Overcoming a lack of experience mainly in the upper weight classes could lead the Fairfield Ludlowe wrestling team to surpass its best-ever dual-meet record from a year ago when the Falcons went 25-8. They were eighth at the Class L championship meet in February and they're aiming to place better than that this winter.
Eight talented and experienced wrestlers return for Nick Garoffolo (229-173), who is in his 16th year as a head coach. The Falcons should be quite strong in the lower and middle weight classes.
"We have a very good tournament team on the strength of eight wrestlers who can place in most tournaments," Garoffolo said. "For dual meets, it will be tough to beat last year's record. But we will still have a good winning record in duals."
The captains come from the first three weight classes. George Wales, a junior, won 42 matches a year ago, including one at the New England Championships. He was fifth in the State Open at 106 pounds and fourth in Class L. Eric Kirchgasser, who missed last year because of injury, placed fifth at 113 pounds in Class L as a sophomore in 2011-12. Ben Batulanon compiled 30 pins at 113 pounds last year when he finished third in Class L and sixth at the State Open. He has moved up to 120 pounds from where he'll aim to add to his career victory total that already is over 100.
But there is depth behind Wales and seniors Kirchgasser and Batulanon. Marcus Sherrod, a sophomore at 126 pounds, rattled off 27 wins last year. Sophomore Bobby Clark (132) got to 26 wins a year ago, Chase Lind (145) reached 29 wins in 2012-13 and junior Angel Bauro (170) had a winning record last winter. Senior Jacob Jessen earned a winning record at 220 pounds as a junior.
The season begins Dec. 21 with the Ludlowe Invitational that includes Fairfield Prep, Staples, McMahon, Harding, Bridgeport Central, Bethel, Newtown, Cheshire, New Britain, Windsor and Enfield, which the Falcons have won the past two years. They host the Ludlowe Legend Duals on Jan. 18 and the Ludlowe Classic Duals on Feb. 1. There are four away tourneys, and Warde visits Ludlowe on Feb. 11.