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Fairfield Warde prevails in duel with Danbury for Class LL state title

Fairfield Warde’s Dominick Spadaro, left, and East Hartford’s Jaeckez Mendez (138) battle in the Class LL finals Saturday in Trumbull. Mendez beat Spadaro, 5-4 in triple OT.

TRUMBULL, Feb. 17, 2024 — State championships are not always won on center mat under the spotlight of a championship final. Frequently, it is the decisions in the consolation round on those back mats that no is paying particular attention to that decide championships.

Through eight of the first 14 weight classes in the medal round of Saturday’s Class LL championship tournament, Danbury outscored Fairfield Warde, 15-0, to erase a 10-point deficit and take a five-point lead with six weight classes remaining.

But Fairfield Warde won their final four bouts to outlast Danbury, 221-215 to win their first Class LL title and their first state championship since 2010. Danbury went 6-3 in the medal round with two individual champions – Deydon Soto (132) and Jesse Defonce (165) — but didn’t have enough to catch the Mustangs.

The medal round consists of the championship match in the center of the gym with the third place and fifth place bouts being run at the same time behind the championship mat.

With five individual champions, East Hartford finished third with 200 points. Juniors Drayvyn Roberts (175) and Isaac Quiles (126) each winning their third consecutive Class LL championship with junior teammates Jaeckez Mendezz (138) capturing his second straight title.

“It was really a back and forth type of day,” Fairfield Warde head coach Jason Shaughnessy said. “We did a good job in the semifinal round putting people in the finals. We lost some finals matches but we wrestled fairly tough. We had nine people score and we have nine people going to the State Open.”

The top six finishers in each weight class advance to next weekend’s State Open in New Haven.

“It was honestly incredible to watch,” Danbury coach Mike Silvestri said. “They are really dejected but I told them that your heads should high. It’s not about one kid. It’s not about one match. This team battled. They showed heart all year and we saw it on display tonight. I am really proud of them.”

Danbury’s Deydon Soto, right, battles with Norwalk’s Phoenix Gardella in Saturday’s Class LL final at 132 pounds.

Fairfield Warde had a 10-point lead when the finals began at 120 pounds, 206-196.

Danbury’s Cristian Pote (120) lost in the finals to undefeated Ridgefield senior Dominic Barrella, 3-1. But the Hatters cut the Warde lead to four, 206-202, when Deydon Soto (132) pinned previously undefeated Phoenix Gardella of Norwalk in the finals in 5:49.

In the final at 138 pounds, Mendez outlasted Fairfield Warde’s Dominick Spadaro, 5-4 in triple OT in a dynamic battle of two returning state champions. Mendez got an escape with 1:17 left in the third period to tie the match at 4-4 and got his match-winning escape with 24 seconds left in the third OT.

Danbury got some dramatic victories in the medal round. At 144 pounds, Harrison Muller got an escape with three seconds remaining to beat Staples’ Liam Donaldson, 1-0, and finish fifth. That win helped Danbury cut the Warde lead to two points, 206-204.

In the fifth-place bout at 157 pounds, Danbury’s Emrick Henry scored four points in the third period to beat NFA’s Naim Wallace, 6-3 and enable the Hatters to tie Warde, 206-206, with seven weight classes to go.

Danbury moved ahead, 211-206, when senior Jesse Defonce (23-1) beat Warde junior Louis Soraccio (35-4) for the second consecutive week in the final at 165 pounds, 17-5. Defonce also beat Soraccio in the FCIAC final a week ago.

Warde closed the gap to three points, 213-210, when Ian Bertot (175) won by pin in his fifth place match. Danbury’s Eric Coons (175) took third with a 3-1 win over Enfield’s Jacob Beiler.

In the finals at 190 pounds, NFA’s Zaire Wallace blanked Warde’s Cole Grenier, 7-0. But Warde teammate Liam Finneran (215) got another pin over New Britain’s Michael Zapor to finish fifth and put the Mustangs back in the lead, 214-213.

At 285 pounds, Danbury’s Anderson DaSilva beat Hall’s Luc Abbatemarco in double OT, 4-1 to give Danbury a 215-214 lead over Warde with two weight classes remaining. Warde’s Anthony Albanese (29-1) was pinned by Enfield’s Keonta Crawford in the final at 285.

In a rematch of last week’s FCIAC final, Fairfield Warde’s Jude Grammatico (103) dominated Ridgefield’s Carter Lanzilli, 15-2 in the third place match to put the Mustangs back in front, 217-215.

In the last weight class of the evening, Warde junior Zach Brzoska (113) outlasted Glastonbury’s Ryan Ouelette in the final, 8-6, while Danbury’s Anthony Valenzuela lost to Staple’s Seamus Brannigan to secure the title for Fairfield Warde.

Shaughnessy didn’t give his any specific instructions before the medal round about the team race. “I don’t want to put any extra burden on them,” he said. “I want them focused on their matches and they have to do.”

In the end, the Mustangs brought home the big trophy. “I have a lot of silver (second place trophies) in my closet. This is nice.” Since winning a state title in 2010, Warde had finished second in Class LL three times and second in Class L three times.

Warde’s five finalists were all juniors.

Southington’s Chase Kastner, right, battles with NFA’s Landon Herdic in Saturday’s Class LL finals at 106 pounds. Kastner prevailed.

East Hartford became the first team since Danbury in 2014 to have five individual champions and not win the tournament. The Hornets had two wrestlers earn spots in the medal round. Their chances were not helped by a gap at 120 pounds. One wrestler broke his nose two weeks ago at the CCC championships with a second wrestler was overweight on Friday.

“I’m proud of my team,” East Hartford’s Drayvn Roberts said. “We came in as brothers. We fought together and rode together as one. I am proud of what we were able to do.”

All five East Hartford finalists are juniors. Roberts (175) improved to 32-0 on the year with victories in the finals while Quiles (126) improved to 32-1. Mendez (138) was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler for his overtime win over Spadaro.

Yaxier Rivera outlasted Trumbull’s Tyler Neiva, 5-3 in the final at 157 and Sammy Montovani (215) pinned Trumbull’s Aethan Munden to win his first state title.

Southington had two individual champions. Freshman Chase Kastner (40-1) beat NFA’s Landon Herdic, 10-2 in the final at 106 while senior Josh Howard (40-3) beat Fairfield Prep’s William Smith, 5-3 in the final at 150.

Fairfield Prep’s Tyler Smith (175) lost in the finals to Roberts by pin in 2:53. The Smith brothers are not related.

Fairfield Warde wrestles celebrate after winning the Class LL championship on Saturday.

2024 Class LL championships
At Trumbull
Team results – 1. Fairfield Warde 221, 2. Danbury 215, 3. East Hartford 200, 4. Ridgefield 190½, 5. NFA 158½, 6. Trumbull 141½, 7. Southington 138½, 8. Staples 121½, 9. Conard 111, 10. Enfield 108, 11. Fairfield Prep 96, 12. Glastonbury 95, 13. Norwalk 72½, 14. Hall 58, 15. Stamford 49½, 16. Westhill 48½, 17. Manchester 45, 18. New Britain 37, 19. Darien 36, 20. Pomperaug/Watertown/Naugatuck 16, 21. Greenwich 15, 22. Brien McMahon 12, 23. New Haven 9
Championship finals
106 Chase Kastner (Southington) dec. Landon Herdic (Norwich Free Academy), 10-2
113 Zach Brzoska (Fairfield Warde) dec. Ryan Ouelette (Glastonbury), 8-6
120 Dominic Barrella (Ridgefield) dec. Cristian Pote (Danbury), 3-1
126 Isaac Quiles (East Hartford) dec. Ethan Buonanducci (Enfield), 7-3
132 Deydon Soto (Danbury) pin Phoenix Gardella (Norwalk), 5:49
138 Jaeckez Mendez (East Hartford) dec. Dominick Spadaro (Fairfield Warde), 5-4, 3 OT
144 Victor Petkov (Ridgefield) dec. Dylan Vanegas (Norwich Free Academy), 7-2
150 Josh Howard (Southington) dec. William Smith (Fairfield Prep), 5-3
157 Yaxier Rivera (East Hartford) dec. Tyler Neiva (Trumbull), 5-3
165 Jesse Defonce (Danbury) dec. Louis Soracco (Fairfield Warde), 17-5
175 Drayvn Roberts (East Hartford) pin Tyler Smith (Fairfield Prep), 2:53
190 Zaire Wallace (Norwich Free Academy) dec. Cole Grenier (Fairfield Warde), 7-0
215 Sammy Montovani (East Hartford) pin Aethan Munden (Trumbull), 3:51
285 Keonta Crawford (Enfield) pin Anthony Albanese (Fairfield Warde), 3:31
Third place (consolation finals)
106 Jude Grammatico (Fairfield Warde) dec. Carter Lanzilli (Ridgefield), 15-2
113 Dylan Meyers (Ridgefield) pin Armen Arakelian (Conard), 4:26
120 Nathaniel Smith (Darien) pin Mike Baker (Southington), 3:18
126 John Carrozza (Ridgefield) dec. Owen Sheiman (Fairfield Warde), 9-1
132 Leo Moore (Ridgefield) dec. Edward Lavoie (Norwich Free Academy), 5-3
138 Lorenzo Lanzilli (Ridgefield) dec. Blake Watkins (Staples), 13-5
144 Harry Marino (Conard) dec. Nick Fatone (Norwalk), 12-4
150 Kyle Amirault (Glastonbury) dec. Luciano Tumminello (Ridgefield), 6-2
157 Jack Lilly (Fairfield Prep) pin Jonathan Wright-Goodison (Hall), 3:40
165 Noah Colon (Manchester) dec. Lucas Rosen Westport, CT (Staples), 6-4
175 Eric Coons (Danbury) dec. Jacob Beiler (Enfield), 3-1
190 Braydon Sohn (Conard) dec. Rory Firmender (Trumbull), 2-1
215 Andrew Mikosz (Southington) dec. Woodensley Blaise (Westhill), 3-1
285 Anderson Da silva (Danbury) dec. Luc Abbatemarco (Hall), 4-1 TB2
Fifth place
106 Ares Bourque (Enfield) dec. Christopher Montovani (East Hartford), 6-0
113 Seamus Brannigan (Staples) pin Anthony Valenzuela (Danbury), 2:46
120 Isaac Yap (Stamford) dec. Bryce Faranda (Westhill), 8-4
126 Ryan Laing (Norwalk) dec. Jackson Sorel (Norwich Free Academy), 5-0
132 Jonathan Pires (Trumbull) pin Gavin Zahler (Staples), 0:25
138 Dugan Marsh (Norwich Free Academy) dec. Shane Ryan (Trumbull), 12-10 OT
144 Harrison Muller (Danbury) dec. Liam Donaldson (Staples), 1-0
150 Damian Rousseau (Staples) pin Melanio Zapata (Danbury), 4:15
157 Emrick Henry (Danbury) dec. Naim Wallace (Norwich Free Academy), 6-3
165 Jesean Lewis (East Hartford) dec. Brooks Mcmahon (Conard), 7-1
175 Ian Bertot (Fairfield Warde) pin Logan Jenkins (Norwich Free Academy), 1:54
190 Troy Giaccone Glastonbury) pin Talil Gray (Stamford), 1:21
215 Liam Finneran (Fairfield Warde) pin Michael Zapor (New Britain), 3:46
285 Alex Kingan (Trumbull) pin Andrew Shubert (Southington), 0:25
Outstanding wrestler: Jaeckez Mendez, East Hartford, 138
2024 Class LL brackets and results (FloArena)
Printable brackets

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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