FARMINGTON, Feb. 12, 2011 -- Details that led to gut-wrenching setbacks during the regular season dogged the young Farmington High wrestling team as it set sail on its postseason course.
The Indians, ranked 11th in the regular season in the Norwich Bulletin wrestling poll, allowed the CCC West title to slip through their hands.
A pending major decision evolved into a pin that eventually cost them the match with Southington. A chance to share the title eluded them Wednesday when they lost to Simsbury by criteria (tiebreaker) in the campaign’s final dual meet Feb. 9.
Redemption was the byword Saturday when nine made the finals and four claimed championships as the Indians swept to a decisive victory in the CCC West tournament at their home gym.
“That was a hard loss we had on Wednesday and we were able to come right back today,” Farmington coach Eric Misko said. “In wrestling, you’re going to lose to someone at some point. It’s how you can find a way to pick yourself up, get back out there and win another match. If you’re able to do that, you’re going to have a lot of success, on the mat and in life.”
Farmington had a representative in the top four in each of the 14 weight classes except 145 and 285. Simsbury, which had one champion in Nate Beerman (130) and five runners-up, finished second at 153.
“We put six in the finals, five in the consolation finals,” Simsbury coach Ernie Goodwin said. “We had two first-year wrestlers take third – [Bradley] Helmkamp and [Ed] Novak – which is outstanding. All my senior captains were all in the finals – [Connor] Ciment, [Josh] Gowdy and Ben Todd – so ultimately I’ve got to be pretty pleased. Would we have liked to win it? Yes.”
Conard took third, Newington fourth and Southington was fifth despite clinching the division’s regular-season crown with a win over New Britain last Wednesday.
Farmington was represented on the top rung of the podium by Eric Suhre (103 pounds), Garrett Hastings (119), Ryan Rigney (135) and Shaun Rios (189). Zach Daugherty (130), James Paigo (140), Tyler Strauss (152) and Harry Pacheco (160) were turned back in the finals. Matt Natale (125) wrestled back to third place after losing by fall in the championship semifinals.
Beerman went to double overtime to eke out a 1-0 verdict over Daugherty. John DePasquale (125), Ciment (135), Gowdy (145), Stephon King (189) and Todd (285) finished second. Ben Durst (112), Alex Kozieradski (119), Novak (152) and Helmkamp (215) placed.
Hastings, one of seven Farmington underclassmen (sophomores and freshmen) to place in the top four, reprised a regular-season victory over Nate Solomon of Southington. He pinned him in the dual meet but faced a stiffer test Saturday.
After a scoreless first period, Solomon chose the down slot and escaped within six seconds for a 1-0 lead. Hastings took him down 27 seconds later, paving the way for a 5-3 win.
“He leaned back and as I was trying to get back points using my chin and holding his arms, I didn’t get good position on him and he was able to escape,” Hastings said. “I knew at that point that they only way I’d get the lead was a takedown. I didn’t want to wait.”
He heard Misko urging him to take action and he used the double-leg maneuver he practiced all week.
Perhaps the tournament’s feature match came in the final at 145 where Gowdy squared off with Conard’s Lucas Muntz, a runner-up at 140 in Class L last year as a freshman.
Muntz recorded a takedown in the first period. He selected the down position for the second and executed a reversal. Gowdy got in the scoring column with a reversal but Muntz took him down again with just four seconds left in the period.
With Gowdy down to start the third, Muntz turned him for two back points before Gowdy battled back with a reversal to cut the final margin to 8-3.
“I think Josh ultimately was a little too worried about what [Muntz] was going to do instead of what he does,” Goodwin said. “Right there at the end of the match he got a little mad … and that’s when he scored points.”
Rigney, a freshman, outpointed Ciment in the closely fought final at 135. Rigney scored a takedown 14 seconds into the bout and rode Ciment nearly the whole period before surrendering an escape with 28 seconds left.
Down for the second, Rigney promptly escaped and notched another takedown 20 seconds later for a 5-1 lead. Ciment was down for the start of the third and Rigney rode him for nearly the entire period to secure the win.