Southington wrestling not focused on state rankings, keeping sights set on state title

Published on Thursday, 17 January 2019 21:21
Written by RYAN CHICHESTER

@ryanchichester1

NEWINGTON - The Southington wrestling team remains a freight train that refuses to be slowed down, as it rolled to a 60-3 victory at Newington on Wednesday night.

The Blue Knights improved to 9-1 in duals on the season with the win, while also finishing first in the Greater Hartford Open last weekend.

The victory for Southington comes shortly after the team was voted fourth in the latest CT State Poll, as the defending conference tournament champs continue to impress on a statewide level.

Despite the success and recognition, the Blue Knights are drowning out the noise and focusing only on where they need to improve. Even in the team’s thrashing of Newington on Wednesday night, assistant coach Brian Zaccagnino looked on from the sidelines with a yearning for more. Sure, Southington won every match but one, including five pins, but that didn’t matter. The Blue Knights hold themselves to a different standard.

“It’s tough to complain when the score is what it is, but you have to find some teaching moments along the way.” Zaccagnino said.

It’s this never-satisfied mindset that keeps Southington’s eyes away from any polls or rankings that may leak into its social media avenues. Whether the team is ranked last or first, it’s of no concern. The focus is on improving upon the team’s third place finish at last year’s Class LL meet.

“I’m aware of [the poll] since I saw it on social media, but it doesn’t mean a lot,” Zaccagnino said. “There’s no place on the podium for a team with the most votes in a statewide poll. It’s nice to be recognized by people and that the team’s doing well, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot.”

As for the players, Zaccagnino and the coaching staff aren’t worried about potential distractions that could come from in-season rankings and polls. As far as the coaching staff is concerned, finding the rankings are as tough as Southington has been on its opponents so far this season.

“I’m not even sure the players even know where to look for (the polls).” Zaccagnino laughed. “I mean, maybe they do, since it’s on the internet and they’re more tech-savvy than we are.”

The team’s underclassmen don’t know where to look for the polls, but senior Jacob Cardozo and the other upperclassmen have learned where to find them. Still, they choose not to. Seeing the Southington name in the rankings only blurs the team’s vision of the ultimate goal which they have their sights set on.

“We’re not really focused on [the rankings],” Cardozo said. “Come LL’s, Opens, where we end up in the state, that’ll be where it really is. We want that title.”

Besides, Cardozo and the Blue Knights don’t need to see their name near the top of the rankings to know their potential. All they have to do is watch their teammates compete and dominate on the mat to know how far their season can go.

“We’re legit contenders,” Cardozo said. “We’re not worried about those seedings or rankings because at this part of the season, it’s not that big of an impact.”



Posted in New Britain Herald, Southington on Thursday, 17 January 2019 21:21. Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2019 21:24.