Wrestling has always been a strong sport in the area, and as such, boasts some of the best wrestlers in not just the region but the entire state. Although there was plenty of exceptional wresters to choose from, our 2017 All-Herald Wrestling Team reflects the best of the best. The 10 on our list have shown the ability to dominate the competition at every level.
For the second year in a row, Southington tops our All-Herald squad with four athletes. The Blue Knights were able to win with a lineup stacked with talent, and after a strong showing in not just Class LL but in the State Open, it was easy to see why.
Paul Calo had quite the sophomore season. Jumping up from the 126-pound weight class to 160 pounds this year, Calo rolled through his competition. The Blue Knight placed with runner-up finishes in the Class LL final and State Open, both times to Xavier’s Ryan Devivo, before taking revenge at the New Englands, where Calo was finally able to top Devivo for the title. He then went on to compete at Nationals. With two more years still to go, the sky is the limit for Calo.
Next is Shaun Wagner. Like Calo, Wagner also went up in weight class from last season and proved once again to be one of the best on the mat. In the 132-pound weight class, the junior showed he is a tough opponent for anyone and earned all-conference honors as a result. In the Class LL tournament, Wagner placed fourth.
Austin Abacherli also finds himself on the All-Herald list once again, and returns as the team’s elder statesman. The senior closed out his final season as a Blue Knight on a high note, capturing the Class LL crown in the 152-pound weight class. He then went on to a third-place finish at the State Open.
Richie Rivera is the newcomer in the Southington group, but the senior did not disappoint, showing he was more than just a good football player. In just his second season on the mat, Rivera placed fourth in the Class LL tournament at 220 pounds and then followed it up with a fifth-place finish at the State Open.
Berlin is the next team on our list with the Redcoats placing three grapplers.
One of, if not the best wrestlers in the area is senior Nick Arborio. Wrestling at 113 pounds, Arborio went 45-6 this season, including four straight tournament wins (where he was awarded the Most Outstanding Wrestler Award), to boost his final career record to an astounding 151-31.
Arborio was once again a finalist in Class M before taking the 113-pound title at the State Open. He also placed fifth at the New England Championships for the second consecutive year. In addition to the titles, Arborio leaves Berlin with the school record for tech falls, with 14, and 317 take downs in his career, good for 10th all-time in the state. With his opponents now glad he is moving on, Arborio will wrestle next season at Western New England at the 125-pound weight class.
Joining Arborio from Berlin is teammate Josh Veleas, who is making is second All-Herald appearance in as many seasons. Along with being named all-conference, Veleas boosted his career record to 95-35 and placed fourth at the Class M tournament, an improvement from sixth in 2016. It could be an even bigger year for the junior next season.
The younger of the brothers, Dan Veleas rounds out the Redcoats on this year’s squad. The sophomore made some big strides this past season and came away with the Class M title at 120 pounds and an All-CCC honor to go along with. With a career record of 33-8 and still two seasons left, Veleas has the ability to be even better and a matchup nightmare for future opponents.
Tyler Savluk is Newington’s lone representative. The senior proved to be one of the most consistent wrestlers in the area on a team that was in rebuilding mode. Savluk earned all-conference recognition after posting another 30-10 season for the Indians, as well as a fifth-place finish at Class L. But the team captain showed he is also a great student, where he ranks in the top five percent of his class and earned his fourth Academic All-Conference honor.
New Britain’s Jordyn Rowe was the Hurricanes’ best performer. This was the junior’s first true season as a wrestler and he did not disappoint. Rowe came through with a fifth-place finish in the Class LL tournament in the 120-pound weight class and qualified for the State Open as a result. The All-CCC honoree should have quite the senior campaign.
Plainville’s Sebby Soli rounds out this year’s All-Herald team. The sophomore was one of the biggest surprises and most successful for the Blue Devils. Soli went on to place fourth in the 120-pound division at the Class M tournament and qualified for the State Open in the process. He was rewarded with an all-conference selection.
Soli will be someone to keep an eye with two more years still to go.