By KEVIN ROBERTS
It all came down to the last bout of the last match of the day for Southington wrestling at its own SHS Duals last Saturday. Across the mat from Southington was New England powerhouse Mt. Anthony Union of Vermont.
The weight was 182 pounds, and the matchup was Southington’s Matt Jacobson against MAU’s Logan Spargue. The Patriots led the Blue Knights 36-34, and all Southington varsity eyes were trained on the Jacobson-Spargue match.
The two 182-pounders battled into the third period, then Jacobson got Spargue on his back. Spargue tried to wriggle free, but Jacobson kept him on his back. With 22 seconds left in the period, the referee banged his hand on the mat. Jacobson won, and so did Southington, 40-36 over MAU.
“I’m so happy for that kid. He has worked so hard, and he’s in such a tough part of the lineup,” Southington coach Derek Dion said of Jacobson. “He committed himself in the offseason, he works out, he works his butt off every day. For him to come through on that, I’m so happy for him. I love to watch him shine, all of his teammates rallied behind him, and it was awesome.”
Southington defeated Amity 68-12 and NFA 52-26 in its pool, then took down Nashua South (N.H.) 66-15 in a semifinal dual. The Blue Knights had never topped the Patriots until last Saturday.
“It was great competition all day. Twelve good teams, twelve full teams,” Dion said. “To come out on top against a powerhouse like Mt. Anthony is great. It was really good, so we’re happy.”
Southington and MAU started at 195 pounds with a battle of 2018 New England champions. Paul Calo was ahead 9-3 on MAU’s Sampson Wilkins before Calo inadvertently hit Wilkins in the mouth with his head 10 seconds into the third period. Wilkins was bleeding and had to default due to injury. An injury default counts the same as a pin for team points, so the Blue Knights led 6-0.
After a MAU pin from Chris Mayer at 220, Southington’s Jacob Vecchio and MAU’s Hayden Gaudette tussled through three periods at 285 and needed overtime to settle a 1-1 tie. Vecchio got the takedown, sudden victory and put the Blue Knights ahead 9-6.
“Vecchio was bumped up to heavyweight. He just battled, battled, battled, got the takedown at the end to win it. It was incredible,” Dion said.
MAU took a forfeit and 12-9 lead after 106. At 113, freshman Ben Gorr came out firing on all cylinders and pinned Sam Blackman with just nine seconds showing on the first quarter clock. Gorr’s fourth win, and fourth pin, of the day put Southington back on top 15-12.
“Ben Gorr, he’s been sick all week. He toughed it out, came out here and wrestled his [butt] off all day,” Dion said.
MAU had picked up another forfeit at 120 for an 18-15 lead. At 126, Caleb Brick took it to MAU’s Kyle Hurley and pinned him with 24 seconds left in the first period for a 21-18 Southington advantage.
“Brick wrestled a really good kid, a Vermont place-winner, and came up big,” Dion said.
A MAU forfeit at 132 put Southington ahead 27-18, but the Patriots got a pin from Keenan Taylor at 138 to cut the deficit to 27-24. Jacob Cardozo won a 10-2 major decision over Keegan Coon, the son of Patriots coach Brian Coon, to increase the Blue Knight lead to 31-24.
“Cardozo wrestled the coach’s kid, who is excellent,” Dion said. “He took fifth in New England, and Cardozo really stuck it to him, really wrestled hard. That was one of the marquee matchups.”
MAU got a pin from Gage McLaughlin at 152 to make the score 31-30. At 160, Josh Vitti worked his way to a 4-1 decision over Steven Brillon. The Vitti win put Southington up 34-30.
“Vitti wrestled great and smart, really went after it,” Dion said.
The Patriots took their first lead since 18-15 when Adam Frost pinned Billy Carr 51 seconds into the third period.
“Billy Carr had a really tough battle,” Dion said. “He had a leg rider, so it’s really hard to come through, but he was winning, he was going after it, he wrestled tough all day.”
MAU was ahead 36-34 with one match left, but Jacobson had Southington’s final pin, and victory belonged to the Blue Knights.
“For us to come in and battle up and down the lineup, I’m really impressed with my kids,” Dion said. “I’m really proud of them.”
The Blue Knights improved to 5-1 in dual meets this season.
NOTES: Gorr and Brick both went 4-0, and each wrestler won all four bouts by pin. Cardozo, Vitti, Calo and Vecchio also went 4-0 on the day. Mangiafico and Carr each finished the day 3-1.
Win vs. Farmington
DEC. 20—In a dual meet that had 11 forfeits, the Blue Knights picked up a victory over the Indians in Farmington.
Gorr won via pin in 1:41 at 113 pounds. The other nine Southington wins were by forfeit. The Blue Knight forfeit winners were Brick (126), Mangiafico (132), Dawsen Welch (138), Cardozo (145), Vitti (160), Carr (170), Calo (182), Vecchio (220) and Sam McCarty (285). Southington forfeited at 106 and 120 and lost via pin at 152 and 195.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com