Branford wins first state wrestling championship, holds off Foran for Class M title

EAST HAVEN — There was no true favorite to take home the Class M wrestling title. Timing and circumstance found few wrestlers returning from the 2020 divisional championship. There were no class matches in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the door was left ajar it was Branford that stepped across the championship threshold.

Branford placed 11 wrestlers, including four champions, to finish with 261.5 points. It took that type of team effort, according to Branford coach Kevin Kapushinski, to get past Foran (226.5), Berlin (155.5) and RHAM (150.5).

“It is what had to be done,” said Kapushinski, who led the Hornets to their first-ever state title. “It takes a bunch of workhorses, wrestlers that go out and win the next match. We told ourselves every day that we were going to win states.”

Branford senior Patrick Zdunek helped ensure the end result.

“It was exactly what I expected,” Zdunek said, after getting the last points in the final seconds to secure an 8-5 victory over RHAM’s Jeremy Devine in the 160-pound final “It was war. I knew he was coming after me (down 6-5) and I couldn’t back up. This (title) is why I put four years into wrestling. To win a title and help my team win a title is 10 times better than winning the lottery.”

Jace Korab (138), Cole Snider (170) and Nate Mathis (195) also won titles for Branford. Drew Schwartz was second at 220.

Foran has finished first or second in eight consecutive divisional meets, winning titles in 2016 and 2018.

“We wrestled the best we can. We have 11 wrestlers in the top five, which we’ve never done before. They just did better,” Foran coach Dave Esposito said of Branford. “I’m proud of how we competed.”

Foran’s Antonio Madero scored a 12-0 major decision to win the title at 120 pounds. “I like to work in some advanced moves,” the junior said of putting foes in trouble. “I like to get on top and then not let them breathe (come back).” Madero was a fourth-place finisher at 113 pounds in 2020.

RHAM’s Zach Kanaitis, the 120-pound champ in 2020, posted his 100th career win when the senior won a 12-0 major decision in his 138-pound semifinal.

Plainville and Bunnell each had three finalists with Plainville’s Joe Kennedy at 145, Alexander Santini at 182 and heavyweight Jeff Quirion La Oz taking home gold medals. Bunnell’s Brandon Toscano was first at 220 pounds, while Nickolas DeManche at 195 and Ryan McLaughlin at 170 took seconds.


Barlow’s Scott Romano didn’t cruise but did control his way to placing first at 132 pounds. “I was hoping for something like this, but you can’t plan for it,” said Romano, who brought a 31-6 record into states. “I feel good on top. I try to be smart with the riding.”


Brookfield sophomore Danny Carrozza lost to Foran’s Antonio Madero in the 120-pound final. Carrozza’s brother Matt defeated Madero is the consolation finals at 113 pounds in 2020. Now a top-seeded senior at 126, Matt won a 13-2 major decision in the 126 final.

Matt said, “Our dad passed wrestling down to us.” Danny stepped in: “We both began wrestling when we were 5.” The vocal reversal continued. “We wrestled a lot in the offseason,” Matt said. “Yes, we had to move furniture around sometimes.”


Bethel sophomore Esther Riberio showed her mettle on her way to placing sixth at 120 pounds. “I was down 4-0 in my first consolation and got the pin,” said Riberio, a state middle school champion. “You can’t think about your record or wrestling to make your record better. You have got to wrestle each match and let your performance tell how you are doing. Boys are stronger. I must be quicker and look for them to make a mistake. You can’t avoid good wrestlers. If you do then when you get to big meets, you won’t be ready.”

The top six placers in each weight class at all four meets will compete for State Open titles on Friday and Saturday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.

The Class M Outstanding Wrestler Award will be presented at the State Open. Twitter: @blox354


1. Branford 261.5; 2. Foran 226.5; 3 Berlin 155.5; 4. RHAM 150.5; 5 tie Avon 119, Plainville 119; 7. New London 101; 8. Lyman Mem/Windham Tech 99; 9. Suffield/Windsor Locks 93; 10. Bunnell 89.5; 11 EO Smith 88; 12. Ellis Tech 84; 13. Platt 79; 14. Waterford 76; 15. Brookfield 70.5; 16. East Haven 61; 17. Weston 60; 18. Barlow 56; 19. Notre Dame-West Haven 55; 20. Bethel 47; 21. Law 31; 22. Rockville 26; 23. Masuk 22; 24. St. Joseph 20; 25. Watertown 3; 26 Torrington 0; 27. North Haven 0

106 LBS

1st Mason Arborio Berlin, CT (Berlin) F Jackson Tassoni CT (Ellis Tech), 1:15

3rd Jack Batista-fletcher East Haven, CT (East Haven) F Ben Fournier Hebron, CT (RHAM), 4:17

5th Keith Pokornowski Milford, CT (Foran) F Cesar Rodriguez Meriden, CT (Platt), 0:35

113 LBS

1st Isaiah Adams Avon, CT (Avon) DEC Jerry Hill Bethel, CT (Bethel), 8-5

3rd Hayden Ferland Brooklyn, CT (Ellis Tech) DEC Mason Hallstrom Milford, CT (Foran), 6-4

5th Jorge Gonzalez-garcia New London, CT (New London) FOR Miles Fine Weston, CT (Weston), 0-0

120 LBS

1st Antonio Madero Milford, CT (Foran) MD Danny Carrozza Brookfield, CT (Brookfield), 12-0

3rd Jake Elpi Branford, CT (Branford) F Andy Martinez-soliz New London, CT (New London), 2:07

5th Gavin Plourde Hebron, CT (RHAM) DEC Esther Ribeiro Bethel, CT (Bethel), 5-0

126 LBS

1st Matthew Carrozza Brookfield, CT (Brookfield) MD Caleb Phillips STORRS MANFLD, CT (EO Smith), 13-2

3rd Dominick Zdunek Branford, CT (Branford) F Kyle Currier Hebron, CT (RHAM), 0:45

5th Evan Cavicchia Weston, CT (Weston) FOR Stryder Hanson Redding, CT (Joel Barlow), 0-0

132 LBS

1st Scott Romano Redding, CT (Joel Barlow) DEC Craig Mager Milford, CT (Foran), 5-1

3rd Lucas Gannotti Waterford, CT (Waterford) DEC Nehemiah Czelusniak Lebanon, CT (Lyman Mem/Windham Tech), 6-4 SV

5th Carter Burgess Branford, CT (Branford) F Nathan Videira Monroe, CT (Masuk), 2:08

138 LBS

1st Jace Korab Branford, CT (Branford) DEC Zackary Kanaitis Hebron, CT (RHAM), 6-3

3rd Landon Vieira Berlin, CT (Berlin) DEC Kevin Sevigny West Haven, CT (Notre Dame-West Haven), 5-1

5th Anthony Giordano Milford, CT (Foran) F Tristen Robledo-thompson New London, CT (New London), 3:12

145 LBS

1st Joseph Kennedy Plainville, CT (Plainville) DEC Kyle Pokornowski Milford, CT (Foran), 5-2

3rd Ghassan Saleh Windsor Locks, CT (Suffield/Windsor Locks) MD Josh Berdon Branford, CT (Branford), 10-2

5th James Hiltz Lebanon, CT (Lyman Mem/Windham Tech) FOR Jake Ortiz East Haven, CT (East Haven), 0-0

152 LBS

1st Caiden Talento Meriden, CT (Platt) DEC Roel Johnson Avon, CT (Avon), 8-2

3rd Mason Concascia Waterford, CT (Waterford) DEC Dakota Blanchard STORRS MANFLD, CT (EO Smith), 5-1

5th James Taylor Milford, CT (Foran) DEC Inderpreet Behal Branford, CT (Branford), 9-8

160 LBS

1st Patrick Zdunek Branford, CT (Branford) DEC Jeremy Devine Hebron, CT (RHAM), 8-5

3rd Joshua Nieroda Suffield, CT (Suffield/Windsor Locks) F Cameron Casey Avon, CT (Avon), 2:51

5th Cameron Sammarco Lebanon, CT (Lyman Mem/Windham Tech) F Ahmed Hernandez Meriden, CT (Platt), 4:37

170 LBS

1st Cole Snider Branford, CT (Branford) DEC Ryan Mclaughlin Stratford, CT (Bunnell), 5-2

3rd Marco Marino Berlin, CT (Berlin) MD Connor Bly Suffield, CT (Suffield/Windsor Locks), 9-1

5th Devon Powers Waterford, CT (Waterford) F Mustafa Dannett New London, CT (New London), 3:59

182 LBS

1st Alexander Santini Plainville, CT (Plainville) F Elijah Bean CT (Ellis Tech), 7:12

3rd Kieran Mcguire Weston, CT (Weston) DEC Greg Kealey Branford, CT (Branford), 5-0

5th Michael Marques Hebron, CT (RHAM) F Joseph Cichowski Milford, CT (Foran), 2:31

195 LBS

1st Nate Mathis Branford, CT (Branford) F Nicholas Demanche Stratford, CT (Bunnell), 3:28

3rd Eliot Poffenberger Milford, CT (Foran) DEC Thomas Paneccasio Hebron, CT (RHAM), 8-5

5th Nick Ebrahimi Berlin, CT (Berlin) F Ethan Volpe Avon, CT (Avon), 2:06

220 LBS

1st Brandon Toscano Stratford, CT (Bunnell) DEC Drew Schwartz Branford, CT (Branford), 7-1

3rd Hamza Mourabit Berlin, CT (Berlin) F Barry Held Milford, CT (Foran), 2:10

5th Nicholas Dennis Plainville, CT (Plainville) F Kaden Smith New London, CT (New London), 2:14

285 LBS

1st Jeff Quirion la oz Plainville, CT (Plainville) vs. Aiden Cote Berlin, CT (Berlin)

3rd Jaycee Diaz STORRS MANFLD, CT (EO Smith) F Jason Cruz Milford, CT (Foran), 1:44

5th Timothy Breault (Lyman Mem/Windham Tech) vs. Lou Sabo Milford, CT (Jonathan Law)