Warde wrestling hoping this is the year they can get back on top in the FCIAC

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Warde senior wrestling captains Jeremy Brault and Will Ebert in the Mustangs wrestling room.

Warde senior wrestling captains Jeremy Brault and Will Ebert in the Mustangs wrestling room.

Scott Ericson / Hearst Connecticut Media

The Warde wrestlers know the history as well as anyone.

Danbury has won 33 of the last 34 FCIAC wrestling titles and the one year it did not, 2010, it was Warde celebrating on the mats in New Canaan where the event is held every winter.

If Danbury were not in the way, wrestling fans in Fairfield County would be talking about the dynasty at Warde because coming into this season, the Mustangs have finished in second place in the FCIAC Tournament nine of the last 13 times it was held.

There was no tournament in 2021 due to COVD-19 restrictions.

“The goal is only to win FCIACs and States and that has not happened that often because of Danbury,” Warde coach Jason Shaughnessey said. “When you put a goal forth for a tournament like the FCIACs it requires an effort from 14 kids. If you don’t get production from all 14 kids, you’re not going to be winning the FCIAC. You need to get 14 kids into placement rounds for the most part to have any shot at winning.”

The FCIAC Championships are this weekend in New Canaan with trials on Friday; wrestle backs starting at 10 a.m. Saturday and the finals scheduled for Saturday at 4 p.m.

This time around, Warde might just have a team good enough to reclaim the championship after going 20-1 this season with a talented mix of upperclassmen and freshmen.

The lone loss was a one-point defeat to who else, Danbury.

“I’ve been to some national tournaments, but the FCIACs are different because while it might not be as tough of competition as nationals, it’s higher stakes because it matters how you are doing for your school. You are not just wrestling for yourself, but for your team,” Warde senior captain Will Ebert sad. “I think this year it will be really close in FCIACs, States and the State Open. I think we will have great runs and I think we can knock them off. It is just about whether some of our guys can compete as well as they can and some of our guys need to do a little better than they are supposed to do.”

Ebert is 24-0 wrestling at 170 pounds. In 2020 he was the Class LL champion at 145 pounds, also finishing second at the State Open and sixth at the New England championships.

“Will was always very good on top and very good mat wrestler,” Shaughnessey said. “The last two years he has worked hard in the offseason to work on his feet. Now, he’s a very good three-position wrestler and strong at each position. He gets tough matches in the offseason and wrestles at a very high level. He knows what it’s like to compete and wrestle against some of the best kids in the nation.”

Ebert is joined as a captain by fellow senior Jeremy Brault, who wrestles at 145 and went 19-3 this season.

Brault said it took some time to get going after having last season canceled but the work most of the wrestlers do in their offseason clubs helped have them prepared.

“Some of the kids haven’t wrestled in two years and kids had to break off the rust this season. As the season has gone on, we have been getting a lot better. It’s been exciting to watch,” Brault said. “All of us have a very close bond. That’s true of all wrestlers. We all knew each other but we have gotten so much closer after a full season together. For bigger matches, we always say that the first match pushes the tempo and we go from there.”

Juniors Lucas Coleman at 152 (22-1) and 220-pounder Nehemias Pettway (22-3) have been consistent all season but it could be a youth movement that takes the Mustangs from second to first.

Ebert and Coleman are seeded No. 1 in their weight classes while Pettway is No. 2.

The team has three freshmen, Owen Sheiman (106, 22-1); Dominick Spadaro (112, 22-0) and Ben Zuckerman (120, 22-1) all at the top of their weight classes.

All three are No. 1 seeds in the FCIAC Tournament.

The freshmen trio has kickstarted the Mustangs in three of the lower weight classes.

“The first three kids in weight class order are 66-2. They are three good freshmen who start us rolling and we’ve done very well in the lower weights,” Shaughnessey said. “We are a pretty consistent team and have good wrestlers at most of the weights. All in all the kids worked really hard and they have come together and done well this season. We have a good squad, we are wrestling well, we are motivated and we like to think we are in contention to compete for both FCIACs and States. We are excited to see how it plays out.”

sericson@stamfordadvocate.com; @EricsonSports