Fairfield Warde High School wrestlers finished third in the State Open tournament on Saturday in New Haven, as Danbury High claimed the championship and New Milford finished second.
Danbury's team scored a dominating victory, with wrestlers winning individual titles -- Kevin Jack (126 pounds) won his third and Paulo Freitas (106), Chris Bryant (120) and Juan Garcia (170) also won -- as the Hatters piled up 141 points.
Second-place New Milford had 114.5 points, led by 113-pound champion Kyle Lindner.
Third-place Warde tallied 89 points, led by 285-pound champ Ahmed Hourani.
For Danbury, it was a dominating response to a week's worth of question-marks.
"I am absolutely proud of my team," Garcia said. "This whole weekend, we fought hard. We didn't want to be proven wrong with all the talking about last week's performance. We wanted to prove this weekend that we're still on top.
"We worked really hard this week, because third isn't good enough for us," Garcia added.
The Hatters were determined to put the LLs behind them, and they spent this past week preparing and refocusing for the Open. They came in with a chip on their shoulder and dared the rest of the state to try and knock it off.
"It's nice after last weekend not getting first at LLs," Jack said. "This weekend, we came together as a team and did what we wanted to do."
Also for Danbury, Jeremy Fields wrestled all the way back to take third at 113 pounds.
"The question I got all week was `What happened?'" Danbury coach Ricky Shook said. "Things do happen sometimes.
"We had to prove ourselves to ourselves this weekend," Shook continued. "I don't know the last time we placed third in a class tournament. There are no excuses other than last week we didn't hold it together as a team. This week, we did.
"Jeremy Fields was just as important as those champs," Shook added. "He wrestled all the way back and took third in his first Open tournament."
New Milford's Lindner was trailing in the third period of the 113-pound championship match against Warde freshman Timmy Kane, but he turned a quick takedown with 1:19 remaining into a pin just a few seconds later. Read Full Article
"Kyle works really hard and he's an outstanding wrestler," New Milford coach Chris Piel said. "He's one of those kids that you just enjoy watching wrestle. It's like poetry in motion."
Also for New Milford, Brett Leonard (145) finished fourth and Halim Bourjeli (106), Niko Stefanatos (126) and Zachary Arnold (138) all took fifth.
Newtown freshman Anthony Falbo captured the 152-pound title -- and continued the unbeaten start to his high-school career -- with a 7-3 win over Max Odell of South Windsor in the championship match.
"I can't believe it myself," Falbo said. "I've been working hard. It feels like a dream."
After a scoreless first period, Falbo started the second period on defense and scored a two-point reversal with 27 seconds to go in the period to take the lead. With the score tied at 2 in the third period, Falbo scored a takedown with 1:33 to go and collected three back-points to seal the win.
It's been quite a breakout season for the Nighthawks, who last week announced their presence among the state wrestling powerhouses by winning their first Class LL state title. Also for Newtown, James Leuci (132) placed third.
Trumbull's Andrew Marino won a thrilling 4-3 decision in overtime in the 220-pound final over Andrew Cavanno of Glastonbury. Marino started the fourth overtime period on defense and scored a one-point escape 10 seconds in to win in sudden death.
"It was close, and I thought `manage my match.' Just like my father told me, `manage my match,' and I'll come out on top," Marino said.
Also for Trumbull, Cross Cannone (126) took runner-up honors and Kevin Cecio (132) and Steven Briganti (152) both placed fifth.
Warde's Hourani pinned Bristol Eastern's Kyle Porter in 2:29 in a rematch of the Class L final from last week. Hourani won that one by pin in 29 seconds.
"He took it to a whole new level tonight," Hourani said. "He learned and he grew, and tonight he brought what he had."
Other wrestlers to place among the top six included Warde's, Daniel Ebert (126), Barlow/Immaculate's Emmett LiCastri (132) and Oxford's Steve Persson (160) in third; Foran's Jacob Pouliot (113) and Fairfield Prep's Nicholas Crowle (285) in fourth; Ludlowe's Benjamin Batulanon (120), New Fairfield's Andrew D'Amico (160), Foran's Zachary Hubler (195), McMahon's Justis Lewis (220) and Oxford's Daniel Carbonaro (285) in fifth; and Ludlowe's George Wales (106), Ridgefield's Kevin Side (132) and Bethel's Brendan MacIntryre (182) in sixth.
"It was a fantastic day for the southwest corner of Connecticut, with Danbury, New Milford and Newtown doing as well as they did," Piel said.
The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to next weekend's New England championships in Providence.