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Xavier wins second State Open title; Three girls win second state titles

No. 1 Xavier won their second State Open championship and first since 2012 with two individual champions and nine medalists Sunday in New Haven. More photos

NEW HAVEN, Feb. 27, 2022 – Xavier High wrestling coach Mike Cunningham saw the potential for a championship when the season began in December.

But there were plenty of young wrestlers on the roster and the previous season had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic with the exception of non-contact workouts – a challenging way to train for a contact sport.

But the Falcons worked hard. They listened to their coaches and worked harder.

On Sunday, No. 1 Xavier won their second State Open championship with two individual champions and three finalists. The Falcons, who set a CIAC tournament record a week ago while winning the Class L championship, scored 204 points – the second-most points in Open history.

No. 2 Danbury, who had won the last four State Open titles, was second with 145 points while No. 4 Simsbury, with three individual champions, finished third with 135 points – their best-ever finish at the State Open.

The CIAC’s Girls State Championship meet was also held at the Floyd Little Athletic Center on the campus of Hillhouse High in New Haven. Stamford’s Samantha Yap (106), Amity’s Camryn Brown (132) and Bristol Eastern’s Ella Nichols (152) won their second state title. All three won in 2020 when the event debuted.

“It was a lot of hard work,” Xavier coach Mike Cunningham said. “I am thrilled for the guys. Like I said at the Class L meet, they really worked hard and they never complained. They came in (to work) when they had to. Hard work pays off.”

It was Xavier’s first Open championship since 2012. Since team scoring at the Open resumed in 2001, only five teams have brought home State Open titles – Xavier, Danbury, Bacon Academy, Newtown and New Fairfield.

“I thought we had the potential (to be a championship team) but it is still a young group,” Cunningham said. “Half of my team here are freshmen and sophomores. If (the kids) buy into the culture and expectations of the program, which they did, I knew we could have something special.”

Xavier had nine wrestlers earn medals. All nine finished in the top five of their respective weight class and will advance to next weekend’s New England championships in Providence.

With four pins, Simsbury’s Zach Jones won the State Open title at 152 pounds and Outstanding Wrestler honors. More photos

Freshman Jackson Heslin (120) and senior Thomas Lunt (220) won State Open titles while freshman Max Morse (113) finished second. Sophomore Raekwon Shabazz (106) and senior Dylan Levesque (138) each finished third with sophomores Kyle Levesque (126), Anthony Basile (132) and senior Ronan Moynihan (182) each taking fourth. Senior Colin Loria (152) was fifth, earning his invitation to the New England tournament with a pin.

“It feels good,” Cunningham said of the championship. “It’s been a long time. When you can take it, get it. You never know if this time will come again. You can never count on next year. We learned a valuable lesson from COVID. There isn’t always a next year.”

Heslin, a freshman from Marlborough, outlasted Canton senior Ethan Titus, 4-1, with a takedown late in the second period and another one late in the third period. Heslin (21-1) came into the season with big expectations on his shoulders considering he won a gold medal in freestyle and a silver medal in Greco-Roman with Team USA at the Under-15 Pan Am Games in October.

Heslin didn’t think he wrestled as well as he could over the weekend with his first time at the State Open with all of the attention of the state wrestling community in one big gym on one day.

“I wrestled smart in all of my matches and didn’t do anything stupid which was good,” he said. “But I can definitely wrestle better. I am working on my mental state for next weekend.”

Heslin and his sister, Emma, a senior at RHAM, became the first siblings to win State Open championships on the same day. Emma Heslin won the 99 pound weight class in the Girls State Championship meet. While the girls meet has a different name, it is essentially the same type of event – an open tournament for athletes from schools of all sizes in Connecticut.

Lunt (41-4) beat Stratford’s James Duhancik, 9-6. Tied at 3-3 after one period, Lunt added another three points in the second period on an escape, takedown and penalty point on Duhancik to take a three-point lead. A takedown with 1:07 left in the match gave Lunt a 9-4 lead.

Simsbury brought home State Open champions in three consecutive weight classes – John Mairano (145), Zach Johns (152) and Chad Mairano (160).

John Mairano (43-0) remained undefeated with a 5-3 win over Killingly’s Jack Richardson in the final. Johns (33-2) pinned Waterford’s Mason Concascia in 4:26 in the championship bout for his fourth pin of the tournament. Johns was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler.

And Chad Mairano (33-6), who finished fourth a week earlier at the Class L championship meet, won five matches including a 5-3 win over Suffield/Windsor Lock’s Joshua Nieroda to win an Open title. Chad Mairano got a takedown and a two-point near fall in the final 18 seconds to win the title.

“The boys wrestled their tails off today,” Simsbury coach T.J. Silva said. “They really came out and competed. They came here to wrestle. Zach and John did what they’ve done all year – dominant. We told Chad all week that no one remembers what happened at the Ls if you go win the Open. He went and won the Open.”

With a pin, New Milford’s Evan Lindner , left in white singlet, remained undefeated and won his first State Open championship. More photos

Danbury, the Class LL co-champions, finished second, led by a State Open championship from Kai O’Dell at 138 pounds with a 16-5 win over Montville’s James Chapman. The Hatters had six wrestlers win medals and five will advance to the New England championships. Logan Kovacs (145) and Nuh Ajdinoski (285) each finished third.

New Fairfield’s Joe Mahoney (106) won a title with a 12-6 win over East Hartford freshman Isaac Quiles, 12-6 before Avon junior Isaiah Adams (113) won his first Open championship with a 8-1 win over Xavier freshman Max Morse.

New Milford’s Evan Lindner (126) remained undefeated (31-0) with a pin over Killingly’s Kaden Ware as the match expired. It was the first loss of the season for Ware (43-1).

Ledyard’s Connor Doran (132) pinned Fairfield Prep’s William Smith in 3:49 to improve to 36-1 on the season.

At 170 pounds, Fairfield Warde’s Will Ebert (41-0) beat East Hartford’s Xavier Quiles, 17-3 to win a title while Fairfield Prep’s Connor Smith pinned East Hartford’s Sammy Montovani in 2:22 to win at 182 pounds.

Undefeated Christopher Murphy of Guilford (31-0) pinned Haddam-Killingworth’s Samuel Young in 4:52 in the final at 195 pounds while Shelton’s Matt Weiner (25-0) pinned New Fairfield’s Doug Traynor in the final at 285 pounds.

In the Girls State Championship Meet , Yap (106) beat Somers’ Taylor McCormick in the final, 9-3. At 113, Brien McMahon’s Calli Gilchrist shut out Berlin’s Christianna Morley, 9-0. Gilchrist is ranked No. 23 in the country at 112 pounds.

In the final at 120 pounds, Bethel’s Esther Ribeiro got a takedown with 17 seconds left in the first period and that was enough in a 2-0 win over Stafford’s Sabrina Sedor. Norwalk’s Rylee Donohue (126) blanked Amity’s Emily DeSouza, 7-0 to win her first state title.

In the most competitive bout of the finals, two defending champions faced off for the title with Amity’s Camryn Brown (132) outlasting Ledyard’s Linda Holeman, 1-0. Brown got an escape with 1:56 left in the third period and made it stand up.

Brown came into the match ranked No. 21 in the country at 127 and Holeman outlasted Pomperaug’s Julianna Morris, who is ranked No. 5 in the country at 127, in the semifinals, 3-0.

Brown said she had to stay focused the entire match. “If I messed up on one thing, it would have been over for me,” she said. “I had to keep my mind in the zone for all six minutes or (Holeman) would have won.”

Foran’s Kelly Aspras pinned Wethersfield’s Brooke Arnold to win the title at 138 pounds.

Bristol Eastern’s Ella Nichols won her second state title with a pin at 152 pounds. More photos

Bristol Eastern’s Ella Nichols (152) won her second state championship with a pin of New Haven’s Alexandria Gorman in 1:12. Nichols, who was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler, won all three of her matches in less than two minutes with pins in 33 seconds, 19 seconds and 1:12.

Nichols is currently ranked ninth in the country at 152 pounds.

“It feels good to be here with family and show all of these girls who are watching that this could be them. (Wrestling) is the new thing and it is growing,” Nichols said.

She also wore a custom-made top for the final. “They asked me if I wanted (the color) pink in it and I said, ‘Of course, I want pink,” Nichols said with a laugh.

At 170 pounds, Guilford’s Brianna Seixas got a takedown with 47 seconds remaining to turn a one-point lead into a three-point lead and beat Berlin’s Natalia Chorzepa, 11-9. In the final at 235 pounds, Windham’s Caroline Gonzalez-Garcia pinned St. Paul’s Mallory Sefick in 1:28 to win a championship.

While team organizers provided unofficial team scores, there was no team championship awarded in the girls tournament.

2022 State Open
At New Haven
Team Scores: 1. Xavier 204; 2. Danbury 145; 3. Simsbury 135; 4. East Hartford 134½; 5. Fairfield Warde 109; 6. Haddam-Killingworth 84; 7. Killingly 71½; 8. Norwalk 71; 9. New Fairfield 68; 10. Fairfield Prep 66; 11. Trumbull 63; 12. Guilford 56; 13. RHAM 54; 14. New Milford 52; 15. Ridgefield 51½; 16. Branford 50; 17. Newtown 48; 18. Bunnell 47; 19. Southington 42½; 20. Shelton 41; 21. Suffield/Windsor Locks 38; 22. Montville 37; 23. Nonnewaug 35; 23. Stratford 35; 25. Berlin 33; 25. Ledyard 33; 27. Waterford 30; 28. Avon 29; 29. Canton 27½; 30. Brookfield 26; 30. Foran 26; 32. Bristol Central 22; 33. Derby/Oxford/Holy Cross 20; 34. Pomperaug 18½; 35. Maloney 18; 36. Greenwich 17; 37. Norwich Free Academy 16½; 38. Plainville 16; 39. Daniel Hand 15; 39. Fairfield Ludlowe 15; 39. Glastonbury 15; 39. New Canaan 15; 43. Seymour 14; 43. Windham 14; 45. Bacon Academy 13; 46. Manchester 12; 47. Brien McMahon 11½; 48. Bristol Eastern 11; 48. Conard 11; 48. Staples 11; 51. EO Smith 10; 51. Middletown 10; 51. New London 10; 54. Platt 9; 54. Weston 9; 56. East Lyme/Norwich Tech 8; 56. Farmington 8; 56. Portland 8; 56. Stafford 8; 60. Ellis Tech 7; 60. Hall 7; 60. New Britain 7; 63. Morgan 6; 63. Somers 6; 63. Wethersfield 6; 66. Cromwell 5; 66. Granby 5; 66. South Windsor 5; 69. Bethel 4; 69. Griswold/Wheeler 4; 69. Joel Barlow 4; 69. Jonathan Law 4; 69. New Haven 4; 69. Notre Dame-West Haven 4; 69. Rocky Hill 4; 69. Woodland 4; 77. Old Lyme 3; 78. East Haven 2; 78. Lyman Mem/Windham Tech 2
Individual results
106 pounds
Final: Joe Mahoney (New Fairfield) dec. Isaac Quiles (East Hartford), 12-6
3. Raekwon Shabazz (Xavier) pin Deydon Soto (Danbury), 3:55
5. Mason Arborio (Berlin) dec. Ben Fournier (RHAM), 12-4
113 pounds
Final: Isaiah Adams (Avon) dec. Maximus Morse (Xavier), 8-1
3. Dominick Spadaro (Fairfield Warde) pin Ethan Wright (Haddam-Killingworth), 2:01
5. Dominic Barrella (Ridgefield) dec. Graham Ziperstein (Shelton), 10-2
120 pounds
Final: Jackson Heslin (Xavier) dec. Ethan Titus (Canton), 4-1
3. William Hamilton (Bristol Central) tech fall Phoenix Gardella (Norwalk), 23-7 4:42
5. Ben Zuckerman (Fairfield Warde) pin Antonio Madero (Foran), 1:33
126 pounds
Final: Evan Lindner (New Milford) pin Kaden Ware (Killingly), 6:00
3. Matthew Carrozza (Brookfield) dec. Kyle Levesque (Xavier), 6-4
5. Josh Howard (Southington) pin Nathan Blaha (Ridgefield), 1:43
132 pounds
Final: Connor Doran (Ledyard) pin William Smith (Fairfield Prep), 3:49
3. Cael Finn (Simsbury) pin Anthony Basile (Xavier), 2:20
5. Jesse Defonce (Danbury) forfeit over Benjamin Gorr (Southington)
138 pounds
Final: Kai O’Dell (Danbury) dec. Blake Chapman (Montville), 16-5
3. Dylan Levesque (Xavier) dec. Jaeckez Mendez (East Hartford), 7-4
5. Thomas Bock (New Fairfield) dec. Marc Maurath (Newtown), 12-0
145 pounds
Final: John Mairano (Simsbury) dec. Jack Richardson (Killingly), 5-3
3. Logan Kovacs (Danbury) tech fall Joseph Kennedy (Plainville), 15-0 3:30
5. Maximus Piel (New Milford) dec. Ghassan Saleh (Suffield/Windsor Locks), 8-3
152 pounds
Final: Zach Johns (Simsbury) pin Mason Concascia (Waterford), 4:26
3. Lucas Coleman (Fairfield Warde) dec. Benjamin Williams (Haddam-Killingworth), 7-4
5. Colin Loria (Xavier) pin Lucas Ferreira (Ridgefield), 0:36
160 pounds
Final: Chad Mairano (Simsbury) dec. Joshua Nieroda (Suffield/Windsor Locks), 5-3
3. Fisher Stites (Newtown) dec. Jeremy Devine (RHAM), 5-3
5. Edward Barlage (Guilford) dec. Alexander Marshall (Bristol Eastern), 4-2 SV
170 pounds
Final: William Ebert (Fairfield Warde) dec. Xavier Quiles (East Hartford), 17-3
3. Jack Wendel (Nonnewaug) pin Ryan Mclaughlin (Bunnell), 0:47
5. Cole Snider (Branford) dec. Jesse Baldwin (Middletown), 7-2
182 pounds
Final: Connor Smith (Fairfield Prep) pin Sammy Montovani (East Hartford), 2:22
3. Ryan Gilchrist (Norwalk) dec. Ronan Moynihan (Xavier), 7-6
5. Anthony Deicicchi (Seymour) pin Corbin Milne (Trumbull), 2:46
195 pounds
Final: Christopher Murphy (Guilford) pin Samuel Young (Haddam-Killingworth), 4:52
3. Brendan Gilchrist (Norwalk) pin Soren Rief (Killingly), 1:59
5. Aethan Munden (Trumbull) pin Jackson Oliver (Staples), 0:31
220 pounds
Final: Thomas Lunt (Xavier) dec. James Duhancik (Stratford), 9-6
3. Brandon Toscano (Bunnell) dec. Jhonnyel Ramirez (Danbury), 5-1
5. Lukas Cylwik (Trumbull) dec. Michael Reddick (Maloney), 6-1
285 pounds
Final: Matt Weiner (Shelton) pin Doug Traynor (New Fairfield), 1:47
3. Nuh Ajdinoski (Danbury) pin Don Shivas (Derby/Oxford/Holy Cross), 3:29
5. Begench Kulyyev (Simsbury) pin Malachi Mercer-robinson (Fairfield Prep), 1:30
Outstanding wrestler: Zach Jones (Simsbury), 152
NOTE: The State Open and Girls State Championship tournament were delayed by one day by snow on Friday. Tournament was held on Saturday and Sunday.
2022 State Open championships (brackets and results) from FloArena

CIAC Girls State Championship
At New Haven
Unofficial scores: 
1. Amity 58; 2. Berlin 55; 3. Norwalk 46; 4. Brien McMahon 45; 5. RHAM 44; 6. Windham 36; 7. South Windsor 32; 8. Stamford 31; 9. Killingly 28; 10. Ledyard 27; 11. Bristol Eastern 26; 11. Guilford 26; 13. Bethel 25; 13. Foran 25; 13. Stafford 25; 16. Montville 23; 16. Southington 23; 18. Shelton 22; 18. Somers 22; 20. East Haven 21; 21. New Haven 20; 21. Wethersfield 20; 23. Old Lyme 18½; 24. Lyman Mem/Windham Tech 18; 24. St. Paul 18; 26. Bristol Central 17; 27. Windsor 16; 28. Pomperaug 14; 28. Stratford 14; 30. Ellis Tech 13; 30. Haddam-Killingworth 13; 30. Jonathan Law 13; 30. Suffield/Windsor Locks 13; 34. New London 12; 35. Danbury 11; 35. Griswold/Wheeler 11; 35. Masuk 11; 35. Weston 11; 39. Manchester 9; 39. Plainville 9; 41. Canton 7; 41. Gilbert 7; 41. Rocky Hill 7; 44. Avon 4; 44. Northwestern 4; 46. Derby/Oxford/Holy Cross 3; 47. Joel Barlow 2; 48. Putnam 1
Individual results
99 pounds
Final: Emma Heslin (RHAM) pin Elena Quintaro (Southington), 1:19
3. Abby Pallotto (Amity) pin Jessica Dudley (Ledyard), 6:58
5. Madison Arthur (Gilbert) pin Lena Alves (Killingly), 0:38
106 pounds
Final: Samantha Yap (Stamford) dec. Taylor McCormick (Somers), 9-3
3. Hoshena Gemme (Old Lyme) dec. Lilliana Fraize (South Windsor), 10-0
5. Sybella Landrie (Berlin) pin Addisyn Herdic (Ellis Tech), 3:56
113 pounds
Final: Calli Gilchrist (Brien McMahon) dec. Christianna Morley (Berlin), 9-0
3. Valerie Turgeon (South Windsor) pin Karla Flores (Montville), 1:29
5. Amelia Peterson (Haddam-Killingworth) dec. Maela Sosa (Canton), 2-1
120 pounds
Final: Esther Ribeiro (Bethel) dec. Sabrina Sedor (Stafford), 2-0
3. Kaleigh Carillos (Norwalk) dec. Maren Gilchrist (Brien McMahon), 8-1
5. Marissa Wargo (Jonathan Law) pin Kali Fangiullo (Plainville), 2:09
126 pounds
Final: Rylee Donohue (Norwalk) dec. Emily De Souza (Amity), 7-0
3. Claire Keene (RHAM) dec. Lindsey Rywolt (Stratford), 3-0
5. Gianna Silva (Masuk) dec. Cassandra Roman (New London), 4-1 SV
132 pounds
Final: Camryn Brown (Amity) dec. Linda Holeman (Ledyard), 1-0
3. Julianna Morris (Pomperaug) pin Sophia Lancin (Weston), 2:19
138 pounds
Final: Kelly Aspras (Foran) pin Brooke Arnold (Wethersfield), 3:53
3. Araya Guilmette (Bristol Central) pin Renee Bunn (Killingly), 1:42
5. Sydney Dameron (Griswold/Wheeler) pin Katie Pavlakis (Avon), 4:15
152 pounds
Final: Ella Nichols (Bristol Eastern) pin Alexandria Gorman (New Haven), 1:12
3. Rachel Camiglio (Shelton) pin Signe Gejervall (Suffield/Windsor Locks), 1:44
5. Olivia Cicarelli (Killingly) pin Ligia Miketta (Derby/Oxford/Holy Cross), 2:36
170 pounds
Final: Brianna Seixas (Guilford) dec. Natalia Chorzepa (Berlin), 11-9
3. Jalinda Pontes (Lyman Mem/Windham Tech) dec. Makayla Thorpe (Windsor), 2-0
5. Andrea Quinones-Galaga (Windham) dec. Jen Thompson (Manchester), 7-3
235 pounds
Final: Caroline Gonzalez Garcia (Windham) pin Mallory Sefick (St. Paul), 1:28
3. Zayuri Castaneda (East Haven) pin Sarah Silva (Danbury), 0:55
5. Daniella Parisi (Southington) pin Grace Marino (Shelton), 0:41
Outstanding wrestler: Ella Nichols, Bristol Eastern (152)
2022 CIAC Girls State Championship meet (brackets and results) from FloArena

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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