By BRIAN JENNINGS
As the defending New England champion of the 160-pound weight class, it wasn’t surprising that 170-pounder Paul Calo was most outstanding wrestler at the Lancer Tournament at Waterford High School. It also wasn’t a surprise that Southington’s A team placed first at the Lancer Tournament and dominated the competition by beating the next closest team by over 51 points, according to Southington coach Derek Dion.
If it weren’t for facing off with one of the best teams on their schedule in their first dual meet of the regular season, the Knights might have still been undefeated by this point. But Dion said that this season is about where the team is going to finish; not where they’re starting.
“We have numerous newcomers in the lineup that I have high expectations for,” said Dion. “But we’re not there yet. So, we have to get better every single day. If we do get better, I think we can finish really strong.”
Southington’s first team placed first out of 13 schools with 217 points, eight finalists, and four individual champions. Southington entered the tournament with two teams and 28 wrestlers total. Just about every Southington wrestler won at least one match.
“I was pleased with our five upper weights,” said Dion. “Up where we were wondering what we had with the newcomers to the lineup, (Jacob) Vecchio, (Jake) Monson, and (Sebby) Lombardo all wrestled really well.”
Killingly (165.5) trailed behind Southington’s A team, followed by Lyman Memorial-Windham Tech (144). Southington’s second team placed seventh with 97.5 points.
Calo defeated defending Class M champion Mason LaFlam of Lyman Memorial-Windham Tech with a 13-2 major decision to win the 170-pound weight class and earn Most Outstanding Wrestler honors.
“Pauly handled him pretty well,” said Dion. “Pauly’s at an elite level. So, it was good work for him against a solid kid. He’s a little more aggressive, which is really what we’ve been trying to work on.”
Derek Guida tied for third in the 152-pound weight class and finished with the fastest falls in the tournament.
Other first-place finishes included Caleb Brick (113), Wagner (145), and Welch (152). Southington runners-up included Jacob Cardozo (132), Brault (138), Tim Budnik (160), Sebby Lombardo (220), and Jake Monson (285). Luca Veneziano (182) and Jacob Vecchio (220) also tied for third, and Jackson Cardozo (106) took fourth.
The tournament victory helped ease the 43-22 loss at Bristol Eastern to open the dual meet season on Wednesday. With a lot of newcomers, there’s a lot of technique that Dion and his staff are still incorporating into the program because they’re still in their teaching phase.
“There’s a lot of technique that if we had taught it before tonight’s match, then our kids probably would have won,” said Dion. “We’re a different team in January than we are in December. We’re intentionally wrestling out of shape and out of our weight classes so we can peak at the end of the season.”
The Lancers jumped out to a 12-point lead with pins in the first two bouts, but the Knights battled back to exchange three lead changes with Lances until the overall match score was knotted in the 10th bout. The Lancers eventually pulled away with the help of three-straight pins in the final four bouts.
Southington winners from the match included Jacob Cardozo (132), Jason Brault (138), Shaun Wagner (145), Tagan Welch (152), Calo (170), and Caleb Chesanow (182). Calo was the only Knight to come away with a pin.
The Knights will be back on the mats this week when they host divisional Farmington on Wednesday, Dec. 20 in their lone match of the week.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/12/19/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-dec-22-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.