By BRIAN JENNINGS
Three Southington Blue Knights wrestlers signed their college letters of intent at the high school to wrestle at the next level. On Friday, April 24, Zack Murillo, Zach Bylykbashi, and Shawn Devin committed to grapple for four more years.
“Really, the story of all three of them starts with the parents that are here today,” said Southington coach Derek Dion. “Shawn’s father opened up a wrestling gym in Meriden. Bylykbashi’s and Murillo’s parents have trained them and drove them all around the country for tournaments. There is so much support from those families that made so much of an influence on their wrestling careers and in the classroom.”
During his senior season, Murillo (106) won his weight class at the Class LL State Final, the Open Championship, and made program history by becoming the first ever Southington wrestler to win the New England Championship.
Murillo was a two-time varsity captain and all-conference, holding a school career record of 120-33 (44-3 during the season). Now, he’ll turn his sights toward Wesleyan University where he’ll wrestle in the Division III program and study mathematics/pre-med.
“I didn’t want to go to a Division I school,” said Murillo. “I’ve been going intense for four years now. It’s just something I didn’t really want to do. I like how it’s intense at a Division III program, but it’s more laid back so I can really focus on my academics because that’s where I want to end up. I don’t want to be wrestling after college.”
The other schools it came down to for Murillo were the University of Pennsylvania and Brown University.
Despite a difficult senior season, Bylykbashi will be wrestling for the Division III program at Washington and Lee University in Lexington City, Va. and plans to study business.
As a senior, an early season injury led to elbow surgery, and Bylykbashi was told by his doctor that he wouldn’t be able to compete in his high school career again. Yet, the Southington co-captain proved all doubters wrong and joined Murillo at the Class LL State Final, Open Championship, and New England Championships wrestling through multiple injuries.
Bylykbashi placed as runner-up at the both the Class LL meet and the state open. He finished his career as a two-time varsity captain and was all-conference all four years. Bylykbashi holds a high school career record of 115-42, and should be a nice addition at Washington and Lee.
“They have full-time coaches that aren’t teachers, which is one of the few Division III programs to have that,” he said. “The program is up-an-coming and they’re starting to get a lot of new recruits moving forward. My coach thinks I’m going to come right away and be a part of the change. That was one of the thing they tried to sell me on. I can look back at the program when I’m standing on the podium as national champs and can say that I was part of the change.”
The other schools it came down to for Bylykbashi was Franklin and Marshall College, New York University, Sacred Heart University, and American University.
Devin had 70 high school career wins for the Knights (25-5 during the season) and was senior co-captain in his last season. Devin was a Class LL place winner and all-conference three times.
He will be wrestling for the Division III program at the University of Southern Maine and plans to study business management.
“They’re a good academic school, their business program is top-notch, and the area is awesome,” said Devin. “Their wrestling program is pretty well-known. If you ask any Division III school, they know about them. They compete hard and wrestle the best of the best for Division III. They always have top-ranked kids.”
The other schools it came down to for Devin were Daniel Webster and Springfield College.
“It’s a great thing for the program to see these guys wrestle at the next level,” said Dion. These guys have been academic and wrestling leaders for four years. I’m just really so proud to have them as part of our program.”