By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knights wrestling team grappled with some of the best competition around the state and a couple teams from Rhode Island when they competed at the Lancer Invitation in Waterford on Saturday, Dec. 19. The Knights scored eight medals, including one division title.
Southington finished fourth (142.5) out of 12 teams, with a second, junior varsity squad battling to 12th place overall (53).
Tagan Welch paced the Knights, pinning (1:11) Tyler Radack of Waterford to win the 113 pound weight class. As the No. 6 seed, Welch stormed through his bracket with a trio of pins to score the title.
As the ninth seed, Jason Brault bounced back from a semifinal loss to score two pins in the consolation round to take Southington’s second medal in the bracket with a third place finish on the B-squad.
Shawn Wagner (126, dec. 3-2), freshman Paul Calo (132, dec. 4-3), and Austin Abacherli (138, pin 6:00) all took silver by finishing as runner-ups in their respective weight classes. Wagner and Abacherli went 2-1 in the tournament, and Calo finished with a 3-1 record.
Jason Calvi-Rogers fell to the eventual winner in the semifinals of the 170 pound brackets, but he scored a pin and a 4-2 decision in the consolation brackets to score a third place finish.
Josh Gravel rebounded from his only loss of the day to score four consecutive wins in the 152 pound division. Gravel finished the day with a 4-1 record, but settled for a third-place tie with Dan Ouelette of Jonathan Law in the consolation finals of the 152 weight class, due to the five-match rule.
Jimmy Starr also scored a tie for third place, rebounding from a loss in his debut to finish 3-1 when his opponent in the consolation finals was unable to wrestle another bout.
“It wasn’t as good as we hoped,” said Southington coach Derek Dion. “We missed a lot of opportunities out there. The kids are still settling into their weight classes and we were missing a couple kids. It’s a good starting point, letting us know where our weaknesses are and what we need to work on. We’re a little further back than we expected to be. We just have to catch up from a technique point-of-view in practice. We’re making a lot of real basic mistakes right now that hopefully some practice time can fix that. We have to progress from where we’re at and go with the guys that we have.”
Dion went on to say that there are wrestlers that will be returning from injuries soon. Others, are lost for the rest of the season due to early injuries. Dion also said that he hopes the returning wrestlers will solidify the heavier weights.
Lyman Hall-Windham Tech scored 166 points to claim the team’s first tournament championship as a co-op, edging Ellis Tech-Danielson (156) by 10 points. Southington (142.5) was edged by Waterford (146.5) to finish fourth overall.
Austin Caffrey (182) of Killingly was named outstanding wrestler of the invitational.
Earlier in the week on Thursday, the Knights traveled to Enfield where they defeated Fermi (0-1), 78-3.
The Falcons forfeited a total of 10 bouts in the match. Brault pinned (0:50, first) Shawn Keeler, Welch pinned (5:24, third) John Paul Eckel, and Logan LaRosa pinned (0:57, first) Keegan Gomeau. This is Fermi’s final wrestling season, as they will merge with Enfield next year.
Southington is 1-0 on the season and will remain out on the road this upcoming week, when they travel to Simsbury (0-1) on Wednesday, Dec. 23. Simsbury was ranked 10th in the state by the Norwich Bulletin’s state wrestling coaches poll coming into this season, but Avon handed Simsbury a 45-30 loss in their first match.
After Simsbury, the Knights are set to compete in the 49th annual George Bossi Lowell Holiday Wrestling Tournament at the Tsongus Arena in Lowell, MA on Monday, Dec. 28. The tournament is said to have been the “granddaddy of them all,” featuring over 70 teams from all over New England. Four-time champions (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014) Mount Anthony Union High School of Vermont will be in attendance, along with perennial champions Timberlane Regional High School of New Hampshire.
For more information and live results of the tournament, visit www.thelowellholidays.com.