SOUTHINGTON - Wednesday nightâ€™s dual meet between the New Britain and Southington wrestling teams had long been decided by the time the final bout of the night came around.
The Blue Knights led 57-6, with the Hurricanesâ€™ only points coming from a forfeit to start the match. But when it came time for the finale, with a win already clinched on Senior Night, the crowd ramped up to its loudest volume of the night as Billy Carr and Isaiah Medina jogged to the center of the mat to begin the 182-pound match.
Carr, a defending Class LL state champion, represented one of Medinaâ€™s toughest opponents of the season. Medina, a fifth-place finisher in Class LL last season, was looking to secure an undefeated regular season, and with Carr in his way, he knew he was going to have to earn a perfect regular season.
â€śMy coach said to go and get this,â€ť Medina said. â€śIt was a great atmosphere. It was really good.â€ť
Medina went out and got it, securing an 11-6 decision by completely controlling the third round and bouncing back after an early 4-0 lead turned into a 5-5 deadlock in the second. Medinaâ€™s win ensured heâ€™s heading into postseason play without a blemish, completing a dominant regular season.
â€śIt felt really good,â€ť Medina said. â€śI came in after last year ready to work hard for everything. I worked my butt off for this.â€ť
Even on the losing side, the Blue Knights were able to appreciate a highly anticipated matchup living up to its billing, even if the outcome didnâ€™t go the way they had hoped. Carr and Medina was the marquee bout of the night, and both sides knew it.
â€śThat was, I think, the two best 182-pounders in the state,â€ť Southington head coach Derek Dion said. â€śIt was a good match. That kid is excellent. It was fun to watch two really talented kids going at it.â€ť
Both grapplers looked dead even through the first four minutes of action, and showed why Dion considers them to be the best in all of Connecticut. Medina, who was wrestling to accomplish a mission he set out for a year ago, found the extra spark he needed in the third to complete his share of history.
â€śWe had been gearing up for that all night,â€ť New Britain head coach Nick Catalano said. â€śIsaiah just has another level of athleticism that you donâ€™t see very often.â€ť
Medina, who lost his mother to cancer last summer, had plenty to wrestle for this season, and still has plenty to compete for once state championships begin next weekend. The senior now feels he can go into the postseason with an added dose of belief after taking down one of the best opponents he will see all season, while keeping that flawless record intact.
â€śIt gives me a good confidence boost,â€ť Medina said. â€śIâ€™m just glad I was able to do it. I thought it was going to be really hard. It was going to take a lot of hard work, but I decided I was just going to go for it, and I did.â€ť
Medina completed one of his goals, but not his most important one. Fifth place at the LL championships was celebrated last season, but wonâ€™t be this year. Medina is hoping for a gold medal, and even though the regular season is over, he still doesnâ€™t plan on experiencing what a loss feels like.
â€śItâ€™s definitely a nice thing to have, to finish the season undefeated, but weâ€™re really not done yet,â€ť Catalano said of Medinaâ€™s accomplishment. â€śThe season doesnâ€™t start until right now.â€ť
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org