By BRIAN JENNINGS
The lights went off, and the colored lights lit up the walls throughout the Walt Lozoski Gymnasium. The spotlight came down and fog filled the room. And the music played. “I can feel it co-ming in the air to-night, oh Lord.”
The wrestlers came running out around the mat to start their warm-ups. And senior night was underway.
The Blue Knights wrestling squad honored their seniors on Wednesday, Feb. 4 with a short ceremony before their match against Conard (9-7).
“We have seniors that have been warriors for us,” said Dion. “They’re great kids, leaders, and wrestlers. So it’s tough to see them go. I just hope we can get them through in the states so they can get them some hardware in the next couple of weeks.”
The Knights (10-6) started off strong with pins by senior Zack Murillo (106), Shawn Wagner (113), and Kyle Solomon (126) to put the Knights up, 23-0, after five bouts, but the Chieftains started to come back.
Southington kept the match close all the way up the lineup and trailed by just three points at the start of the final bout, but the Chieftains were able to get a pin, securing the win and defeating the Knights, 44-33.
The Chieftains finished with five pins in the last 10 bouts of the match, including the last one. The Knight’s only other pin came from Vance Upham (195).
“I thought our lightweights wrestled tough,” the coach said. “We were hanging in there right through the middle. We had a good lead going, but we just got caught in a couple headlocks. We were yelling at the kids to stay away from the headlocks. And we had younger kids that just weren’t able to stay away from them.”
It didn’t get any easier the following night as Southington suffered their second straight loss in back-to-back nights, with a 43-25 loss at Bristol Central.
Murillo’s 24 second pin in the 106-pound bout was Southington’s only pin for the match. Solomon (132), Shawn Devin (152), and Andrew Syzmanski (285) won by decision. The Rams finished with five pins and three decisions.
“We had a couple of unfortunate things not go our way,” said Dion, “but you have to battle through and we have to a better job of keeping our heads in it. We have to finish matches.”
On Saturday, the Knights were at it again, competing against the Nonnewaug Chiefs, Hand Tigers, Ledyard Colonels, and Waterford Lancers at the Lancer Invitational.
Southington was able to knock off the Chiefs, 61-18, in the opener. The Knights scored eight forfeits, two decisions, and a pin by Devin (152).
In the second match, Southington was defeated by the Tigers, 39-27. Austin Abacherli (120), Zach Bylykbashi (126), Richie Zayas (195), and Murillo (106) scored pins in the loss.
For the second time this week, Southington scored back to back losses with a 45-19 loss to the Colonels in the third round. Abacherli (120) and Murillo (106) scored pins for the Knights. Bylykbashi (126) and Logan LaRosa (170) won by decision.
The Knights finished strong, winning there last match against the Lancers, 44-36.
I don’t think we did bad,” said Dion. “We started strong and wrestled well in the first two matches. We lost one that we probably could have won in the third match. We need to grind out the close matches a little better every time. We also had a couple injuries where we sat kids against Ledyard.”
The Knights look to muscle their way back this week in their regular season finale at New Britain High School against the Golden Hurricanes.