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Long-time wrestling coach Bill Phelps honored at final home match

CANTON, Feb. 8, 2010 – With his wrestling coaching career now down to a matter of days, Canton High mentor Bill Phelps saw his Warriors pick up three victories last week. In his final home match before many former wrestlers, parents and friends, the Warriors beat Granby, 54-28.

On the weekend, they picked up another two victories at the Groundhog Duals in South Windsor by beating Portland, 43-33 and Lyman Memorial, 64-12. The Warriors (10-20, 2-4 NCCC) nearly beat Rockville in a 43-38 loss and dropped a 60-18 decision to South Windsor.

In the loss to Rockville and the other Groundhog Dual bouts, Canton gave up 18 points (three weight classes) in forfeits. However, forfeits due to illness and a lack of wrestlers has been a challenge for the Warriors all season long.

The win over Granby was an emotional one for the team and Phelps, who was honored in the final home match of his 27-year career. Many former wrestlers and their parents were among the crowd who were treated to a brief slide show of Phelps coaching the Warriors throughout the years and words of congratulations from his long-time assistant coach Ed deSimas.

“Seeing all of those kids. That was the most touching moment,” Phelps said. “The letters and notes that I’ve received from kids and the parents was great. That is what meant more to me. It’s not about the wins and losses. It’s about the friendships we’ve made along the way.”

Thanks to five forfeits in the first eight weight classes, Canton took command early against Granby. Nate Getler (140 pounds) and Chris Giesselman (103) had pins for the Warriors while Matt Grisevich (135) earned a 12-2 decision.

At the Groundhog Duals, the Warriors went 2-2 but Matt White (119) and Steve Carpenter (125) and Rich Jones (160) each went 4-0. Carpenter (31-2) had three pins and a technical fall while White (23-4) had three pins.

Jones, who has a team-high 35 wins in 37 matches, had two pins. His 27 pins are four shy of the single-season school record of 31 set by Kacy O’Connor nearly a decade ago.

Getler (135) went 3-1 to improve to 30-3 on the year. His only loss was to defending State Open champion Joe Sargenti of South Windsor, 8-1. Grisevich (130) went 3-1 to improve to 26-7.

Canton concluded its regular season campaign on Wednesday at Somers but they wrestle in the NCCC Tournament this weekend in Granby. Canton could be a contender in the league tournament. Getler, Carpenter and Jones each have over 30 wins. White and Matt Grisevich each have over 25 wins. Brian Fitzgerald was wrestling well before getting the flu two weeks ago.

The key to Canton’s success lies in the consolation round of the double-elimination tournament. If the wrestlers can shake off a loss, return and win some matches, they could be dangerous.

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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