The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
No. 1 Xavier dominant in winning SCC title
BRANFORD — Xavier showed why it’s been the topranked team in the state for most of the season Saturday night dominating the Southern Connecticut Conference wrestling tournament at Branford High School.
The Falcons, who scored 244.5 points, won nine weight classes and more than doubled its closest competitor in team points, had clinched the tournament team title before the finals started.
“We had a week and a half off, so we’ve just been practicing,” Xavier coach Mike Cunningham said. “It was great for injuries to heal and sicknesses, but we wanted to get our competitive edge back and compete against this type of competition.”
Fairfield Prep finished second with 108 points.
“We’re very happy with it,” Fairfield Prep coach Ned Dwelle. “Our guys stepped up in the finals. We lost a tough one at 120 pounds.”
Foran was third at 106. Branford and Amity completed the top five with 84.5 and 84 points, respectively.
“This was a battle for second place,” Foran coach Dave Esposito said. “In all the times I’ve been coaching, (Xavier’s) the best team I’ve ever seen. They have two or three guys in every weight class that could win this tournament. For us, we wrestled well and it bodes well for next weekend in the state tournament.”
It didn’t take Xavier long to assert its dominance in the finals. Both Raekwon Shabazz (106 pounds) and Brayton Gonzalez (113 pounds) won by pins in the first round of their matches. Top-seeded Shabazz needed just 1:03 to pin Marcus Mizzone of Amity Regional while second-seeded Gonzalez pinned top-seeded Jack Batista-Fletcher in just 1:50.
Kevin Kasperowski kept Xavier’s winning streak going at 120 pounds with an escape from the bottom to grab a 5-4 triple overtime victory over Sebastian Rodriguez of Fairfield Prep.
Finally, Antonio Madero of Foran broke the Falcons’ streak by not giving in on the bottom in the last minute for a 7-6 win over Jake Elpi of Branford at 126 pounds.
Xavier came right back with back-to-back wins again. Kyle Levesque dominated Jay Chase of Sheehan at 132 pounds by a 9-1 count. Anthony Basile followed by manhandling Craig
Mager of Foran, 21-7, at 138 pounds.
William Smith of Fairfield Prep (37-1), who was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament, handed Xavier its only loss in the finals with a 7-0 shutout of John Lagana at 145 pounds.
Matt Ferrucci of Xavier had Charles Wahl of Hand on his back early in the first round and needed just 1:23 at 152 pounds.
“It was nice to get off the live matches for a little bit,” Ferrucci said. “We needed to worry about the small things like our technique.”
Zachary Fong of Xavier took control from the start and beat Ryan Kinick of Shelton, 11-2, to win the 160-pound match.
Guilford grabbed its only win in the finals when Alejandro Colberg-Martinez took what was a close 170-pound bout after two periods and beat Branimir Lah of Amity, 8-3.
Charles Weidman of Xavier took a quick 9-2 lead over Cole Snider of Branford in the 182-pound match,, extended it to 12-3 after two periods and finally was able to pin him at 4:37.
Jason Toth of East Haven was consistent throughout the 195-pound match and beat Liam Alberti, 10-5.
Vinny Scileppi of Xavier hung on in the third period and didn’t allow Drew Schwartz of Branford to score late in the match as he took a 5-3 win.
“We really want to win by as much as we can every time,” Scileppi said. “We have the mentality we want to beat the best there is. All the work in the team room showed up here.”
Malachi Mercer-Robinson of Fairfield Prep, who is undefeated this winter at 37-0, went up quickly on Justin Bonilla of New Haven and pinned him with just one second remaining in the first period.