King Solomon; Brian Solomon launched a Southington wrestling dynasty

“Brian is probably the most intense kid that I’ve ever, ever coached. Man, he is focused. He was focused academically. He was focused off the mat, on the mat. He worked hard and really took it to task,” said former Golden Bear coach Bob Skelton. “I would tell him something on a Tuesday, and on Wednesday night he’d be doing it in a match like he was doing it his whole life. He made me look good for a long time. He was doing stuff on the mat that just blew me away.”

It was his sophomore year in 1982 that Solomon charged into his brother’s celebration with his first New England Division III championship (His second came in 1984). He went on to finish fifth at the NCAA division III tournament to claim his first to two all-American awards. He was the team’s MVP in each of his final three seasons and earned all-American honors in all three years. He earned the nod as captain in his junior and senior seasons, and has already been inducted into both the WNEC and New England College Conference halls of fame.

“He had a sense of quiet, internal leadership qualities,” said Skelton. “He led by example. He was the first guy to practice and the last one to leave. He was the first guy to run sprints. He was the first one to do anything. He was an inspiration to everybody, and it was just contagious.”

As a junior, Solomon welcomed his younger brother Gary to his team and the sibling rivalry carried onto the mat. Their practice sessions would spill off the mat as teammates gathered to watch the brothers fight for the last point long after the whistle was blown. Those practice bouts were often more intense than their varsity matches.

“I wouldn’t even go over to their side of the mat when they were training together,” said Skelton. “They’d be slapping each other, kicking each other, and yelling at each other. Really? It was bloodshed.”

The work paid off. Gary fought his way to all-American honors. Brian almost captured a national title. As a senior, officials waved off two takedowns in the championship round of the NCAA tournament. The match went to overtime, and Solomon finished as the runner-up.

“It was a terrible call,” said Skelton. “He got the takedown, got on top, put the kid to his back, but didn’t get any points. He ended up losing in overtime for a national championship match, but he should have won.”

“It still haunts me,” Solomon said. “I remember who I was wrestling. I remember the move. I lost my patience. Instead, I went for a move that I shouldn’t have tried. I gave up a takedown and I lost in overtime. I tilted the guy twice. One ref gave me two points. The other one waved it off both times.”

Perhaps that’s why Solomon stepped in when a controversial call ended his son’s high school career. To help him end on a better note, the two registered for the 2007 Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Association (MAWA) championship. Solomon hadn’t been on the mat in more than 15 years. He lost his first match, but he battled out of the loser’s bracket to finish third against a strong field of college athletes.

“I remember my last match. I wrestled a kid that had just graduated from college. I was totally gassed. I was old and out of shape,” he said. “I was talking to a father, and he told me that his kid was really good. He was in the 215 weight class. ‘Oh, no,’ I told him. I think I’m wrestling him in my next match for third and fourth.”

Solomon won.

It was no surprise that the Southington Sports Hall of Fame selection committee chose Solomon to be inducted into the local hall of fame. He was a leader in his generation and the next. On Thursday, Nov. 14, Solomon will be honored in an induction ceremony at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville.

“I think this is a tremendous honor because Southington has such a huge history with sports,” he said. “To be mentioned with some of these athletes is an honor.”

To reserve tickets, contact Jim Verderame at (860) 628-7335. To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.

Submitted Brian Solomon was a two-time all-American wrestler at Western New England College and a three-time academic all-American.

Submitted

Brian Solomon was a two-time all-American wrestler at Western New England College and a three-time academic all-American.

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