BERLIN - Coming off its first ever loss to New Britain, the Berlin wrestling team was looking to grow as a unit in the C.J. McCormack Tournament, hosted in the Redcoats’ gym on Saturday.
While Berlin finished in fifth place with 110 points, the Redcoats were without some key wrestlers at its disposal, giving others an opportunity to step up.
Jake Kaplan at 114 pounds, 120-pounder Nate Orde, 132-pounder Mike King, 145-pounder Jake Sparks, 152-pounder Josh Wood, 220-pounder Mike Rivera and heavyweight Evan Graves were all missing for Berlin.
“Considering that we had five of our starters out, I was pleased with the effort,” Berlin head coach Jim Day said.
The big performance for the Redcoats came out of Josh Veleas, a fourth-place finisher in Class M last season, who pinned all of his opponents in the match en route to winning the 171-pound bracket.
Veleas pinned Bristol Eastern’s Ian Wishart at 0:50 to begin his day.
The next victim was Foran’s Patrick Brogan. Veleas pinned Brogan at 0:38.
In the final matchup with the Lancers’ Dylan Levesque, Veleas again ended the match with a pin, but it took longer as he pinned Levesque at 3:28.
Junior Max Schlein made it to the finals for Berlin in the 183-pound bracket and won, a pleasant surprise for the Redcoats and Day.
Schlein beat Bristol Eastern’s Tyler Varasconi and also topped Foran’s Uber Khan to reach the finals against Vermont’s Mount Anthony’s Chris Mayer.
In that final matchup, Schlein showed resiliency and ended his successful day by pinning Mayer at 6:06 to win the bracket.
“[Schlein] was a .500 wrestler last year and defeated two-time state finalist [Khan] and beat a Vermont state placer in [Mayer],” Day said.
Dan Veleas also had a good performance for Berlin in the 139-pound class, reaching the semifinals.
He won a match against Ethan Edmondson of Foran before losing in the finals to Mount Anthony Union’s Gage McLaughlin.
Still, the Redcoats are expecting more out of their group and know that they must improve.
“Our ability to focus needs improvement,” Day said. “You need able to finish out matches. It was a big improvement from Wednesday for us. We need to improve our confidence in techniques that we know we are capable of.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811, or firstname.lastname@example.org