Danbury wins FCIAC title by razor-thin margin over Warde

Photo of Scott Ericson

NEW CANAAN — The Danbury wrestling team entered the FCIAC tournament wrestlebacks Saturday morning trailing Warde by 25 points. After they were finished, the Hatters had closed the gap to 3.5 points.

Danbury won five weight classes in the finals, including the only head-to-head against Warde at 106 pounds, claiming its 34th FCIAC wrestling championship in 35 years and 11th tournament in a row by the narrowest of margins: 225.5 to 221.

The Mustangs, who won the FCIAC in 2010, have finished second place in the FCIAC tournament 10 of the last 14 times it was held. There was no tournament in 2021 due to COVID-19.

“This was a year we had to win it in the wrestlebacks,” Danbury coach Ricky Shook said. “We are green at the upper weights and we don’t have many guys who have wrestled in this tournament. Cristian Pote (106) bonused all weekend and he won it for us. He really did win it for us. This one was the hardest to win just with everything wrestling went through and our town went through. Our numbers are way down from COVID.”

Staples was third with 151; Trumbull fourth at 140 and Ridgefield fifth at 139.5 points.

Shook said he would not have been surprised if Warde had pulled it out.

“Jason’s (Warde coach Shaughnessy) team is just as good as ours,” Shook said. “That’s a good team and next week (CIAC Class LL championship) will be another battle. This was a one-match thing. One match.”

In that 106-pound final, Pote was able to pin Owen Sheiman of Warde in 3:02, putting Danbury in the team lead for the first time Saturday.

“We had a good tournament but tournaments are won or lost in wrestlebacks and we had a tough wrestleback round,” Shaughnessy said. “That scoring gap closed and that put a lot of pressure on our finalists. We didn’t wrestle as well as we could have in the finals but it is not the finalist’s job to rise a team up and make them win. If we wrestle a little bit better, maybe things are different. It’s 4.5 points. That’s one win here or one win there. It’s a minuscule difference and it’s just that the team needs to wrestle a little bit better to beat Danbury.”

The 106-pounders were the sixth match of the finals, which began at 182 pounds with Greenwich’s Louis Ceci pinning Ryan Gilchrist of Norwalk in 5:57, with just :03 left after getting a takedown to tie the match seconds before.

“The last 10 seconds of that match were crazy,” Ceci said. “I was down and tried to hit a switch and ended up in a good position. I got him on his back and just held him. I have been working out for two years now for this moment. I wasn’t going to let that pin slip away from me.”

Trumbull won the 195 class with Aethan Munden pinning Mark Wrobel of Ludlowe in 1:17 and at 220, Lukas Cylwik pulled out a hard-fought 5-2 decision over Warde’s Nehemias Pettway.

“I noticed he was stronger than me so I tried to tire him out and wait for him to make a mistake and capitalize on that,” Cylwik said. “It felt pretty good getting the win over a very good wrestler. This was a lot of hard work to get here.”

At 285, Joseph Sansone of St. Joseph pinned Nuh Ajdinoski of Danbury, in 3:05.

Staples won at 99 pounds with Jack Francis beating Bisher Hiba of Trumbull, 11-2 in a major decision.

Ridgefield’s Dominic Barrella won at 113 pounds over Dominick Spadaro of Warde, 8-4.

In a contest between two friends and training partners, McMahon’s John Schneider defeated Phoenix Gardella of Norwalk 19-9 in a major decision at 120 pounds.

“Phoenix and I have been wrestling since fourth grade. He’s my partner forever. I love Phoenix, he’s like a brother to me,” Schneider said. “He beat me twice this year and it was great to get a win over him tonight. I almost got caught in a cradle. My dad almost had a heart attack in the stands but I wrestled smart and I was able to not turn it into a brawl like he likes it and just wrestle a smart match.”

At 126, Dylan Sherman of Ludlowe beat Nathan Blaha of Ridgefield, 4-3.

At 132, Warde got a glimmer of hope when Nick Fatone of Norwalk pinned Danbury’s Jesse Defonce at 5:16.

When Danbury’s Kai O’Dell took to the mat at 138 pounds he knew a win would likely secure the team win for the Hatters in terms of points.

O’Dell, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler, pinned RJ Decamillo of New Canaan in 3:45.

“When you go into a match like that, you have to feel really confident with all the work you know you put in,” O’Dell said. “Being a part of the Danbury legacy means a lot. Especially with this being my senior year. This is really great for me and my teammates and a great experience.”

Logan Kovacs of Danbury won at 145 over Zavier Hernandez of McMahon, 6-2

At 152, Lucas Coleman gave Warde its first win in the finals with a 8-6 decision over Lucas Ferreira of Ridgefield.

“Off my feet, I knew I could get my takedowns and turn him on top and get a couple of backs,” Coleman said. “I got that last standup at the end that I kind of needed. We were confident as a team coming in but some things didn’t go as we wanted to but we will fight back and get ready for next weekend and hopefully we can get the win.”

At 160, Andrey Kosygin of Ridgefield beat Noah Fraas of Staples, 7-2 and in the final match of the night, Warde’s Will Ebert pinned Ben Vansteen of McMahon in 1:17.

Sericson@stamfordadvocate.com; @EricsonSports

TEAM SCORES

1. Danbury 225.5; 2. Warde 221; 3. Staples 151; 4 Trumbull 140; 5. Ridgefield 139.5; 6. Norwalk 118.5; 7. McMahon 106.5 8. Ludlowe 102; 9. Greenwich 95; 10. New Canaan 70.5

INDIVIDUAL MATCHES

99: Jack Francis, Staples MD Bisher Hiba, Trumbull, 11-2

106: Cristian Pote Danbury PIN Owen Sheiman Warde, 3:02

113: Dominic Barrella, Ridgefield DEC. Dominick Spadaro, Warde, 8-4

120: John Schneider, McMahon MD Phoenix Gardella Norwalk, 19-9

126: Dylan Sherman, Ludlowe DEC Nathan Blaha Ridgefield, 4-3

132: Nick Fatone, Norwalk PIN Jesse Defonce, Danbury, 5:16

138: Kai O’Dell, Danbury PIN RJ Decamillo New Canaan, 3:45

145: Logan Kovacs, Danbury DEC Zavier Hernandez, McMahon, 6-2

152: Lucas Coleman, Warde DEC Lucas Ferreira Ridgefield, 8-6

160: Andrey Kosygin, Ridgefield DEC Noah Fraas, Staples, 7-2

170: Will Ebert, Warde PIN Ben Vansteen, McMahon, 1:17

182: Louis Ceci, Greenwich PIN Ryan Gilchrist, Norwalk, 5:57

195: Aethan Munden, Trumbull PIN Mark Wrobel, Ludlowe, 1:17

220: Lukas Cylwik, Trumbull DEC Nehemias Pettway, Warde, 5-2

285: Joseph Sansone, St Joseph PIN Nuh Ajdinoski, Danbury, 3:05