state open wrestling Danbury wins 3rd straight Open
NEW HAVEN — Danbury wrestling coach Ricky Shook didn’t know what to expect from his relatively inexperienced team at the start of the season, but the result was what’s been come to be expected from the best team in the state.
When all was said and done the Hatters were taking home all the hardware with an excellent performance to cap the state season.
Seven place-winners was the icing on the cake from another dominant tournament for Danbury, which won its third straight State Open championship Saturday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center. The Hatters won with 158 points while Xavier took second with 109. Warde took bronze with 103 while Bristol Eastern was fourth (89) and Trumbull was fifth (78.5).
“In December I thought we’d have at least 2-3 losses in our dual-meet season, maybe more,” said Shook. “We lucked out that we were healthy most of the year; this team came from four guys in the lineup who were under .500 Jan. 1, and two of those four made it here. They came a long away from where they were, that’s the fun thing about coaching sometimes.”
Ryan Jack (126) and Kyle Fields (132) won titles for the Hatters. It was the third straight Open crown for Jack and the third time Fields defeated Westhill’s Chase Parrot (FCIACs, Class LL) in a finals round.
“By the third time obviously we know each other’s stuff,” said Fields. “It’s really about who comes out on top. The last two matches I didn’t really shoot so I tried to switch it up and shoot a little bit more and confuse him.”
Jack — who was recently ranked sixth nationally by InterMat Wresling — pinned all four opponents for his crown.
The Falcons rebounded from a disappointing Class L meet that ended with a third-place finish by taking the runner-up spot. Michael Rapuano finished first at 106 while Dylan Sousa took second at 170.
“I was proud of them, they really rebounded,” said Xavier coach Mike Cunningham. “They worked really hard and I told them from the start I thought we had a really good chance to place here. We have a lot of tough kids and if they all win a couple matches we’d have a shot.”
Rapuano became the first Xavier sophomore to win a State Open title. Sousa was nine seconds from a title before being pinned by South Windsor’s Cooper Nodden.
“(Rapuano’s) worked hard all year,” Cunningham said. “Every tournament he’s been in he’s won except for one.”
After coming oh-so-close the past two years New Canaan junior Tyler Sung finally ended his wait for a State Open crown. He won a 5-0 decision over Berlin’s Dan Veleas after coming in second at the Open the past two years.
“For me this is something that is hard to describe,” Sung said. “It’s a great moment and it’s good knowing all the hard work paid off. … I didn’t get a pin but that’s all right, I was just racking up points. He was a tough, strong kid.”
Teammate Justin Mastroianni was also crowned champion at 138 by holding off Ellis Tech’s Sean Johnson 4-3. Johnson was close to claiming the decisive points several times in the final moments before Mastroianni claimed the win.
Barlow’s Carson LiCastri didn’t break a sweat in winning the 182-pound crown, earning a pin fall win in less than 40 seconds. LiCastri claimed a dominant season in winning the SWC and Class L championships.
“I did all the basics and what I’ve been doing all year,” LiCastri said. “It was very exciting, I still can’t believe that it happened, but it meant a lot after a long season.”
The Falcons were one match away from winning SWCs but rebounded to take fourth in Class M and ninth Saturday.
“That’s been on our minds for the past couple of weeks,” LiCastri said. “That really hurt; it was really exciting to redeem us like that.”
Warde’s Joe Gjinaj defended his 195-pound title in a battle against Foran’s Nolan Bannon. Gjinaj outlasted his opponent and was able to score a late pin with 16 seconds left.
“It feels great,” Gjinaj said. “It wasn’t as pretty as I thought it would be but … (Bannon) didn’t get tired as fast. I could tell he worked hard in the offseason. He was tired in the third period, I noticed he was breathing heavy in my ear, so I knew I had the upper hand at that point.”
New Haven co-op’s Jaylin Houston completed his stellar run through the tournament as the No. 14 seed at 285 pounds, outlasting Danbury’s Jordan Agosto in the finals. Houston scored a pin in the semifinals while trailing 3-1, and won two close decisions in the earlier rounds to complete the dream ride.
“Our coaches put a lot of time in us,” said Houston, who wrestles for a team that draws from several schools in the city including Hillhouse and Wilbur Cross. “We don’t get enough recognition like some of these other schools so I thought me winning a state championship is a step in the right direction.”
Houston — who attends Engineering and Science University Magnet School — has an older brother, Jaracie, who placed sixth in the event in 2017. The younger Houston was just the second New Haven Open champion in the history of the event.
“A lot of my matches were pretty close but that last match I thought I did a pretty good job,” Houston said. “I came here wanting to win, and I won.”
Middletown’s Elijah Cyr earned a 3-2 decision win over Trumbull’s Travis Longo at 113. Norwalk’s Sam White defeated James Rondini of Platt 7-1 in the 120 finals. Michael Angers (Tolland) won at 160 while Trinidad Gonzalez (220) claimed a title for Bristol Eastern. Hunter Adams won the 152 title for Suffield/Windsor Locks.
“I got two late in the second period which was big and exciting for me; that gave me a big confidence boost going into the third period,” Cyr said. “I had to stay in good position and don’t give up any two.”
The top five finishers from each weight class advanced to next weekend’s New England championships in Providence. Kai O’Dell and Tyler Johnson won key fifth-place matches for Danbury to send the lucky seven to next week.
“It’s tied for the most we ever sent,” Shook said. “We’ll be in the thick of it next week, I don’t know where the bracket falls and where our guys fall. I don’t know if we can win, I just want our guys to wrestle their best.”
State Open wrestling
Team scores: 1. Danbury 158; 2. Xavier 109; 3. Warde 103; 4. Bristol Eastern 89; 5. Trumbull 78.5; 6. New Canaan 71; 7. Simsbury 70; 8. Southington 69; 9. Barlow 63; 9. Suffield/Windsor Locks 63 11. Northwestern 62; 12. Killingly 60; 12. Wethersfield 60; 14. Middletown 49; 15. Foran 47.5; 16. Nonnewaug 44; 17. Ellis Tech 43; 18. South Windsor 39; 18. Westhill 39. 20. Ledyard 37; 20. Shelton 37; 20. Staples 37.
106 pounds: 1st Michael Rapuano (Xavier) DEC Danny Charrono (Killingly) 11-8; 3rd Trent Thompson (Bristol Eastern) MD Josh Brault (Barlow) 13-4; 5th Kai O’Dell (Danbury) DEC Evan Lindner (New Milford) 5-0
113 pounds: 1st Elijah Cyr (Middletown) DEC Travis Longo (Trumbull) 3-2; 3rd Drew Currier (Hall) DEC Mike Charron (Killingly) 5-4; 5th Martial Sutton (Glastonbury) DEC Dylan Levesque (East Hampton) 6-0
120 pounds: 1st Sam White (Norwalk) DEC James Rondini (Platt) 7-1; 3rd Ty Finn (Simsbury) DEC Parker Sutton (Glastonbury) 3-1; 5th Tyler Johnson (Danbury) MD Abhi Bhabad (Avon) 13-4
126 pounds: 1st Ryan Jack (Danbury) F Angelo Folino (Northwestern) 3:51; 3rd Will Ebert (Fairfield Warde) DEC John Mairano (Simsbury) 1-0; 5th Peter Coniglio (New Milford) DEC Hunter Chin (New Fairfield) 4-0
132 pounds: 1st Kyle Fields (Danbury) DEC Chase Parrot (Westhill) 4-2 3rd Tom Nichols (Bristol Eastern) DEC Saul Pera (Simsbury) 1-0; 5th Devin Matthews (Gilbert) DEC Nik Accousti (Newtown) 5-1
138 pounds: 1st Justin Mastroianni (New Canaan) DEC Sean Johnson (Ellis Tech), 4-3; 3rd Shamar Schand (Manchester) FOR Matt Laurie (Wethersfield); 5th Matt Ryan (Trumbull) MD Cole Dirico (Ledyard), 12-1
145 pounds: 1st Tyler Sung (New Canaan) DEC Dan Veleas (Berlin) 5-0; 3rd Cole Shaughnessy (Warde) DEC Ben LeBlanc (Danbury) 10-7; 5th Jacob Cardozo (Southington) DEC James Lunt (Xavier) 8-2
152 pounds: 1st Hunter Adams (Suffield/Windsor Locks) PIN Shayne McCourt (Law), 2:21; 3rd Noah Zuckerman (Fairfield Warde) DEC Tommy Mazur (Westhill) 6-3; 5th Ryan Powers (Lyman Memorial/Windam Tech) DEC Nate Sibbett (New Canaan) 7-4
160 pounds: 1st Michael Angers (Tolland) MD Joshua Schwartz (Northwestern) 9-0; 3rd Miguel Gonzalez (Suffield/Windsor Locks) DEC Lazar Agoev (Ridgefield) 4-3; 5th Josh Vitti (Southington) FOR Sam Bergin (Simsbury)
170 pounds: 1st Cooper Nodden (South Windsor) PIN Dylan Sousa (Xavier) 5:51; 3rd Derek Turner (Killingly) DEC Alec Arnold (Wethersfield) 3-0; 5th Umer Khan (Foran) DEC Hunter Rasmussen (Warde) 4-3
182 pounds: 1st Carson LiCastri (Barlow) PIN Jack Cronin (Nonnewaug) 0:37; 3rd Jacob Commander (New London) DEC Joe Palmieri (Trumbull) 9-4 ; 5th Justin Osler (Branford) DEC Andrew Nanai (Greenwich) 6-1
195 pounds: 1st Joe Gjinaj (Warde) PIN Nolan Bannon (Foran) 5:44; 3rd Montez Osbey (Danbury) DEC Johnny Falco (Griswold) 7-1; 5th Jamikael Kytle (Northwestern) PIN Caleb Chesanow (Southington) 1:34
220 pounds: 1st Trinidad Gonzalez (Bristol Eastern) DEC Ray Weiner (Shelton) 2-1; 3rd George Harrington (Staples) DEC Hugh Wells (Hall) 6-4; 5th Chris Gens (Avon) DEC Austin Harnish (Wethersfield) 3-2
285 pounds: 1st Jaylin Houston (New Haven) DEC Jordan Agosto (Danbury) 7-0; 3rd Jameel Salami (Xavier) DEC Hayden Minski (Ellis Tech) 6-4; 5th Matt Weiner (Shelton) PIN Nygell Smikle (Middletown) 2:22