Health and depth have been the main concerns for the Southington wrestling team as of late, with some starters still battling injuries and illness. The Blue Knights have weathered the storm, however, with just two weeks remaining before the CCC championships, including this week.
The Knights met their biggest challenge yet in a dual meet, taking on the No. 2 ranked team in Connecticut, Simsbury. The Knights were in it for most of the meet, but the Trojans picked up some key wins by pin down the stretch.
Southington responded strongly with their performances in the Lancer Duals this past weekend. Here is what happened last week:
First dual meet loss
JAN. 29—It was a frustrating meet from the beginning between a thin lineup and some tough, long-fought matches where the Knights just came up short.
“Heading into it, I felt we could have won about nine matches,” head coach Derek Dion said. “But we had some injuries we found out the night before so we were forced to make some lineup changes. If we had our full squad healthy, I think it would have went a little different. Even the kids that lost wrestled hard and the technique was good. But we made a few mistakes here and there, and Simsbury will make you pay for any mistake.”
Three different Knights lost in a decision by three points or less, and even the wins they picked up did not come easy. Ben Gorr was the only one from Southington to win by pin, taking down Matt Putnam in 3:22 in the 120 weight class.
Darius Mangiafico defeated Simsbury’s Nate Hotchkiss by decision, 7-2, in the 126 weight class, while Josh Vitti beat Tyler Colro by decision, 8-5, in the 170 weight class. Jacob Vecchio also had to hold onto a narrow lead, defeating Tommy Frank Gullfoyle by decision, 3-1, in the 220 weight class.
Billy Carr had the largest margin of victory by decision, defeating Ryan Gullfoyle, 12-5, in the 182 weight class.
Bouncing back at Duals
FEB. 1—On just two days’ rest, the Blue Knights came back out Saturday and looked like they had put the meet against Simsbury behind them. While it was not tournament-style, Southington defeated each of three teams they matched up against, and out of their 34 individual matches, only two were losses.
While there were a number of solid performances, Vecchio and Darius Magiafico were the only two Knights to win by pin in all three of their matches. Vecchio pinned all of his opponents in less than two minutes.
Gorr, Carr, and Caleb Brick each won two by pin and one by major decision. Gorr pinned Nicholas Koops of Berlin in just 1:02 in the 126 weight class, as did Billy Carr against Alex Branco of Berlin in the 182 weight class.
Vitti and Dawsen Welch each picked up two wins by major decision, with Vitti also winning by pin against Tyler Ingemi of Waterford.
Jared Guida was in the closest-fought match but pulled away by decision, 6-3, against Tyler Barber of Berlin in the 138 weight class. Colton Thorpe and Jared Mangiafico each picked up a win by pin, with Thorpe also winning two by major decision.
“The kids bounced back pretty well,” Dion said of the performance Saturday. “They wrestled hard this weekend. While there were some holes that we were unable to fill, we only lost two matches throughout the day. “
Dion said that the lineup may continue to shake up, but the goal is to be fully healthy by the time the CCC championships come around.
“It has been tough because our lineup is so thin,” Dion said. “It is a strange year for us because our numbers are a little lower than usual. We usually have that ‘next man up’ mentality but the numbers this year make it tough. We got to head into these state tournaments making sure we are all healthy and clicking on all cylinders.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at Sports@SouthingtonObserver.com.