By John Goralski
Two Knights finished the weekend undefeated. Two more scored medals with victories in the consolation finals. One would have been able to wrestle a fifth place bout, but tournament officials limited the medal rounds to just four places.
On Saturday, Jan. 25, the Knights took only nine wrestlers to the annual Timberlane Invitational Meet in New Hampshire, but it was enough to battle for sixth place in a field of elite New England teams.
“I thought we really wrestled well up there,” said Blue Knight wrestling coach Derek Dion. “Even the kids that didn’t win really wrestled well, so it was a really good weekend for us. The kids bonded, and it was a lot of fun.”
Zach Murillo continued his torrid pace with an undefeated trip through the 106 pound brackets. Murillo scored a 30 second pin, a 6-1 decision, and outlasted his opponent for a 5-4 overtime decision to capture the crown.
“Murillo has just been fantastic for us so far,” said Dion. “He’s getting through those tight matches because he’s such a smart wrestler. He knows how to grind it out in a tough, hard-fought type match, and he’s doing great.”
He was joined atop the podium by Zach Maxwell. The Southington senior bumped himself up to the 220 pound weight class and scored a pin with two decisions to capture the title.
“We moved him up to 220 because there were some better kids up there, and he really wrestled tough,” said Dion. “He beat the No. 2 New Hampshire kid in a really good match, and that was a great win for him.”
Southington advanced two other wrestlers into the consolation finals. Zach Bylykbashi and freshman Austin Abacherli came away with third place victories.
Abacherli a pin in his first bout before losing to the eventual champion in a 9-5 decision. Abacherli rebounded from the loss with a 6-3 decision and a third period pin in his final match.
“Abacherli really wrestled tough. He’s a freshman, but he’s been really wrestling great,” said Dion. “We have him working out with Murillo every day in practice, and that’s really paying off for him. He’s really progressing fast.”
Bylykbashi might have had the toughest road to his medal in the 120 pound class. He scored two major decisions before getting caughts in the semifinals. He bounced back with a 15-0 tech fall and a 10-2 decision to capture the bronze.
“It was some of his best wrestling, ever,” said Dion. “He was fantastic with his position and some of his technique. He had just one period in a semifinal match where he lost focus for a couple seconds. He lost that match, but he really wrestled well all weekend.”
Shawn Devin (170) was the only other Knights to stretch deep into the tournament. Devin went 3-2 in the tournament and finished for a tie for fifth place.
Now, the Knights will look to build momentum with dual meets against Weaver-Hartford Public and Farmington this week and the annual CT Challenge tournament at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday at Southington High School.