By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington wrestling’s performance at this past weekend’s state open didn’t live up to the high expectations of coach Derek Dion.
“We lost a lot of close matches today,” Dion said following Saturday’s competition. “We didn’t wrestle well, we didn’t wrestle well particularly in the third period, so it was very disappointing as a team. We had about as bad a tournament as I thought we could have had. A lot of kids didn’t get to meet their goals this weekend, so it’s tough.”
The Blue Knights brought eight wrestlers to the open, but just three placed when the two-day meet ended on Feb. 23. Senior Jacob Cardozo (145 pounds) and junior Josh Vitti (160) each finished in fifth place and qualified for the New England championship meet this weekend in Providence, R.I.
Senior Caleb Chesanow (195) finished sixth in his weight class and didn’t move on to the regional competition. The top five in each weight class will represent Connecticut at the New England championship.
Danbury won the state open team title (158) and was followed by Xavier (109), Fairfield Warde (103) and Bristol Eastern (89). Southington finished eighth with 69 team points.
Cardozo started the 145 bracket with a bye, then took a 14-3 major decision over Manchester’s Raul Mateo. After a 5-4 decision against Xavier’s James Lunt, Cardozo lost a tough 7-6 bout against Berlin’s Daniel Veleas.
Dion said Cardozo went to adjust his headgear, got caught and gave up four points for a 7-3 lead. Cardozo got two points back on a reversal and another when Veleas was called for stalling, but it was too late.
“It was one of those days where little things like that were happening all over the place,” Dion said. “It was a rough day. We certainly didn’t wrestle close to our best.”
Cardozo lost his consolation semifinal bout 5-0 to Warde’s Cole Shaughnessy, the opponent he beat to win his Class LL title. In the fifth place bout at 145, Cardozo beat Lunt for the second time, this one an 8-2 decision. Cardozo fell behind Lunt 2-0 after the first period, but picked up three points on a nearfall for a 3-2 lead which held after two periods. An escape, a takedown and a nearfall gave Cardozo five points in the final period.
Vitti started the 160 bracket with a 13-5 major decision over E.O. Smith’s Ben Holden. Vitti won an 8-3 decision over Griswold’s Dakota Gardner, but lost his championship quarterfinal to Simsbury’s Sam Bergin in a 13-8 decision.
Vitti took his first two consolation matches by decision, 8-5 over Avon’s Jack Colman and 6-4 over Fairfield Prep’s Dean Tsiranides. He lost his consolation semifinal, 5-2, to Ridgefield’s Lazar Agoev. Vitti took a forfeit over Bergin in the fifth place bout.
“He wrestled tough, he wrestled tough all weekend,” Dion said. “I’m really proud of his effort this weekend.”
Chesanow won his first three 195 bouts by pin over Gilbert’s Kevin Sullivan (2:45), Daniel Hand’s Alec Dube (3:58) and Northwestern Regional’s Jamikael Lytle (1:41). Chesnaow lost a 5-3 decision to eventual state open champion Joe Gjinaj of Warde in the championship semifinal.
In the consolation semifinal, Danbury’s Montez Osbey won a 10-4 decision over Chesanow. In the fifth place bout, Lytle pinned Chesanow (1:41).
It was the final time wrestling in a Southington uniform for Chesanow, along with fellow seniors Jason Brault (138) and Matt Jacobson (182). Juniors Billy Carr (170) and Jacob Vecchio (220) also saw their seasons end, as did freshman Ben Gorr (113).
Cardozo and Vitti will find out what the rest of New England has to offer when they compete in that two-day meet this weekend at the Providence Career & Technical Academy. Cardozo didn’t have a great ending to the state portion of his career, but he can still do damage at New Englands in what will be his second appearance.
“There’s no reason he can’t beat any kid here at 145, there’s no reason why he couldn’t go out there and place there,” Dion said. “He’s had an injury for the past few weeks and has been toughing it out. He’s a tough kid, he’s a really tough kid.”
As for Vitti, this is his first trip to New Englands.
“He’s wrestling great, he’s wrestling the best that he’s wrestled all year right now,” Dion said. “Go up there, win some matches, just wrestle and battle, and who knows?”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com