By BRIAN JENNINGS
Even the flu couldn’t stop Blue Knight wrestlers. Up and down the roster, Southington was battling the bug, but the team still posted one of its best weeks yet. With a lopsided dual meet victory, the Knights remained on top of the conference. As runners-up at one of the top out-of-state tournaments in New England, the Knights remain a top team in the region.
“The whole team had the flu last week, and it kind of set us back,” said Southington coach Derek Dion. “We gave them Saturday, Sunday, and Monday off. I was hoping that staying away from each other and resting a little bit would help them come back a little better.”
Even though they weren’t 100 percent when they headed up to the Timberlane Tournament in Plaistow, N.H. on Saturday, Dion said that Southington’s second place finish was no surprise.
“There are always one or two pretty good teams up there,” the coach said. “There have been some other good teams up there, but Timberlane is tough to crack. They’ve been top three in New England for the last 15 to 20 years or so.
Win vs. Hall
JAN. 18—The Knights began the week by earning their ninth win of the season in a 50-25 victory over Hall at home on Wednesday.
“They wrestle tough,” said Dion. “I was impressed with Hall’s kids. (Anthony) Weber does a great job over there. The kids are really going after wrestling tough. We had four really good matchups, which is what we were hoping for.”
The Knights jumped out to an early 12-0 advantage with pins from Austin Abacherli (152), Paul Calo (160). But the Knights struggled from 170 lbs. to 195 lbs., allowing the Warriors to take a brief four-point lead, 16-12.
“We have a lot of work to do,” the coach said. “We’re a little bit inexperienced in those weight classes comparatively to our lighter weights. The whole team is kind of getting over the flu from last week, so we’re trying to get them back into some kind of cardiovascular shape.”
Other pins from the match came from Richie Rivera (220), Jimmy Starr (285), Caleb Brick (106), Jacob Cardozo (113), and Tim Budnik (145). Shaun Wagner (132) clinched the win with a 10-2 major decision.
Budnik scored the fastest pin at 14 seconds into his bout. Calo secured a pin with three seconds remaining in his bout. Southington forfeited the 126-pound weight class.
“It’s a process,” said Dion. “We try to get a little bit better every day. “We got set back a little last week, which was a little disappointing. But hopefully we’ll get back on track and start getting the kids going to where they need to be.”
JAN. 21—The Knights hit the road for their third out-of-state tournament of the season on Saturday.
“The kids wrestled pretty tough, and everyone that we brought wrestled hard up there,” said Dion. “It was a good weekend for us. The kids got to hang out, stay overnight, and have fun together.”
Southington traveled to Plaistow, NH to wrestle in the Timberlane Tournament, finishing as runner-up with 185 points to host Timberlane (267.5). It was the best finish for the Knights at the tournament since taking second in 2013. Timberlane’s B team took fifth.
“We wanted to get up there and compete with them as best as we could,” the coach said. “We were in first place right before the semifinals, but they ran away from us for a little while. We weren’t able to catch back up.”
The Knights finished with three individual champions—Austin Abacherli (152), Paul Calo (160), and Richie Rivera (220)—and four finalists. Shaun Wagner (132) finished as runner-up, Caleb Brick (106) and Jacob Cardozo (113) each took third, and Tagan Welch (138) finished fourth.
Southington will be back on the mat next week when they travel to Newington on Wednesday, Jan. 25 and return home to host the Connecticut Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 28. The Knights are currently 9-1 overall.