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Shabazz, Calli Gilchrist bring home NHSCA national titles

Norwalk’s Calli Gilchrist, left and Middletown’s Raekwon Shabazz of Xavier won NHSCA national championships in Virginia on Sunday.

Six boys from Connecticut and five girls earned All-American honors at the recent National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) national wrestling championship tournaments in Virginia Beach, Va.

Two wrestlers won national championships. Middletown’s Raekwon Shabazz, who wrestles at Xavier, won the NHSCA title at 106 pounds in the Junior National tournament while Norwalk’s Calli Gilchrist won a national title at 114 pounds in the girls tournament, which is open to girls in grades 9-12.

Norwalk’s Brendan Gilchrist (195) and Stratford’s James Duhancik (220) earned All-American honors by finishing sixth and eighth, respectively, in their weight classes in the Senior National tournament. Avon’s Isaiah Adams (113) earned NHSCA All-American honors for the second consecutive year with a third place finish.

Norwalk’s Ryan Schneider was sixth in the freshman tournament at 160 while Fairfield’s Ben Zuckerman (126) was seventh in the sophomore tournament.

In the girls tournament, Stamford’s Samantha Yap (100) was fifth, MIlford’s Kelly Aspras (145) was sixth with Old Lyme’s Hoshena Gemme (107) and Norwalk’s Rylee Donohue (126) each finishing seventh to earn All-American honors.

Shabazz, who won the State Open and New England championships earlier this season, went 6-0 with two pins to win the national title in the Junior Division. After a 11-2 win over Ohio’s Austin Gelman in the quarterfinals, Shabazz dominated Samuel Aponte of Fayetteville, North Carolina, 14-2 in the semifinals.

In the championship match against Jack Bergmann of Wanague, N.J., Shabazz got an early takedown and led 3-0 early in the third period. But Bergmann rallied to tie the match at 3-3. Shabazz got a takedown with 1:28 remaining in the title bout to take a two-point lead. Bergmann escaped with 15 seconds remaining but that is as close as he would get in a 5-4 loss.

Shabazz is the first Xavier wrestler to win a NHSCA national championship.

Calli Gilchrist, who is ranked 13th in the latest USA Wrestling, FloWrestling, National Wrestling Hall of Fame girls individual rankings,  came into the tournament on a roll as well. The Brien McMahon wrestler won the CIAC’s Girls Invitational championship and a New England tournament title.

Gilchrist became the second Connecticut girl to win a NHSCA title with her dominating victory in the 114 pound weight class. Gilchrist went 5-0 with four pins in the tournament, including two in the first period.

Gilchrist pinned Miliyah Pancherio of Texas in the quarterfinals in 1:23 and advanced to the finals with a pin of Norah Swain of North Kingstown, Rhode Island in 2:30. Gilchrist shutout Kylee Golz of Mission Viejo, California, 7-0 to win the title. Gilchrist had a 3-0 lead early in the third period after an early escape. She added a takedown and two-point near fall to secure the title.

Adams (113) earned NHSCA All-American honors for the second consecutive year with his third place finish at 113 pounds in the Senior Division tournament. Adams went 5-1 in the tournament with two pins.

In the semifinals, Adams lost to eventual champion Tyler Washburn of Naples, Florida, 7-6 thanks to a three-point near fall with eight second left in the match that turned a 5-4 lead for Adams into a lead for Washburn. Adams beat Richard Albert of Cape Coral, Florida, 1-0 with an escape with 1:15 left in the second period and pinned Gunner Chambers of Georgia in 1:121 to take third.

In the middle school division, Connecticut had 12 wrestlers earn All-American honors by finishing in the top eight, including two individual champions.

Simsbury’s Maximus Konopka (180) went 4-0 with a 3-2 win over Carl Mielnik of Maryland to win a NSCHA national title. At 90 pounds, Newtown’s Brighton Karvoski won a national title with a 5-0 record and a 8-0 win over Pennsylvania’s Deklan Barr in the finals.

Karvoski earned All-American honors in the middle school division for the second straight year.

Konopka and Karvoski are the state’s first NHSCA Middle School champions since Danbury’s Jakob Camacho won a middle school title in 2014, according to research from Connecticut Wrestling Online.


National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) national championship wrestling tournaments
At Virginia Beach, Va.
NHSCA All-Americans from Connecticut. Top eight in each weight class earn NHSCA All-American honors.

Senior
James Duhancik, Stratford (220), eighth
Isaiah Adams, Avon (113), third
Brendan Gilchrist, Norwalk (195), sixth
Junior
Raekwon Shabazz, Middletown/Xavier (106), first
Sophomore
Ben Zuckerman, Fairfield/Greens Farms Academy, (126), seventh
Freshmen
Ryan Schneider, Norwalk (160), sixth
Girls
Calli Gilchrist, Norwalk (114), first
Samantha Yap, Stamford (100), fifth
Kelly Aspras, Milford (145), sixth
Hoshena Gemme, Old Lyme (107), seventh
Rylee Donohue, Norwalk (126), seventh

Middle School
Brighton Karvoski, Newtown (90), first
Maximus Konopka, Simsbury (180), first
Antonio Arguello, Newtown (135), second
Colby Houle, Collinsville (119), second
Cole Desiano, Ridgefield (75), third
Jake Maddox, Newtown (154), third
Dawson McGrath, Milford (75), fourth
William Motley, Norwalk (142), fourth
Landon Herdic, Canterbury (80), fourth
Vincent Rivera, South Windsor (142), fifth
Luxas Boxley, Ledyard (80), sixth
Isaiah McDaniel (75), seventh

Tournament results and brackets (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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