SOUTHINGTON — As the host of the dual tournament, the Southington wrestling team was in position to take first place of the 11 participating teams.
The championship came down to the Blue Knights and Winchester, Mass.
With Southington down 33-27, the Blue Knights sent out 152-pound wrestler Tagan Welch, who controlled most of the match. But it was an unsportsmanlike call on Welch that proved to be pivotal in the final outcome as the teams finished tied 36-36 after Southington’s Paul Calo came away with a pin in the last match of the day.
The Blue Knights ended up with second place at the tournament.
“I think it was just the mental aspect,” Southington 145-pound wrestler Shaun Wagner said. “It wasn’t the wrestling aspect. When we got that unsportsmanlike, we really wrestled well, I think he was a little frustrated with how the officiating was going. But it comes down to that’s not something you can comment on during the match. We just need to move past that match. We were neck and neck with them and we lost on an unsportsmanlike.”
In that final match against the Sachems, Southington’s Caleb Chesanow started it out with a pin towards the end of the second round (3:48).
The next two Blue Knights wrestlers, Giancarlo Dominello (195 pounds) and Jacob Vecchio (220 pounds) got pinned. Dominello got pinned early in the first round at 0:30 and Vecchio was toward the end of the first round at 1:53.
Down 12-6, the Blue Knights’ Sebby Lombardo (285 pounds) pinned of Winchester’s Brendan Gill at 1:31, tying it up at 12-12.
The Sachems came back, though, as Southington’s Emmett Vitti (106 pounds) and Caleb Brick (113 pounds) got pinned. Vitti was downed by Winchester’s Scott Downs in the first round at 0:32. Brick, meanwhile, was pinned by Winchester’s Isaac Graylin at 1:49 in the first round.
Southington’s Darius Mangliafico (120 pounds) ended the Sachems’ run as he won via a 9-8 decision, earning three points for Southington to pull the Blue Knights to within 24-15.
Winchester’s Dion Kourafalos (126 pounds) extended the lead to 30-15 as he pinned Dawsen Welch 0:34 into the first round.
The Blue Knights’ Jacob Cardozo (132 pounds) brought the match closer at 30-21 as he pinned Winchester’s Paul Constantine right at the end of the first period at 1:59.
Southington’s Jason Brault (138 pounds) lost a decision 10-3 to Ethan Graylin and the Blue Knights trailed 33-21.
Wagner brought the match within six points with his pin of Winchester’s Jack Kinsley at 1:15.
Following that match, Welch lost and was hit with the unsportsmanlike call, which deducted a point.
Southington’s Billy Carr (160 pounds) beat Spencer Edwards by a 13-4 decision before Calo (170 pounds) pinned Winchester’s Jose Nieve in the first round to tie it up 36-36 and conclude the back and forth contest between the two.
To get to the first place meet, the Blue Knights had to go through three other teams first.
Southington did so with ease, as it went 3-0 against Amity (60-17), NFA (55-21) and Bristol Central (59-17).
Wagner and Calo led the way for the Blue Knights, as the combo won every individual match by pinning their opponents in the first round each match.
Chesanow was 4-0 and pinned his three opponents and his fourth win came on a forfeit.
Welch pinned two of his opponents, in the meets against NFA and Bristol Central.
“We have a lot of kids being aggressive,” Calo said. “The more aggressive you are, the more points you score. A lot of kids looked good.”
While Southington wishes the final match had gone the other way, the tournament was a good indicator of where the Blue Knights are as a group and they conclude a tough stretch of wrestling that should only be beneficial moving forward in a season with high expectations.
“At that point [against Winchester] we were just trying to tough it out,” Southington coach Derek Dion said. “We’ve been wrestling a lot over the past few days and the guys were pretty beat up so we were trying to tough it out finish the match and just came up short because of criteria.”
The Blue Knights will take on East Hartford at home on Wednesday.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org