Late rally makes Newtown’s Luca Manfredi a state wrestling champ

Newtown’s Luca Manfredi was faced with an uphill climb.

The No. 1 seed at 132 pounds in the CIAC Class L wrestling tournament, Manfredi trailed No. 3 Anthony Basile of Xavier halfway through their bout in the finals.

A few minutes later, Manfredi was a state champion.

Manfredi scored the final seven points of the match, including a 3-point nearfall with 30 seconds remaining, and defeated Basile for the title at the Nicholas Zeoli Field House in Wilton on Saturday.

It was a remarkable turnabout for the junior, who was not only losing by six points, but had dropped a 23-4 technical fall to Basile in December.

“In my first match of the season, I got teched by him, so I was really nervous going out there,” Manfredi said. “But I just wrestled to have fun and did some crazy moves which turned out to benefit me.”

The comeback started with a reversal to make it 9-5 after two periods. With a minute elapsed in the third, Manfredi picked up two more points with another reversal, closing the gap to two, before nearly pinning Basile and jumping in front.

Basile fought for an escape which would’ve tied the match, but Manfredi rode his opponent until time expired.

“I was behind, but I just did a move that we did at the beginning of the year just for fun and it put me back in the lead,” Manfredi, who is 27-3, said. “Then I was just staying on top, holding on for dear life just to ride it out.

“I was smiling once I knew I got the win.”

The final was not the only recent revenge match for Manfredi, who won the 132-pound SWC championship by pinning Scott Romano of Joel Barlow in the final at 3:23. Romano had defeated Manfredi 7-2 in December.

Manfredi’s Class L performance was part of a big day for the Nighthawks, who finished third with 173.5 points. Xavier won with a state-record 318.5 points, and Simsbury was second with 234.5.

Newtown had eight wrestlers reach the podium, and two in the finals.

Marc Maurath, a freshman, finished as the runner-up at 138 pounds after losing to Xavier’s Dylan Levesque 18-6 in the final.

None of the eight medalists for Newtown were seniors.

Junior Ben Plaue (120) and sophomore Tommy Milligan (106) were third, freshman Brendan McAnaspie (145) was fourth, and junior Acea Shaham (195), sophomore Fisher Stites (160) and freshman Kenna Gioffre (113) were sixth.

“We’re a very young team,” Manfredi said. “Half of this team is freshmen — Marc is just a freshman and he got second place at states. So I think we have a bright future ahead of us.”; @dstewartsports