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Henckel, Kastner earn All-American honors in Fargo

Southington’s Chase Kastner, center with trophy, finished sixth in the 16U Greco-Roman competition. (Photos courtesy Sarah Jadach)

Southbury’s William Henckel and Southington’s Chase Kastner earned All-American honors this week as USA Wrestling’s Junior and 16U national championship meet in Fargo, North Dakota came to a close.

Henckel, who will be a junior at Blair Academy in New Jersey this fall, finished second at 160 pounds in the Junior Freestyle competition to earn All-American honors for the third straight year.

Kastner earned All-American honors for the first time with his sixth place finish in the 16U Greco Roman competition.

Henckel was the only state wrestler to earn a medal in the two boys freestyle competitions – Junior and 16U. Xavier’s Raekwon Shabazz (113) won three matches in the Junior Freestyle tournament with Meriden’s Caiden Talento (152), Norwalk’s J.T. Schneider (132) and Brookfield’s Zahir McLean-Felix (182) winning a pair of matches.

Henckel, who won a national championship at 145 in 16U Freestyle in 2021, won his first six matches to earn a spot in the finals. He had two pins and two victories by technical fall. Henckel beat Wisconsin’s Charles Millard in the semifinals, 10-3. Henckel gave up just four points in first six matches.

Henckel dropped a 9-4 decision to Wisconsin’s Braeden Scoles, a three-time Wisconsin state champion who will attend the University of Illinois in the fall.

Scoles, 19, led 3-2 after one period before Henckel tied the bout when Scoles stepped out of bounds. But Scoles got a pair of takedowns in the span of a minute to take a 7-3 lead. Henckel cut the lead to three when he forced Scoles to step of bounds.

With Henckel trying to score in the final, Scoles turned a Henckel takedown attempt into a takedown of his own to secure the bout.

In the 16U freestyle tournament, New Canaan’s Harry Kittridge (120), Canton’s Colby Houle (126), New Canaan’s Brady Kaupp (132), Norwalk’s Ryan Schneider (182) and Berlin’s Nicholas Ebrahimi (220) each won two bouts for Connecticut.

Kastner (94 pounds) won his first four matches to earn a spot in the 16U Greco Roman semifinals but he broke his arm in the final seconds of his 8-7 quarterfinal win over Pennsylvania’s Eli Herring and had to forfeit his remaining three bouts to finish sixth.

Kastner had a 4-3 lead after one period and increased it to 8-3 with a throw with 1:03 remaining. Herring picked up four points by throwing Kastner to his back but didn’t have enough time to pin Kastner.

Kastner erased a five-point deficit in his second round win over Illinois’ Symon Woods. Trailing 5-0, Kastner cut the lead to one with a four-point throw with 34 seconds left in the first period. In the second period, he got a takedown with 58 seconds remaining to take a 6-5 lead.

In his third round match, Kastner got a pin in 39 seconds to move into the quarterfinals.

In the 16 Greco Roman tournament, Houle (126) went 4-2 for Connecticut with three wins by technical fall with Fairfield’s Dominic Spadaro (138) going 3-2.

In the Junior Greco-Roman tournament, Xavier’s Raekwon Shabazz (113) went 3-2 for Team Connecticut with Norwalk’s J.T. Schneider (132) winning two matches.

2023 USA Wrestling Junior and 16U Nationals

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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