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Carrillo, Falbo, Urbina honored at Gold Key banquet
SOUTHINGTON, April 30 -- Three men in the Connecticut wrestling community were recognized at the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance’s 76th annual Gold Key banquet.
Middletown’s Devon Carrillo, a two-sport standout in football and wrestling, at Wesleyan University, was selected as the state athlete of the year. Newtown’s Anthony Falbo was recognized as the state high school athlete of the year while Newtown’s Curtis Urbina received a Good Sport award for his work with the Newtown Youth Wrestling Association.
Carrillo and Falbo are the first wrestlers to win athlete of the year honors.
Carrillo capped off his four-year football career by being named to the New England Small College Athletic Conference's (NESCAC) first team as a running back and wide receiver, and was named to the second team as a punt returner.
He led the NESCAC in punt returns with 22, was second in rushing touchdowns with 12 and 12th in receiving yards with 349.
During his career at Wesleyan, he started at defensive back, linebacker, running back and wide receiver. He also played quarterback out of the Wildcat formation. In his senior year, Carrillo had 807 all-purpose yards in the eight-game season.
Carrillo has also found success on the mat at Wesleyan. In the 2015-16 season, he was 15-4 in the heavyweight/197-pound classes. He was third in the NCAA Division III Northeast Regional championships and won the Gorrarian Award for the most pins in that tournament. Carrillo qualified for the NCAA Division III championship in Iowa.
This past season, Carillo went 15-4 at 197 pounds, winning the first eight matches of the season. He won the 197 title at the Scott Viera Tournament and was 5-0 at the Bud Whitehall Duals at Lycoming College to earn All-Tournament team honors. He finished third at the NCAA Division III Northeast Regional and earned a berth to compete at the NCAA Div. III national championships for the second straight year.
At Middletown High, Carrillo was the football team's outstanding player. He was an All-American wrestler, winning two Class L championships, two State Open championships and one New England championship. He earned All-American honors as a junior, finishing seventh nationally.
Falbo is one of the most successful high wrestlers in state history with a career record of 153-2. He won three straight Southwest Conference titles, three consecutive Class LL titles and three State Open championships. He never lost to a Connecticut opponent in his scholastic career.
Falbo had a tremendous junior season going 50-0 in New England and 56-0 overall, winning a National High School Coaches Association national title for the second year in a row. He helped lead Newtown to a Class L title and the first State Open championship in team history.
Falbo, who will wrestle at Purdue, wrestled only three matches in his senior season due to an undisclosed injury. The criteria for the award was the 2015-16 campaign.
“It’s an outstanding honor. I feel very blessed to receive this award,” Falbo said. “It took a lot of hard work and dedication, courage, discipline and a lot of training.”
Falbo got hurt in September and tried to get back for the wrestling season but it didn’t out. He is looking forward to getting back on the mat again and competing at Purdue, where he hopes to study law and society with an eye on a position in Homeland Security. Falbo expects to redshirt his freshman as he continues to recover from his injury.
Falbo also recognized Sarah Jadach, the president of USA Wrestling in Connecticut, and thanked her and her team for their work in coordinating and organizing the Connecticut national team that travels to South Dakota each year to compete in the USA Wrestling national championship tournaments.
“Without our state’s national team it is highly doubtful that I would have been recruited to the Big 10 (and Purdue),” Falbo said.
Urbina was recognized with a Good Sport Award for his work with the Newtown Youth Wrestling Association where he is the head coach of the NYWA’s elementary school team.
Since taking over the reins at the NYWA nine years ago, he has helped the elementary school program grow from 12 wrestlers to about 65. The program serves as a pipeline to what has become a powerhouse at Newtown High. Newtown won its first State Open title in 2015, a direct result of the work being done in the elementary school program, which included Falbo, a two-time NHSCA national champion.
“It is a sport that has given me so much,” Urbina said. “It got me out of the Bronx. It showed me how to excel.”
“It’s hard work and (requires) dedication but so does life,” he said.
Urbina helped guide the NYWA through its darkest hours in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. One of program’s most promising young wrestlers, first-grader Jack Pinto, was one the 20 students and six educators who were killed. The Sandy Hook school was the program’s home gym, too.
Urbina’s philosophy has never changed. “Have fun, work hard and be the best you can be,” he said. More important than the wins and losses are the young lives being positively influenced.
WINDHAM, May 7 -- Windham’s Baltazar Gonzalez, a senior at Ellis Tech in Danielson, has been selected as the Dave Schultz Excellence Award winner from Connecticut.
The award, presented by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, recognizes wrestling success on the mat, scholastic achievement and community service.
Gonzalez is a two-time New England, State Open and Class M champion, winning championships in 2016 and 2017. He went undefeated in his final two years in high school with a record of 95-0, including a 49-0 record in 2016.
Gonzalez finished with a career record of 171-10 with 93 career pins.
At Ellis Tech, Gonzalez studies precision manufacturing and has been on the honor roll each year of his high school career. He serves as youth wrestling coach at the Silverbacks Wrestling Club in Willimantic and is a summer youth counselor in Windham.
"Each year we are pleased to honor these remarkable student-athletes, who are inspirational role models because of their excellence on the wrestling mat, in the classroom and in their communities," said Lee Roy Smith, executive director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. "We take great pride in our high school excellence honorees and enjoy following their careers as they continue to be positive influences."
The Hall of Fame accepts nominations for the High School Excellence awards, and a committee, with input from Hall of Fame state chapters, selects state and regional winners.
The award was established in 1996 to honor Olympic and World champion Dave Schultz, whose career was cut short when he was murdered in January 1996. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member in 1997 and as a member of the United World Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2016.
Broadus, Ortiz earn All-American honors at national championships
IRVING, Texas, May 21 -- Two Connecticut girls earned All-American honors at the USA Wrestling girls freestyle national championships.
Plymouth’s Cara Broadus finished third in the UWW Cadet Division at 60 kilograms (132 pounds) and seventh in the UWW Junior Division at 63 kilograms (138).
New Milford’s Joanne Ortiz finished fourth in the UWW Cadet competition at 46 kg (101 pounds). Athletes in the Cadet Division are ages 15-17 while athletes in the Junior Division are ages 17-20.
Broadus, who trains with KT Kidz out of Rocky Hill, won her first four matches in the Cadet competition with three technical falls and a pin before falling to Marcy Kilty of Wisconsin in the semifinals, 16-4.
In the consolation bracket, Broadus beat Kaylee Moore from Yakima, Washington, 9-8 to advance to the consolation final. Moore scored eight points in 31 seconds to take a one-point lead with eight seconds remaining in the match. But Broadus scored two points with seven seconds left to secure the win.
In the consolation final, Broadus scored three points in the final 22 seconds to beat Virginia’s Brianna Csontos, 9-6 to finish third. Broadus finished 6-1.
In the UWW Junior competition, Broadus beat Hosanna Knopp of Wellington, Florida with a pin in 1:38 before getting pinned by Hawaii’s Teshya Alo in the quarterfinals in 2:59. Broadus went 2-1 in the consolation bracket and finished seventh with a 10-0 win over New Jersey’s Marlee Smith.
Ortiz won her first three bouts in the UWW Cadet tournament with a pair of technical falls and a pin of Sofia Martinez (1:35) of Chino Hills, California. But Oritz lost by technical fall in the semifinals to Ohio’s Olivia Shore. Ortiz beat Alice Todryk by technical fall in the consolation bracket before Angelia Gomez of Titan Mercury club beat Ortiz in the consolation final with a pin in 3:10. Ortiz finished 4-2.
The tournament also served as trials for Team USA. The winners of each international weight class earned an opportunity to represent the United States at the Cadet World Championships while the second place finisher earned a trip with Team USA to the Pan American championships.