With six champions, Danbury dominates
at the State Open
By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Connecticut Wrestling Online
NEW HAVEN, Feb. 25 – Danbury High coach Ricky Shook was hoping to get two wrestlers to the championship round of the State Open Saturday in New Haven and thought that his Hatters could bring seven wrestlers to next weekend’s New England championships. That would require finishing in the top five of their respective weight classes.
No problem. Danbury put seven wrestlers into the finals and had a record six State Open champions as the Hatters put together one of the most dominant performances in tournament history. Not only did Danbury have six champions but they scored a record 212½ points and set a new tournament record for the largest margin of victory – 122½ points.
Danbury won the State Open for the first time since 2014. Newtown was a distant second with 90 points followed by Fairfield Warde (86½), Southington (85½) and Ellis Tech (84½). The previous record for winning the tournament was 60 points by Danbury in 2005.
Danbury’s Jakob Camacho (120) won his second straight State Open championship while teammates Ryan Jack (106), Kyle Fields (126), Jake Costantine (182), Andrew Marquis (220) and Michael Gaboardi (285) also brought home Open titles.
“They wrestled really well,” Shook said. “We got it done. I didn’t expect this. We thought we might have two wrestlers in the finals but we wrestled well.
It’s not an old team, either. Constantine, Marquis and Gaboardi are seniors. But Jack is a freshman, Fields is a sophomore and Camacho is a junior. Alan Kovacs is a freshman who finished second at 134 pounds, pushing three-time Open champion Tim Kane of Fairfield Warde right to the edge before Kovacs dropped a one point decision.
Shook credited some of the tough competition that his team has seen along the way this season for preparing his wrestlers for post-season action. The Hatters had their traditional dual meets with Mt. Anthony, Vt., and Timberlane, N.H., along with participating in the Eastern States Classic tournament in New York and the Spartan Invitational in Sanford, Maine. He also added an appearance at the Beast of the East tournament in Delaware.
“It definitely benefitted them,” Shook said. “That’s why they are winning those close matches. They’ve been in them all year. They’re battle tested.”
Connecticut hasn’t had a New England championship team since 1992 when Windham won a championship. The Hatters won in 1990. Connecticut teams have finished second for four of the last five years – Newtown in 2016 and 2015, Danbury in 2014 and Hand in 2012.
“Hats off to them,” Newtown coach Chris Bray said of Danbury. “They are doing things right.”
Danbury broke the record for most winners of five set by Greenwich in 1965 and tied by Conard in 1968. Danbury had four champions in 2014 and 2004.
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One wrestler who wasn’t in the gym was Newtown senior Anthony Falbo, who missed virtually the entire season with an undisclosed injury. Falbo, who won three straight State Open titles from 2014-16, got hurt in an offseason wrestling tournament.
“He was hoping it would heal but it didn’t materialize,” Bray said. “When he wrestles, he wrestles at a high level. That requires his body to be close to 100 percent. But he has a big collegiate career ahead of him.”
Falbo signed a letter of intent to wrestle at Purdue next winter and Bray said he’ll be ready to compete next season.
He did wrestle in a dual meet against New Milford and picked up two forfeits to finish his high school career with a record of 133-2. He won three State Open titles and a New England title in 2016. A year ago, he went 50-0 in New England. He was a two-time National High School Coaches Association national champion as a junior (170) and a sophomore (160).
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Danbury had two freshmen in the finals on Saturday. Freshman Ryan Jack won his first State Open title. Jack outlasted Class L champion Jared Kosman of Fitch in the semifinals with a 4-3 decision, hitting a two-point reversal with six seconds remaining to win the match.
In the championship match, Jack had an escape and takedown early in the second period to build a 5-0 lead. Trailing 3-0, Bristol Central’s Christopher Trelli (40-4) went in for a takedown and shot too low. Jack spun round to take the takedown and control of the match.
Kosman finished third with a 3-0 win over Benjamin Smart of Ridgefield, who won four matches in the consolation bracket including a 10-8 win in overtime over Killingly’s Danny Charron.
2017 State Open
At New Haven
Team results -- 1. Danbury 212½; 2. Newtown 90; 3. Fairfield Warde 86½; 4. Southington 85½; 5. Ellis Tech 84½; 6. Montville and New Milford 83; 8. Xavier 65; 9. Trumbull 63½; 10. Foran 60½; 11. Ledyard 53; 12. Bristol Eastern 52; 13. Shelton 51; 14. Somers 49; 15. Simsbury 48½; 16. Windham 45; 17. Fitch 43½; 18. Tolland 43; 19. Hand, Granby and New London 40; 22. Berlin 39; 23. Platt 36½; 24. Northwestern 36; 25. Killingly 33½; 26. Masuk 32½; 27. Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech 32; 28. Ridgefield 31½; 29. East Hartford and Middletown 31; 31. Haddam-Killingworth 30½; 32. New Fairfield 30; 33. Wilton 29½; 34. Bethel and Conard 29; 36. Bristol Central 24½; 37. E.O. Smith 23; 38. New Canaan and Pomperaug 22; 40. Branford and Hall 20; 42. South Windsor and Terryville 18; 44. Greenwich, Guilford and Suffield 17; 47. New Haven 13; 48. Jonathan Law, Maloney, Notre Dame-Fairfield 12; 51. Nonnewaug and Staples 11; 53. Cheshire, Bunnell, Manchester 9; 56. East Windsor and Fairfield Prep 8; 58. Immaculate/Joel Barlow 7; 59. Warren Harding, Morgan, RHAM, St. Bernard/Norwich Tech, East Haven and Weston 6; 65. Darien and Waterford 5; 67. Derby, East Catholic, Fairfield Ludlowe, New Britain, Notre Dame-West Haven and Oxford 4; 73. Newington, Norwalk, Stamford 3; 76. Westhill 2½; 77. Rocky Hill and Canton 2, 79. Amity, Bloomfield, Brookfield, Coventry, Enfield, Farmington, Wethersfield, Glastonbury, Griswold, Plainville, Portland, Rockville, St. Paul, Stafford,
Final - Ryan Jack (Danbury) dec. Christopher Trelli (Bristol Central), 5-0; 3. Jarod Kosman (Fitch) dec. Benjamin Smart (Ridgefield), 4-0; 5. Steven Reyes (Shelton) dec. Travis Longo (Wilton), 2-1 OT
Final - Nick Arborio (Berlin) dec. Sean Johnson (Ellis Tech), 4-3; 3. Alejandro Garcia (Windham) dec. Devon Schoenberger (South Windsor), 13-7; 5. Robert Hartling (E.O. Smith) dec. Matthew Ryan (Trumbull), 1-0
Final - Jakob Camacho (Danbury) pin Chandler Duhaime (Shelton), 3:34; 3. Collin Lindner (New Milford) pin Michael Fedorko (Masuk), 2:28; 5. Mark Hartmann (Daniel Hand) dec. Bo Nguyen (Ledyard), 11-2
Final - Kyle Fields (Danbury) dec. Tyler Sung (New Canaan), 5-2; 3. Mel Ortiz (New Milford) dec. Tristan Haviland (Trumbull), 4-3; 5. Noah Caskey (Montville) dec. Jesse Walker (Ridgefield), 15-6
Final - Baltazar Gonzalez (Ellis Tech) dec. Joel Morth (Montville), 5-3; 3. Ryan Angers (Tolland) win by medical forfeit over Patrick Moynihan (Xavier); 5. Demetre Carnot (Maloney) dec. Alex Steele (Fairfield Warde), 7-5
Final - Timmy Kane (Fairfield Warde) dec. Alan Kovacs (Danbury), 6-5; 3. Charles Schultz (New Milford) dec. Joshua Kowalski (Simsbury), 4-3; 5. Cole Blair (Ellis Tech) forfeit over Hunter Adams (Suffield)
Final - Ryan Luth (Foran) dec. Avery Shay (New Fairfield), 7-6; 3. Edward Lovely (Newtown) dec. Michael Mirmina (Trumbull), 8-2; 5. Samuel Kury (Montville) dec. Cooper Fleming (Granby Memorial), 3-2
Final - Michael Ross (Foran) tech fall Michael Angers (Tolland), 15-0, 3:40; 3. Austin Abacherli (Southington) dec. Tom Gatti (Middletown), 6-1; 5. Mathew Pangle (Pomperaug) dec. Jeffrey Suschana (Somers), 8-4
Final - Ryan Devivo (Xavier) dec. Paul Calo (Southington), 5-3 OT; 3. Michael Barrett (Bristol Eastern) dec. Michael Ceci (Greenwich), 5-3, OT; 5. Gino Baratta (Danbury) dec. Jacob Millbach (Ledyard), 1-0
Final - Joe Accousti (Newtown) pin Benjamin Kibby (Granby Memorial), 5:51; 3. Collin Crader (Ledyard) dec. Zach Caffrey (Killingly), 6-4 OT; 5. Matheus Ribeiro (Fairfield Warde) pin Mason Laflam (Lyman
Memorial/Windham Tech), 1:54
Final - Jake Constantine (Danbury) dec. Fransisco Jiminian (East Hartford), 9-5; 3. Emanuel Diaz (Montville) dec. Michael Sullivan (Ledyard), 7-4; 5. David Wyzykowski (Haddam-Killingworth) dec. Brett Nutter (Trumbull),
Final - Jackson Rheault (Somers) dec. David Verizzi (Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech), 7-3; 3. Gabriel Schwartz (Northwestern) dec. Ray Weiner (Shelton), 5-4; 5. Dakota Grover (Fitch) pin Kevin Brocksom (Jonathan Law), 1:33
Final - Andrew Marquis (Danbury) dec. Thomas Long (Newtown), 6-5, 2 OT; 3. Nicholas Cote (Bethel) dec. Dillon Forstberg (Conard), 3-2; 5. Richard Rivera (Southington) dec. Renelson Michel (New London), 3-1 2 OT
Final - Michael Gaboardi (Danbury) dec. Renel Michel (New London), 6-4; 3. Michael Burchell (Daniel Hand) medical forfeit over Nicholas Martone (Platt); 5. Jasper Stone (Simsbury) dec. Jacarie Houston (New Haven), 2-1
Outstanding wrestler: Ryan Luth, Foran (145)
Berlin’s Nick Aborio got a reversal with 1:30 left in the third period and that was the difference in a 4-3 win over Sean Johnson of Ellis Tech in the finals at 130 pounds. It was tied 2-2 after one period. A week ago, Johnson beat Aborio in the Class M championship match by pin in 2:50.
Aborio (42-1) became the 13th State Open champion from Berlin but the first in 10 years since Shane Day won a championship in 2007.
“His whole career he has been incredibly focused,” Berlin coach Jim Day said. “He wrestled more than 100 matches in the offseason. We’re not the only ones involved. Coach Knapp at KT Kidz helped. But Nick was something who was willing to work and work and work. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
And after the victory, Aborio went to jump in Day’s arms to celebrate. But the veteran mentor fell to the mat. He wasn’t hurt and the cry of “2” for a takedown rose from the crowd with a laugh. Coach and wrestler walked off the mat with big smiles of a championship win.
In the semifinals, Aborio trailed Class L champion Devon Schoenberger of South Windsor, 4-2 before getting a takedown and near fall with eight seconds left in the second period to take the lead for good in a 15-7 victory. Johnson got a second period takedown and a third period escape to earn a 3-1 win over Class LL champion Matthew Ryan of Trumbull.
Danbury junior Jakob Camacho has made won some big matches this year, finishing fifth in the Beast of the East tournament in Newark, Delaware and winning the Eastern States Classic in Schuylerville, N.Y., in January. Camacho beat a wrestler who was ranked No. 1 in the country at the time in the semifinals.
Camacho, ranked No. 8 in the country by FloWrestling, had little trouble winning his second straight State Open championship by pinning Shelton’s Chandler Duhaime in 3:34 in a rematch of last week’s Class LL final. A week ago, Camacho pinned Duhaime (43-5) in 1:51.
Camacho had four wins with a pair of pins and two wins by technical fall.
Danbury’s Kyle Fields beat Tyler Sung of New Canaan in the championship match, 5-2. Two takedowns in the first period gave Fields an early 4-1 lead.
But the biggest match of this weight class might have come in the semifinal with a 3-2 win over Class L champion Mel Ortiz of New Milford. Fields got the first takedown in the first period to take a 2-0 lead. He extended the lead to 3-1 with an escape in the second period. Ortiz escaped with 1:33 left in the third period but couldn’t get the match-winning takedown.
Meanwhile, in the other semifinal, Sung outlasted Class LL champion Tristian Haviland, 4-2 in three overtimes. Sung’s reversal with 1:14 remaining in the third period tied the match at 2-2. In the third overtime, a 30 second period, Sung finally got a reversal with five seconds remaining to earn a spot in the final.
Ellis Tech’s Jo Jo Gonzalez won his second straight State Open championship with a 7-3 win over Montville’s Joel Morth. Gonzalez (42-0) had a pair of takedowns in the second period to build a 4-3 lead. He extended it to 5-3 with an early escape in the third period.
Morth tried to be strategic about his attempts to get a takedown but Gonzalez was very quick. Finally In the waning seconds of the match, Morth couldn’t wait and had to take a gamble. He took a shot but Gonzalez blocked him well and spun behind for two points in the final seconds to clinch the championship.
“I like a fast pace and keep pressure, pressure on all of the time,” said Gonzalez, who will attend AIC next fall.
“He put in a lot of time (to get ready for the season),” Ellis Tech coach Rafael Calixto said. “He put in the time and works a lot. He’s an explosive wrestler and he’s strong.”
Morth (43-2) had to rally from a 3-0 deficit to force overtime where he beat Tolland’s Ryan Angers to earn his spot in the final. Trailing by three, Morth escaped early in the third period to cut the lead to two. He battled for takedowns the remainder of the period and succeeded with one second remaining at the edge of the circle to force overtime.
In OT, Morth got the takedown with 24 seconds remaining to advance to the final with a 5-3 victory.
Fairfield Warde’s Tim Kane was well aware of the significance of a third State Open championship. Prior to Saturday night, just 14 wrestlers in state history had won three Open titles. “There was a lot of pressure on me to win it again,” Kane said. Much of the pressure was from Kane himself.
But when the spotlight was at its brightest and the pressure was intense, Kane wrestled with poise and experience against Danbury freshman A.J. Kovacs in the championship final at 138. A week earlier, the two had wrestled in the Class LL final with Kane earning a 1-0 decision.
This time, Kane (45-1) had a 6-5 lead in the third period with both wrestlers on their feet working for the match-winning takedown. Kovacs had several opportunities and twice in the final 20 seconds, he looked on the verge of getting the takedown.
“I’ve been wrestling for a while and if I flip out (or panic), I could make a mistake or get into a worse position. I just had to go back to my training,” Kane said.
“Tim is a very talented wrestler,” Fairfield Warde coach Jason Shaugnessy said. “When most people thought he was in a terrible position, he was able to scramble out like no one else can and turn things around.”
It was the fourth State Open final for Kane, who won at 126 as a sophomore and at 132 as a junior. He won a fourth FCIAC championship and a third straight Class LL title.
“This has been a year that he has enjoyed himself,” Shaughnessy said. “It’s been a unique year. Without his brother (Charlie, who graduated), he took a strong leadership role on the team. And I think he enjoyed being the leader.”
Charlie Kane was redshirted this year at Hofstra. Tim plans to wrestle at Buffalo next winter.
Foran’s Ryan Luth wrestled well in the third period to win his first State Open championship. In the semifinals, Luth trailed by a point. He got a takedown with 35 seconds left in the match and a near fall with two seconds to go beat Ed Lovely of Newtown, 7-3.
In the championship match, Luth faced New Fairfield’s Avery Shay, the defending State Open champion. A week ago, Shay beat Luth in the Class M championship by a 7-3 score.
Luth led 6-2 in the third period when Shay escaped with 1:01 remaining and got a takedown with 34 seconds left to cut the lead to one, 6-5. But Luth quickly got away to take a 7-5 lead with 30 seconds left. Shay (37-1) picked a stalling point but it wasn’t enough in a 7-6 defeat.
“This feels awesome,” Luth told the New Haven Register and GameTime CT.com. “I have looked forward to this ever since I saw my brother (C.J.) win this a few years back,” Luth said. “I have wanted to do it since then. When it is that exciting, you don’t pay attention to how tired you are.”
Foran’s undefeated Michael Ross (40-0) won his first State Open championship with a one-sided 15-0 win over Tolland’s Michael Angers by technical fall in 3:40.
Ross had a strong day. He took a quick 4-0 lead in the first period in his 5-1 win over Southington’s Austin Abacherli in the semifinals. And he won his other two matches by pin.
Angers had to battle Class L champion Matthew Pangle of Pomperaug in the semifinals and advanced with a hard-fought 6-3 decision. Tied at 2-2, Anges got a last-second escape to lead 3-2 after one period. Pangle let Angers go to begin the second period to extend the lead to 4-2.
Pangle escaped to begin the third period and cut the lead to 4-3 but couldn’t convert on a takedown. Angers finished a takedown with 25 seconds left in the match for a commanding 6-3 lead.
A week ago, Xavier’s Ryan Devivo beat Southington’s Paul Calo in overtime, 4-2, to win the Class LL championship with a single leg takedown.
Devivo (39-1) did it again Saturday night to win a State Open championship. Calo had a 3-2 lead in the third period and was trying to ride out the period on top. Calo (35-4) was warned for stalling with a minute left in the period. He was penalized for stalling with five seconds left to tie the match at 3-3.
In overtime, Devivo used the same move he used a week earlier – a single leg and then step over. “It was the same move,” Xavier coach Mike Cunningham said.
A year ago, Devivo wrestled three matches here at the Open and won just one. But it lit a fire in him. “One of his goals was to come back here and win it,” Cunningham said. “He wrestled year round and really put in the time.”
It’s difficult to fly under the radar when you post an undefeated season and win a Class LL championship for the third straight year. But it can happen when your teammate is Newtown’s Anthony Falbo, a three-time State Open and two-time national champion who went 130-2 in his first three seasons.
Falbo missed virtually his entire senior season this year due to an injury suffered in an off-season wrestling tournament. There was hope it would heal in time for his return but it never materialized.
Senior teammate Joe Accousti just kept wrestling. And kept winning. Accousti, who won a State Open championship as a sophomore at 152 pounds, earned a second Open title Saturday night with a dominating victory over Granby sophomore Ben Kibby at 170 pounds. Accousti handed Kibby his second loss of the season, pinning him in 5:51 to win the title.
“It feels amazing,” Accousti said. “It was a long time coming. I worked hard in the offseason to get here.”
Accousti, now 36-0, was dominant. He had three pins in four matches and gave up just two points in four Open matches. He had a 10-0 lead and three takedowns on Kibby before he finally put him to his back .
“He is a talented opponent,” Accousti said of Kibby.”He was an impressive wrestler, tough. But I really wanted that pin.”
Newtown coach Chris Bray said, “He gets overlooked but Joe will break out as a college wrestler. He was very dominant. He is a good technician and it is built from a good foundation. He is as physical as a young man can be.”
Accousti will be wrestling at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, which has a Division I wrestling program. But for now, his next goal is a New England championship. A year ago, he finished third at 170. “Joe is focused on the task at hand,” Bray said. “He knows what he has to do.”
Ledyard’s Collin Crader beat Killingly’s Zach Caffrey, 6-4 in OT to finish third. Crader, who was second in Class S behind Kibby, was pinned by Accousti in 35 seconds on Friday night but he won four straight consolation round bouts to take the bronze medal.
Fairfield Warde’s Matheus Ribeiro (Fairfield Warde) finished fifth and earned a berth to the New England tournament with a pin over Mason LaFlam of Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech in 1:54. But that shouldn’t have been surprising. Ribeiro went 6-2 in the tournament with six pins.
Danbury’s Jake Constantine (27-7) has been wrestling on the Hatter varsity for two years. He was second at the FCIAC Tournament two weeks ago and fourth at the Class LL championships. He had never won a high school tournament.
A second period takedown helped him beat Montville’s Emanuel Diaz in the quarterfinals, 3-1. In the semifinal, Constantine had three takedowns in a 10-0 win over Haddam-Killingworth’s David Wyzykowski.
In the finals against East Hartford’s Fransisco Jiminian, Constantine trailed 4-2 but he got a reversal with 30 seconds left in the second period and a two-point near fall with 12 seconds remaining to take a 6-4 lead. Jiminian escaped to cut the lead to 6-5.
Constantine escaped early in the third period to extend the lead to 7-5. With both men on their feet, they battled for a takedown. But it was Constantine with a takedown in the final 10 seconds to secure the championship and his first-ever tournament win.
Somers’ Jason Rheault was very familiar with his opponent facing him for the State Open championship at 190 pounds. It was his offseason training partner at Silverbacks Wrestling Club in Willimantic – David Verizzi of Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech.
“He’s my training partner. We know each other’s work. We’ve made each other better,” Rheault said.
How do you beat your training partner, who knows how you wrestle? “Just dominate,” Rheault said. “I wrestled my stuff. He wrestled his stuff. Just see who is better.”
Rheault (34-0) had three takedowns in a 7-3 victory to win his second straight State Open championship. He is the first wrestler from Somers to achieve that since Tim Vollaro in 2008-09. “Last year, I came here and I didn’t know what to expect,” Rheault said. “This year I expected to win, expected to dominate. I had a lot more confidence in my work.”
Danbury’s Andrew Marquis prevailed in two consecutive overtime matches to win his first State Open title. He beat Southington’s Richard Rivera in overtime, 6-4 in the semifinals. Marquis escape midway through the third period forced OT where he got a takedown with 24 seconds left for the win.
In the championship bout against Tom Long of Newtown, Marquis was trailing 5-2 going into the third period. Long let Marquis escape to open the third period cutting the lead to two points, 5-3. Marquis’ takedown with 10 seconds remaining forced OT.
In the second overtime – which is broken up into two 30-second sections, Marquis escaped with eight seconds remaining in his 30-seconds to take a 6-5 lead. Marquis rode out Long to secure the win.
Danbury’s Michael Gaboardi outlasted New London’s Renel Michel, 6-4, to win his first State Open championship. A takedown with 10 seconds left in the second period snapped a 3-3 tie and gave Gaboardi the lead for good. In the semifinals, an escape with 1:12 remaining gave Gaboardi a 3-2 win over Hand’s Daniel Burchell.