Related topics

SWC Wrestling Championships Nighthawks pull off thrilling win

February 10, 2019 GMT

NEW FAIRFIELD — After a long weekend, the South-West Conference wresting championships fell on the broad shoulders of Newtown’s 285-pounder Joey Zeller in the final match of the evening at New Fairfield High School.

At the time, Newtown trailed upstart Barlow by four points. With just one more decision, Newtown would tie Barlow for the title.

But a major victory would wrap the whole thing up for the Nighthawks, giving the squad their second league title in four years.

Zeller’s approach was simple. “I never even really looked at the clock,” the senior said. “If it happens, it happens.”


With 14 seconds left, his teammates literally sat on the edge of their seats along the mat and Barlow anxiously looking on as well, Zeller took down Brookfield’s Rich Mitchell for the points that put Newtown over-the-top.

Newtown won the SWC championship by a point over Barlow, 137-136.

“Every single match counts,” said Newtown coach Ron Chivinski, whose team placed four wrestlers in the consolation round, winning two, and getting four finalists. “Every single kid who won a match here, determined us winning here. That’s it. This was a team effort.

“We set our goal at the beginning of the year, and that was win an SWC championship, and they accomplished that. There’s something to be said about that.”

Indeed, Newtown’s performance throughout the weekend helped the Nighthawks build a 12-point lead over Barlow heading into the finals.

Both teams placed four wrestlers in the finals, but none of them were matched against each other.

But while Barlow claimed victories from Josh Brault at 106, Charlie Prather (by pin) at 113 and another huge pin by tournament MVP Carson Licastri in the 182-pound match, Newtown’s first three wrestlers lost.

Bethel’s Eamon Tolland-Matos surrendered a point in the final seconds or regulation, but held off Newtown’s Nik Accousti in overtime with a 6-4 decision at 132. Masuk’s Curtis Fedorko — the winner of the SWC tournament’s career award — defeated Fritz Maurath at 145 and Masuk’s Jason Lobdell defeated Newtown’s Andrew Sayers at 152.

Those results put Barlow ahead 132-130 and gave it a chance to clinch.

But in the 220 match, Weston’s Joe McGuire pinned Ben Bai in 1:50, setting up the thrilling finale.

“They knew it was in their hands and they went out and battled and Barlow brought it, they really did,” saidChivinski, whose team lost to Barlow, 45-27, in the regular-season finale on Monday. “Things weren’t going our way, but we still had a chance in the end.”


Zeller built a 7-1 lead over Mitchell in the third period. They were grappling and on their feet with 20 seconds left in the match. Mitchell tried to force the issue, but Zeller countered and dropped Mitchell for the takedown.

“He was getting mad that he couldn’t move me,” Zeller said. “So I just smacked him down. He pretty much helped me.

“It felt amazing. I’d do anything for these guys. They’re my family. I love these guys.”

It was heartbreak for Barlow, in only its eighth season of competition, competing as a solo outfit for only the second year. The Falcons were runner-up to New Milford last season and were confident they could win the title.

“We liked our chances and we did very well,” Barlow coach Phil LiCastri said. “We had more champions than we’ve ever had and we keep getting better every year. This will make us work that much harder and we’ll have to find a way. The little things have the greatest impact, so we’ll keep looking forward.”

Barlow had a pair of consolation winners, which helped it edge closer to Newtown for the final round.

“Obviously, it hurts, we were so close,” Carson LiCastri said. “But it felt good getting to this point. We’ve come so far as a team over the last eight years. It still feels good to be one of the best in the SWC.”

New Fairfield finished third with 130 points, winning all three of its championship matches. Julian Soares posted a major decision over Pomperaug’s David Jutcawicz at 120; Hunter Chin held off New Milford’s Peter Coniglio, 4-3, at 126; Coleman Douchette pinned Notre Dame-Fairfield’s Mike Agate at 170.

Defending champion New Milford, which had won three straight and 11 of the last 12 titles, finished fourth with 109.50 points. Rich Morrell’s 4-1 victory over Masuk’s Zach Minch was the Green Wave’s champion.

Brookfield took fifth with two champions, Weston was sixth and Masuk, with two champions, finished sixth.

SWC Wrestling Championship

Team results: 1. Newtown, 137; 2. Barlow, 136; 3. New Fairfield, 130; 4. New Milford, 109.5; 5. Brookfield, 109; 6. Weston, 104; 7. Masuk, 101; 8. Pomperaug, 96.5; 9. Bunnell, 87; 10. Bethel, 68; 11. Notre Dame-Fairfield, 25; 12. Stratford, 24


106: Josh Brault, Barlow def. Evan Linder, 4-2 OT; 113: Charlie Prather, Barlow pinned Mike Carpenter, Pomperaug. 3:45; 120: Julian Soares, New Fairfield maj. dec. David Jutcawicz, Pomperaug, 18-7 126: Hunter Chin, New Fairfield dec. Peter Coniglio, New Milford, 4-3; 132: Eamon Tolland-Matos dec. Nik Accousti, Newtown, 6-4 OT; 138: Louis Stabile, Brookfield pinned Julian Dematteo, Bunnell, 5:39; 145: Curtis Fedorko, dec. Fritz Maurath, Newtown, 6-1; 152: Jason Lobdell, Masuk dec. Andrew Sayers, Newtown, 4-1; 160: Rich Morrell, New Milford dec. Zach Minch, Masuk, 4-1; 170: Coleman Douchette, New Fairfield pinned Mike Agate, Notre Dame-Fairfield, 3:33; 182: Carson LiCastri, Barlow pinned Austin Pompa, Masuk, 1:57; 195: Joe McGuire, Weston pinned Coleman DeLeo, Masuk, 4:15; 220: Adam Frame, Brookfield pinned Ben Bai, Barlow, 1:50; 285: Joe Zeller, Newtown maj. dec. Rich Mitchell, Brookfield, 9-1.