By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington wrestling found itself in another tight dual meet against a Top 10 state foe on the night of Jan. 31 inside the Walt Lozoski Gymnasium. Just like the season opener against Bristol Eastern, the Jan. 31 dual meet against Simsbury came down to the final bout.
Unfortunately for the Blue Knights, the result was the same. Southington got pinned, and its opponent claimed the victory. Simsbury won the match, 38-31, and claimed the CCC West Division title. The Trojans do have one dual meet left, but they almost certainly clinched the division against the Knights.
“We had a couple kids out of the lineup tonight, which ended up costing us,” Southington coach Derek Dion said. “They wrestled really tough, I think a lot of our kids wrestled tough. We were trading threes for sixes, you can’t do that. They just outwrestled us a little bit in some weight classes, but we got to lick our wounds and get ready for states.”
The Knights, which fell to 9-2 (4-1 CCC West), was scheduled to wrestle at New Britain on Wednesday in their final dual meet of the season. After that, the next stop is the postseason. Southington will wrestle in the Class LL state championship meet on Feb. 15 and 16 at Trumbull High School.
The Knights wrestled without senior captains Jason Brault and Paul Calo against the Trojans. Calo’s senior season is over because of a torn labrum.
“Jason Brault was nursing an injury,” Dion said. “Without those two, it makes it very difficult, two senior captains. Paulie had his surgery [Jan. 31], hopefully he’s feeling better and he’ll be ready for his college career.”
Southington started the Simsbury dual meet with wins at 170, 182, 195 and 220 pounds to build an 18-0 lead. Billy Carr had a pin at 170 (1:33), Matt Jacobson won a 9-6 decision at 182, Caleb Chesanow took a pin at 195 (2:34) and Jacob Vecchio claimed a 4-3 decision at 220.
A pin at 285 and a forfeit at 106 brought the Trojans to within 18-12, but a 12-2 major decision in favor of Ben Gorr at 113 put the Knights up 22-12. Southington wouldn’t win another bout until Jacob Cardozo at 145.
Simsbury won the 120, 126, 132 and 138 bouts – by pin, technical fall, pin and decision – to build a 32-22 lead. Cardozo scored a pin with 29 seconds left in the second period of his 145 bout to get Southington to within 32-28. Josh Vitti pulled the Knights to within 32-31 with his 10-3 decision at 152, but a final Trojan pin at 160 gave the visitors the victory and a chance to celebrate.
“These are the matches you live for. It comes down to the last match, just like the Eastern match,” Dion said. “Win or lose, I’ll take a match like this. I would rather lose a match like this than win an easy match. It’s a great learning experience, a great atmosphere. It’s good for wrestling, it’s good for the sport, we had guys from all around the state, so it was great. It was disappointing for us. We got to get the job done and we didn’t.”
Southington honored its seniors before the dual meet. The Knight seniors are Brault, Calo, Cardozo, Chesanow, Jacobson, Derek Guida, Sam McCarty, Colby Johnson and Kevin Perez.
Southington wins all 3 contests in Waterford
The Knights had a good day at the Waterford Duals on Feb. 2, defeating host Waterford (52-28), along with Ledyard (46-27) and Bunnell of Stratford (63-18).
Darius Mangiafico (126/132), Jacobson (182), Chesanow (195) and Vecchio (220) all had three pins on the way to perfect 3-0 records for the day. Gorr (113: 2 pins, 1 forfeit), Cardozo (145: 2 pins, 1 forfeit), Josh Vitti (160: 2 pins, 1 major) and Carr (170: 1 major, 2 decisions) also went 3-0 on the day for Southington.
“The kids wrestled pretty tough, especially Billy Carr,” Dion said.
Carr was not feeling 100 percent, according to Dion, but still managed to beat all three of his opponents at 170.
Up next: Southington was scheduled to face New Britain on the road Wednesday in its final dual meet of the regular season.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com