By BRIAN JENNINGS
In one of their busiest weeks of the regular season, it was no surprise that the Blue Knights came out of it with a top five performance at their own tournament and continued to dominate the CCC with a pair of dual meet wins.
With wins over Newington and Conard, Southington remains undefeated in the division. With only three meets remaining in the regular season, all that’s left to do now is to try to get healthy.
“We’d like to win the league, and we have a tough match against Simsbury coming up on Wednesday,” said Southington coach Derek Dion. “From there, we’re fighting a lot of injuries right now. We’re just trying to get healthy so we could give our best showing at the Class LL meet.”
Win vs. Newington
JAN. 23—The Knights began the week at home on Tuesday with a 66-10 rout of divisional Newington. The Indians forfeited five bouts and didn’t score their first points of the match until the fifth bout.
Caleb Brick (106), Jacob Cardozo (126), Jason Brault (132), Nick Mangene (138), and Josh Vitti (145) landed pins in the match. Brick recorded the fastest pin at 25 seconds into his bout.
Win at Conard
JAN. 24—The next day, the Knights earned their eighth win in dual meets and largest victory of the season with a 67-3 triumph at divisional Conard.
The Chieftains forfeited five bouts and didn’t score their first points of the match until the seventh bout, as the Knights amassed a 36-point lead. Both teams forfeited the 220-pound weight class.
Darius Mangiafico (120), Brault (132), Josh Vitti (145), Tagan Welch (152), Emmett Vitti (106), and Brick (113) landed pins in the match. Brault recorded the fastest pin at 12 seconds into his bout.
JAN. 27—A fourth-place finish out of 19 teams at their very own Connecticut Challenge on Saturday capped off the week for the Knights, as their varsity team finished with 135 points, four medalists, and two winners. Southington’s second team placed 12th with 33 points and one medalist. Ponagansett (179) fended off Bristol Eastern (175.5, 9 medalists, 1 winner) to win the tournament with seven medalists and five winners.
“It’s the most competitive tournament in Connecticut probably during the season,” said Dion. “There are a lot of good kids and teams here. It was good, and there was a lot of good wrestling.”
Shaun Wagner won the 138-pound title as the fifth seed with an 11-3 major decision over Richard Andrews of Ponagansett in the final, which solidified a fourth-place finish.
Just because it was under the light at home, it didn’t change a thing. There was no added pressure. Wagner said that he felt really good and just treated his final match like my other match.
“I hit that first double takedown and ran my feet,” said Wagner. “From there, I pretty much knew I was going to break him and win the match. I pretty much had fun with it and ran it up in my gym in front of the crowd.”
Aside from his major decision, Wagner finished the day with a pin and a pair of decisions, just squeaking into the final with a 6-5 decision over top-seeded Ryan Angers of Tolland in the semifinals.
“He drove through his shots and actually hand-fought through his shots a little better in the final,” said Dion. “Shaun had a loaded weight class, and there were battles all day. He had two really tough matches to get to the final, but I think he wrestled his best match of the day in the final.”
Paul Calo bumped up from the 170-pound weight class to win the 182-pound title by pinning Jackson King of Simsbury just 1 minute, 11 second into his championship bout.
“I wanted to get some extra competition, and it was a good experience bumping up to 182 today,” said Calo. “The kids are big and strong, so I can’t muscle every kid. You have to use more technique. It’s good practice to see what I have to work on for the next tournament. It was a smart idea.”
Calo finished the day with three pins and a bye in four bouts.
“Pauly’s on another level. I think he’s on a national level,” said Dion. “It’s hard to get a real good workout in tournaments like these. So, we tried to bump him up against some of the bigger, stronger kids, and he did well.”
Cardozo (126), Welch (152), and Mangene (145) rounded out Southington’s medalists with a pair of third-place marks and a fourth-place finish. With both teams combined, Southington entered a total of 23 wrestlers into the tournament.
The Knights will be back on the mat this week when they travel to divisional Simsbury on Wednesday, Jan. 31 and Waterford High School for the Waterford Duals on Saturday, Feb. 3. Southington is currently 8-2 in dual meets.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2018/01/29/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-feb-2-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.