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Blair’s Henckel and Lopes capture Beast of East championships

Southbury’s Will Henckel, shown in Flo’s Who is No. 1 competition in September, won the Beast of the East tournament Sunday. (Photo courtesy Sam Janicki /

Blair Academy’s William Henckel, a junior from Southbury, became the second Connecticut boy to win a championship at the 31st annual Beast of the East tournament Sunday with a win by technical fall in the championship bout at the University of Delaware.

Wrestling at 165 pounds, Henckel went 6-0 in the tournament with three pins and a technical fall. He beat Ryan Garvick of Central Dauphin High in Harrisburg, Pa., in the final, 22-7 in 5:07 with nine takedowns and a three-point near fall in the bout.

Henckel advanced to the final with a 4-1 win over Nick Singer of Faith Christian Academy from Quakerstown, Pa. Henckel grabbed a 4-0 lead in the first period to take control of the match. It was Henckel’s first medal in the tournament.

The first state wrestler to win at the Beast of East was Henckel’s teammate at Blair Academy, Matthew Lopes of Danbury, who won his first Beast title in 2022.

Lopes earned his second Beast title on Sunday with a 4-3 win over top seed Caedyn Ricciardi of St. Peter’s Prep in New Jersey. In the final, Lopes escaped with 1:46 left in the third period to cut the lead to one and got a match-winning takedown with 27 seconds left to take a one-point lead.

Lopes went 6-0 in the tournament had a series of tough matches. He beat No. 3 seed Eren Sement of Council Rock North in the quarterfinals, 12-3. In the semifinals, he beat No. 2 seed Nick O’Neil of Malvern Prep, 2-1 with a wild third period. Lopes got a takedown with eight seconds left in the second period. Lopes was seeded sixth.

Wrestlers from seven Connecticut schools competed in the event. Rules allow wrestlers to compete in elite-level tournaments while their teammates compete in tournaments back home.

Danbury had eight wrestlers in the tournament while Xavier had six. Newtown and Ridgefield had four wrestlers each in the event while Simsbury had three and New Fairfield and Lewis Mills had one wrestler competing.

Xavier’s Charles Weidman finished eighth with a 4-3 record at 215 pounds. One of his biggest wins came in the second round when he got a takedown with 35 seconds remaining to win 5-3 and advance to the quarterfinals.

Xavier’s Raekwon Shabazz (113) went 3-2 in the tournament with three pins. Shabazz won his first matches to earn a spot in the quarterfinals but he dropped a 11-9 decision to Kole Davidheise of Faith Christian Academy. Davidheise had a pair of third period takedowns including a takedown with four seconds left in regulation to secure the win and advance to the semifinals.

Xavier had the most points for a Connecticut team with 47½ points to finish 39th with Newtown finishing 87th with 20½ points and Danbury finishing 98th with 16½ points.

Several state wrestlers had two or more wins in the tournament. Lewis Mills’ Jack Gedney (120) was 2-1 with a pin in 44 seconds and a 9-1 victory. His tournament ended with a medical forfeit, which doesn’t count as a loss for a wrestler.

Xavier’s Kevin Kasperowski (132) went 3-2 in the tournament along with teammate Anthony Basi (138), who won three straight matches in the consolation round.

New Fairfield’s Joe Mahoney (120), Xavier’s Kyle Levesque (144), Danbury’s Jesse Defonce (157), Ridgefield’s Johnny Carrozza (132), Danbury’s Deydon Soto (132) and  Xavier’s Max Morse (175) were each 2-2.

Canton’s Colby Houle, a freshman at Northfield Mt. Hermon, went 4-2 in action at 132 pounds. He won three straight bouts to earn a spot in the quarterfinals where he was pinned by Carson Walch of Pope John XXIII from Sparta Township, N.J.

Simsbury finished last with minus 0.5 points. Coleman Finn (126) earned 2½ for his one victory at 126 points but Max Konopka (190) was thrown out of the tournament with a flagrant misconduct after a second round loss. Not only did Simsbury lose the points that Konopka earned in the first round but they were penalized three points.

As Konopka walked off the mat, he said his opponent pulled on his hair after the match. Konopka shoved his opponent and then took a swing, earning him an ejection.

2023 Beast of the East
At Newark, Delaware
Top 10 teams – Blair Academy (NJ) 282½, 2. Faith Christian Academy (PA) 190½, 3. Malvern Prep (PA) 189½, 4. St. Joseph Regional High (NJ) 177, 5. Bethlehem Catholic High (PA) 127, 6. Delbarton School (NJ) 116½, 7. St. Peter Prepatory (NH) 114½, 8. Bergen Catholic (NJ) 98½, 9. Paramus Catholic (NJ) 94½, 10. Council Rock South High (PA) 92½
State teams: 39. Xavier 47½, 87, Newtown 20½, 98. Danbury 16½, 121. Ridgefield 9, 139. New Fairfield 5, 139. Lewis Mills 5, 163. Simsbury minus 0.5
Individual results
106 – Final: Joe Bachmann (Faith Christian Academy) dec. Cameron Sontz (Delbarton) 3-0; 3. Vincenzo Anello (Blair Academy) dec. McGettigan Liam (Gilman School) 3-0
113 – Final: Ayden Smith (Notre Dame) dec. JoJo Uhorchuk (Signal Mountain) 5-3; 3. Gabriel Ballard (Northampton) dec. Nikos Filipos (Wyoming Seminary) 3-1
120 – Final: Leo DeLuca (Blair Academy) dec. Aaron Seidel (Northern Lebanon) 5-2; 3. Landon Sidun (Norwin) dec. Keanu Dillard (Bethlehem Catholic) 3-1, OT
126 – Final: Anthony Knox (St John Vianney) dec. Sammy Spaulding (Camden Catholic) 16-9; 3. Sebastian Ortega (Howell) dec. Ryan DeGeorge (Delbarton) 3-0
132: — Final: Matthew Lopes (Blair Academy) dec. Caedyn Ricciardi (St Peter Prepatory) 4-3; 3. Nick Oneill (Malvern Prep) dec. Carson Walsh (Pope John XXIII) 3-2
138 – Final: Jayden James (Delbarton) dec. William Dekraker (Blair Academy) 5-3; 3. Tahir Parkins (Nazareth) dec. Carter Nogle (Mount St Joes) 7-3
144: — Final: Jack Consiglio (Malvern Prep) dec. Chase Van Hoven (Brooke Point) 4-3; 3. Logan Rozynski (Blair Academy) dec. Sonny Amato (Rumson-Fair Haven Regional) 2-0
150: Final — Kollin Rath (Bethlehem Catholic) dec. Collin Gaj (Quakertown) 2-1, OT; 3. Chase Hontz (Faith Christian Academy) dec. Thomas Stofka (First Colonial) 6-3
157 – Final: Paul Ognissanti (Blair Academy) dec. Charlie Scanlan (Bethlehem Catholic) 15-5; 3. Ryan Ford (Bergen Catholic) dec. Nathan Rickards (Malvern Prep) 3-1 OT
165 – Final: William Henckel (Blair Academy) tech fall Ryan Garvick (Central Dauphin HS) 22-7, 5:07; 3. Jordan Chapman (Cranford) dec. Emmitt Sherlock (Gilman School) 4-31
175 – Final:  Ryan Burton (St Joseph Regional) dec. Adam Waters (Faith Christian Academy) 4-3; 3. Gage Wright (Parkersburg South) pin
Haden Bottiglieri (Belmont Hill) 0:34
190 – Final: Harvey Ludington (Brick Memorial) pin Danny Rella (Paramus Catholic) 4:17; 3. Nick Wehmeyer (Malvern Prep) pin Landon Jobber-Spence (Staunton River) 2:35
215 – Final: James Miller (Salesianum) medical forfeit over Hudson Skove (Rumson-Fair Haven Regional); 3. Brian Christie (St Joseph Metuchen) dec. Aidan Schlett (St Joseph Regional) 6-1; 7. Jason Singer (Faith Christian Academy) dec. Charles Weidman (Xavier) 10-3
285 – Final: Carter Neves (Blair Academy) dec. Sean Kinney (Nazareth) 3-2; 3. Calvin Lachman (Quakertown) dec. Brett Clatterbaugh (Eastern View) 7-2 OT

2023 Beast of the East boys brackets and results

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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