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Gendler take fourth to qualify for State Open – The Collinsville Press
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Gendler take fourth to qualify for State Open

WINDHAM, Feb. 20 – The Avon High wrestling team was built for the dual meet season. With nine new wrestlers in the lineup this year, the Falcons built a lineup that was able to win consistently this season. Few wrestlers were spectacular but they picked up victories on a steady pace.

The Falcons posted a record of 23-6 and won their fifth NCCC league championship in the last six years. They won the NCCC Tournament with 11 wrestlers in the finals and three individual champions.

But in the Class M championships, the Falcons couldn’t get by a stellar Bacon Academy program that captured its first-ever state championship. Three Avon wrestlers fell in the quarterfinals to Bacon wrestlers while a fourth lost to a wrestler from Ledyard, one of Bacon’s Eastern Connecticut Conference rivals. In fact, five of the top six teams in the tournament were from the ECC.

Avon had two wrestlers fight their way onto the podium at the end of the meet with juniors James Gendler (135) finishing fourth and Ryan Pearson (160) taking fifth. With his fourth place finish, Gendler earned the opportunity to compete at the State Open tournament.

Gendler (25-7) actually dropped his first match in the second round, falling to Clayton Johnston, the 12th seed from Bacon Academy, by pin in 5:30. But Gendler kept his head high and won four straight bouts in the consolation round to earn a spot in the consolation final. He finished fourth after a 10-7 loss to William Durant of Holy Cross.

Pearson (22-10) dropped his quarterfinal match to Danny Thompson of Bacon by a 6-3 score. Pearson won three of four consolation round matches to finish fifth. Pearson outlasted Corey Cinamella of Rockville, 2-1 in the consolation quarterfinals before dropping a 3-1 decision to Weaver’s James Cole. Pearson took fifth with an 8-4 decision over Platt’s Michael Carrero.

Jessica McCamish (103), Jason Lybeck (112), Joe Murphy (145) and Mike Hogan (152) each went 2-2 in the tournament. Hogan finished with a team-high 36 wins and seven losses. Avon finished 12th in the field with 72.5 points.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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