beat No. 6 Foran on Saturday, 37-33, in the championship match of the John Chacho Duals at Staples.

After Foran had won four of the last five matches to tie the bout at 33-33, Staples junior Gavin Zahler won his first varsity match with a 6-2 win over Foran’s Adrian Cruz at 120 pounds in the final match of the bout to give the Wreckers the championship.

“It was a great way to finish the day and it gave us a little feeling of normalcy,” Mills said. “They’re practicing again and wrestling tournaments. Any type of flow you can get into to help you prepare is good.”

Along with victories over Fairfield Prep, Brookfield and East Lyme/Norwich Tech earlier in the tournament, Staples was 4-0 on Saturday and improved to 6-0. “We’ve tried to piece things together,” Mills said. “We’ve had a lot of new kids that have had to contribute.”

Oliver D’Anna (132), Eamon Brannigan (138), Noah Fraas (160), Alex Von Seggern Fiala (170) and Nicholas Augeri (220) had pins for the Wreckers against Foran, now 11-2.

With six weight classes remaining, Staples had staked themselves out to a 27-15 lead but Foran’s Eliot Poffenberger (195) picked up three points with a decision at 195. Augeri won by pin at 220 to give the Wreckers a 33-18 lead but Foran’s Jason Cruz (285) and Keith Pokornowski (106) won with pins and Mason Hallstrom (113) won with a decision to tie the bout at 33-33.

No. 9 Newtown, which fell to Foran, 48-27 in pool play, finished third with a 41-33 win over Fairfield Prep.

Staples won the tournament for the third straight year.

The tournament is named in honor of Chacho, a long-time wrestling coach and official. He spent nearly 50 years in the sport coaching wrestling at the youth, junior varsity and varsity levels. He was the head coach at Staples for six seasons and his Wreckers won a FCIAC championship in 1985. He was inducted into the Connecticut chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2013.

Saturday, January 15, 2022 results and boxscores

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The East Hartford High wrestling team celebrates after their record-setting win at the Greater Hartford Open Saturday in West Hartford.

No. 10 East Hartford had 11 wrestlers in the finals and came home with six individual championships as the Hornets dominated at the 18th Greater Hartford Open at Hall in West Hartford. The Hornets won the event for the first time since 2005 and had the largest winning margin in tournament history, 124½ points.

East Hartford (6-0) finished with 292 points with Haddam-Killingworth in second place with 168 and Southington finishing third with 164½ points. All 14 Hornet wrestlers finished in the top six of their respective weight classes.

Isaac Quiles (106), Jaeckez Mendez (138), Xavier Quiles (170), Devon Durant (195), Adrian Martin (220) and Michael Warner (285) earned championships for East Hartford.

“We like to take it one day at a time because COVID could come in and wreak havoc on team,” East Hartford coach Todd Albert said. “It’s been very difficult. But every day we can get together and train or have a match or come to a tournament, it is a great day and a I appreciate it. Because you never know what tomorrow will bring.”

Killingly’s Kaden Ware (126) earned Outstanding Wrestler honors for the second consecutive week. Ware beat Ridgefield’s Nathan Blaha in the finals, 5-0 and a week ago, Ware was victorious at the Casey Dane Yates Invitational at Lyman Memorial.

Saturday, January 15, 2022 results and boxscores

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For the second consecutive year, No. 4 Simsbury won the John D. Gorman Memorial Invitational in Cumberland, R.I., with a 225-183 win over North Attleborough, Mass. Simsbury won the tournament in 2020 and it was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Saturday, Simsbury had five finalists and two individual champions – John Mairano (145) and Zach Johns (152). The Trojans had 11 wrestlers finish in the top six of their individual weight classes.

No. 8 New Milford finished sixth with Evan Lindner (126) winning a title for the Green Wave.

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No. 1 Xavier is carrying the flag for Connecticut proudly. The Falcons finished third at the War at the Shore tournament in Berlin, Maryland, finishing behind New Jersey’s Southern Region in Ocean County cand Maryland’s Mount Saint Joes.

Xavier had two finalists and four wrestlers finish third. Jackson Heslin (113) and Anthony Basile (126) each finished second with Kevin Kasperowski (106), Kyle Levesque (120), Dylan Levesque (138) and Charles Weidman (160) each finishing third.

Saturday, January 15, 2022 results and boxscores

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At the Griswold Mid-Season Invitational, Chariho, Rhode Island won the tournament for a record fourth time with a 148½-133 win over Barrington, R.I. Windham was third with 127 pounds.  … Trumbull went undefeated with four victories at the Enfield Duals. Trumbull beat Maloney, Enfield, Longmeadow, Mass., 60-12, and West Springfield, Mass.,43-18.

Branford (15-1) won four matches to win the Art Powers Duals in Berlin for the second time. The Hornets beat host Berlin, 48-28 along with wins over Avon, 65-18, Pomperaug, 42-18 and Bethel, 62-18. Branford won the tournament in 2020. It’s just the fourth time in the tournament’s 33 years that it has been a round-robin tournament.

Danbury’s annual match on Monday with Mt. Anthony Union in Bennington, Vt., has been cancelled due to the forecast of snow and ice.

Saturday, January 15, 2022 results and boxscores

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

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