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Windham wins ECC title; Warde wins first FCIAC title since 2010; Xavier dominates

Norwalk’s Ryan Gilchrist tries to leap away from Trumbull’s Warren Little during the 170 pound final in Saturday’s FCIAC Tournament Saturday in New Canaan. Gilchrist won by pin. (Photo courtesy Leigh Busby)

With 10 wrestlers finishing in the top four of their respective weight classes, Windham won their first ECC championship since 2016 Saturday at the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship meet. The Whippets beat NFA (188), who finished second for the second straight year, and No. 7 Killingly (184½), which had won the last three ECC titles.

Delmazio Despard (113), Malachi Fowler (195) and Yael Garcia-Rodriguez (220) each won titles for the Whippets. Fowler won his second straight ECC title with a pin to remain 36-0 on the season.

NFA had two individual champions, four finalists and eight wrestlers who finished in the top three of their respective weight classes. NFA’s Jaiden James (120) won his second ECC title with teammate Thomas Brunelli (152) winning a title with a pin.

NFA, New London and East Lyme finished in a three-way tie for first place in the ECC Division I title race with four points each. Teams earn one point for each dual meet win against a divisional opponent and one point for each divisional opponent they beat at the ECC championships.

Killingly picked up championship victories from Brady Zadora (126) and Kaden Ware (132). Ware, who improved to 40-0 on the season, won his third ECC championship with Zadora winning his second ECC title in two years. Windham and Killingly shared the ECC Division II championship with five points each.

Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech won the ECC Division III title with eight points.

Montville’s James Linder, Jr., (138) was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler.

Ledyard freshman Tatianna Irizarry (106) became the first girl to earn a spot in the ECC Tournament finals but she dropped a 6-4 decision to Griswold/Wheeler’s Seth Christie in overtime.

Tied at 2-2, Christie got a takedown with 1:22 remaining in the third period to take the lead. He let Irizzary go with five seconds remaining but was also penalized one point for locking hands before he let her go. Christie got a takedown with 31 seconds left to win the match.

Irizarry was one of three girls across the state to earn a spot in the finals of a conference tournament on Saturday. Brien McMahon’s Calli Gilchrist (113) was a finalist at the FCIAC Tournament while Pomperaug’s Julianna Morris (126) was a finalist in the SWC Tournament.

Saturday, Feb. 11 results and boxscores

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Three days after losing to cross-town rival Fairfield Ludlowe for the first time, No. 6 Fairfield Warde had all 14 wrestlers win medals for finishing in the top six of their respective weight classes to lead the Mustangs to their first FCIAC Tournament title since 2010.

It’s only the second time since 1987 that No. 3 Danbury hasn’t won the FCIAC tournament. The Mustangs beat the Hatters, 216-184 with Fairfield Ludlowe finishing third with 169½ points. It was the highest-ever finish in the tournament for the Falcons.

Warde had two individual champions and five finalists. They had one wrestler finish third, three take fourth place, one finish fifth and four in sixth place.

“The message has always been clear. We work to perform in the postseason. We have been telling the kids it takes 14 to win ‘14 strong’ and that was our focus,” Fairfield Warde coach Jason Shaughnessy said. “Everyone had to contribute to reach our goal. We had a huge round Saturday morning putting five (wrestlers) in the finals and winning wrestleback (matches) by pins. We won the toss-up matches, which is always important, and we often won by pin.”

On Tuesday, Fairfield Ludlowe beat Fairfield Warde, 36-30, to win the FCIAC East title. “The loss Tuesday was frustrating because we didn’t perform to our potential,” Shaughnessy said. “We lost matches we shouldn’t (have) but we refocused, bounces back and reached our goal of winning FCIAC (championship).”

Warde’s Owen Sheiman (113) won an FCIAC title, beating Brien McMahon’s Calli Gilchrist, the first girl to make a FCIAC final. Sheiman won 8-4 with three reversals. Nehemias Pettway (220) also won a title for the Mustangs.

Danbury went 4-for-4 in the finals with Cristian Pote (106), Jesse Defonce (138), Dominic Iaquinto (182) and Nuh Ajdinoski (285) winning FCIAC titles. Pote won 10-0 over St. Joseph’s Zach Brzoska with Defonce outlasting Norwalk’s Nick Fatone, 4-2.

Iaquinto beat Ridgefield’s Andrey Kosygin, 1-0 thanks to a second period escape while Ajdinoski had three pins to win at 285. Ajdinoski was named Outstanding Wrestler for upper weights.

In the 126 pound final, Norwalk’s Phoenix Gardella got a takedown with 15 seconds left in overtime to beat Warde’s Dominick Spadaro, 6-4. Gardella was named Outstanding Wrestler for lower weights.

The FCIAC also has a 99-pound weight class but that is considered an exhibition and isn’t part of the team scoring.

Saturday, Feb. 11 results and boxscores

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With nine champions and 10 finalists, No. 1 Xavier easily won the Southern Connecticut Conference championship for the sixth consecutive season and the 11th time in team history. The Falcons won with 244½ points, the second-highest total in tournament history. Xavier had a tournament-record 264 points a year ago.

Fairfield Prep finished second, their best-ever finish in the tournament, with 108 points, just ahead of Foran (106) in third place.

Raekwon Shabazz (106), Braylon Gonazlez (113), Kevin Kasperowski (120), Kyle Levesque (132), Anthony Basile (138), Matthew Ferrucci (152), Zach Fong (160), Charles Weidman (182) and Vincent Scileppi (220) each won SCC titles for Xavier.

Fairfield Prep’s William Smith (145) earned outstanding wrestler honors after his 7-0 win over Xavier’s John Lagana in the finals.

Saturday, Feb. 11 results and boxscores

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No. 2 New Milford scored a tournament-record 267 points to outlast No. 5 Newtown in the Southwest Conference tournament in Stratford.

The Green Wave had 13 wrestlers finishing in the top four of their respective weight classes. Nine New Milford wrestlers made the finals and four brought home championships.

Newtown scored 241 points with 11 wrestlers finishing in the top four, six wrestlers in the finals and three winning SWC titles. It’s the most points by a runnerup team in tournament history.

Alex Oberc (106), Tynan Lim (132), Braden Olmstead (138) and Khalil Bourjelli (160) won SWC titles for the Green Wave.

New Fairfield’s Vincent Tripaldi (126) beat Pomperaug’s Julianna Morris in the finals, 13-4. Morris was the first girls to reach a SWC Tournament final.

New Milford broke the tournament record set by Newtown with 258½ points in 2015.

Saturday, Feb. 11 results and boxscores

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Portland (17-6, 7-0 NCCC) won their second straight NCCC Tournament championship with a 7½ point win over Rockville, 194½ to 187. Pins in the finals from Spencer Rosado (138) and Tyler Quinn (160) along with five wins in seven consolation final matches helped the Highlanders win the tournament.

The tournament victory lifted Portland to their second consecutive NCCC championship. In the NCCC, teams earn one point for each league team they beat in the dual meet season and a ½ point for each team they beat at the league championship meet. Portland finished with 10½ points followed by Stafford (8½) and Rockville (8).

Rosado was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler.

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With three individual champions, Nonnewaug won the Berkshire Valley tournament in Derby for the second straight year with a 159-127 win over Gilbert. The co-op team of Derby/Oxford/Holy Cross had four individual champions, sparked by Anthony and Don Shivas. St. Paul’s Keegan Hill (160) was named outstanding wrestler.

With the tournament, Nonnewaug also won their second straight Berkshire League championship.

Saturday, Feb. 11 results and boxscores

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In a historic performance, Westport’s Greens Farms Academy won their third consecutive Western New England Prep School Wrestling Association championship with a 161-point win over Brunswick School in Greenwich, 400½ to 239½ at the Taft School in Watertown.

GFA put 14 wrestlers into the finals and all 14 won individual championships. Ten GFA wrestlers won by pin with one victory by technical fall. Brunswick had four finalists and four wrestlers finishing third.

Choate Rosemary Hall had five finalists at the New England Prep School Wrestling Association (NEPSWA)’s Class A championship meet and finished second behind Northfield Mt. Hermon. John Mairano of Simsbury won a Class A title for Northfield at 160 pounds.

Saturday, Feb. 11 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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