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Undefeated Murphy wins state title

AVON, Feb. 18 — Avon High’s Joey Murphy finally found some competition at the CIAC Class M wrestling championships. It didn’t slow him down too much. But then, there hasn’t been too much that has slowed him this season.

Avon’s Joey Murphy

Murphy remained undefeated at 40-0 with a 10-4 decision over Waterford’s Matt Tulba in the final at 170 pounds in the Class M tournament at Windham High. Murphy was the lone Valley wrestler to bring home a state championship.

Avon’s Alex Heston finished second in Class M at 120 pounds while Simsbury’s Christian Kalijulaid (285) was second at the Class LL wrestling tournament. Simsbury’s Ben Durst (113) was third in Class LL while Granby’s Zach Rivera (152) and Jordyn Hurley (182) finished third at the Class S meet in Higgnaum.

Other medalwinners included Canton’s Skylar Lang (182) taking fifth in Class S and Canton’s Chris Mutch (195), Matt White (138), Granby’s Nicholas Paolino (126) and Avon’s Dan Rodruguez (160) each finishing sixth.

Murphy has rolled through this season with few challenges. He got a few in the Class M tournament. In the semifinals, third seed Ray Sherwood of Guilford got the first takedown off Murphy and grabbed an early 2-0 lead. Murphy shrugged it off and rolled to a 9-5 victory.

“Joey is a punishing wrestler,” Avon coach John McLaughlin said. “He just doesn’t stop. Some kids take a second, access the situation. Joey doesn’t. It’s attack, attack, attack. When people relax for a second, that is when Joey scores.”

Murphy is the first Avon wrestler to bring home a state championship since Conor Douglas in 2009.

Heston’s bid for a state title came up short in a 6-4 loss to Bacon Academy’s Chris Elrod. Heston worked hard to make it to the finals. After an easy 15-point decision in his first match, Heston beat Montville’s Kyler Fricke in the quarterfinals on a takedown, 2-0 and slipped past No. 2 seed Michael Graff of Ledyard in the semifinals, 3-1.

In the final, Elrod took a quick 4-1 lead in the first period but Heston (34-7) fought his way back into the match. He was on his feet trying for the tying takedown in the final 45 seconds of the match.

Kalijulaid second place finish at 285 pounds in the Class LL tournament was an outstanding finish for the Simsbury junior, who took up wrestling for the first time in December. Two victories by pin put Kalijulaid (28-11) into the semifinals where he used an escape to slip past Daykion Aleman of New Haven, 1-0. No. 4 Travis Daly of Southington pinned Kalijulaid in the final in 1:23 to win the championship.

His Simsbury teammate Ben Durst (113) finished strong with two solid victories to finish third in the Class LL tournament. Durst (34-2) lost for just the second time this year in the semifinals in a 6-3 loss to Conor Caffrey of South Windsor. But he rebounded with a 4-1 win over Manchester’s Ryan Jurewicz and an 8-2 decision over Danbury’s Chris Bryant in a tension-filled match.

Bryant and Danbury were looking for additional points with the Hatters in a tight duel with Xavier for the Class LL championship. Xavier erased a 12-point lead in the finals to beat Danbury by 10 and win its second straight Class LL championship.

Granby’s Zach Rivera (152) had a thrilling march into the semifinals. He was losing by 13 points at one point to Housatonic’s Tyler Spaddacini. The lead was 10 points when Rivera hit a reversal that stunned Spaddacini. And then, Rivera sank a half-nelson, turned him over and pinned him with 17 seconds left in the match.

Rivera (30-15) lost in the semifinals to Nonnewaug’s John D’Agostino but Rivera won two straight to finish third. In the consolation final, Rivera and Killingly’s Ilya Whittemore were tied at 3-3 after two periods. Rivera escaped with 19 seconds left to earn a 4-3 decision.

Granby’s Jordyn Hurley (182) battled hard throughout the tournament. A two-point win put Hurley into the semifinals where he lost to Griswold’s Aaron Wing. After winning his first consolation match, Hurley faced Holy Cross’ Andrew Pennacchio in the consolation final. Hurley prevailed, 1-0, with an escape with 1:45 left in regulation to finish third.

Avon finished 10th in the Class M tournament while Simsbury was 10th in the Class LL tournament. Canton was 13th  in Class S while Granby finished 18th. The top six wrestlers in each weight class qualified for the State Open.

Canton’s White missed the NCCC tournament after straining his neck a few days earlier in practice. But he was healthy enough to compete in the Class S tournament where he won his first two matches by pin. In the semifinals against Gilbert’s Dylan Jefferis, White got the first takedown but Jefferis began to seize control, building an 11-4 lead before White had to retire when he re-aggravated his neck injury.

Avon’s Jessica McCammish (106) failed in her attempt to become just the second girl in state history to earn a spot in the State Open by finishing in the top six of her weight class. McCammish (18-6) won her first bout by pin but lost in the quarterfinals to top-seeded Sebby Ruffino of Windham, 4-2. She won her first consolation round match but was eliminated in a 2-1 decision to Foran’s Liam Callahan, who earned an Open bid with the victory.

Somers’ junior captain Kyle Foster had three pins to get into the finals at 195 pounds where he outlasted Killingly’s Jake Whitehead, 5-2 to win a state title. Foster had a pair of pins in under two minutes and earned a spot in the finals by pinning Derby’s Luis Casco in 3:18.

Class M tournament
At Windham
Team scores — 1. Ledyard 260, 2. Windham High 232, 3. Bacon Academy 148, 4. Montville 134, 5. Waterford 115, 6. Platt High 112, 7. Berlin 104, 8. Foran 94½, 9. Brookfield 89, 10. Avon 86½, 11. Branford 75½, 12. Guilford 74, 13. New Fairfield 73, 14. Wolcott Tech 70, 15. Jonathan Law 66½, 16. Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech 66, 17. Immaculate/Joel Barlow 62, 18. SMSA/University 44, 19. Fermi 36, 20. Bethel 33, 21. Stratford 26½, 22. Enfield 26, 23. Vinal Tech 25½, 24. New London 23, 25. East Haven 22, 26. Cheney Tech 19, 27. Woodstock Academy 15, 28. Norwich Tech 8, 29. Ellis Tech 5, 30. (tie) Wilcox Tech, Tolland, Sheehan and Rockville 0.
Individual results
106: Championship: Evon Marcauerle (Ledyard) pin Sebby Ruffino (Windham) 1:05; 3rd place: Brentt Smith (Waterford) dec. Thomas Wynosky (Montville) 1-0; 5th place: Chris Oyola (Platt) won by default over Liam Callahan (Foran)
113: Championship: Michael Ruffino (Windham) dec. Matt Mcallister (Bacon Academy) 3-1; 3rd place: Ethan Greider (Berlin) pin Nicholas Lauer (Ledyard) 3:39; 5th place: Joseph Martone (Branford) dec. Joseph Rainville (Montville) 7-2
120: Championship: Chris Elrod (Bacon Academy) dec. Alex Heston (Avon) 6-4; 3rd place: Edward Rivera (Branford) dec. Brian Manes (Law) 12-8; 5th place: Michael Graff (Ledyard) dec. Grayson Deluca (Woodstock Academy) 2-0
126: Championship: Carl Luth (Foran) pin Howard Kilpatrick (Bacon Academy) 4:40; 3rd place: Jacob Caskey (Montville) dec. Ryan Bannon (Law) 10-5; 5th place: Matthew Jones (Ledyard) won by default over Taylor Grauer (Windham)
132: Championship: Miguel Calixto (Windham) pin Blaise Boullianne (Brookfield) 1:44; 3rd place: Matthew Cadiz (Cheney Tech) dec. Justin Timberlake (Ledyard) 3-2; 5th place: Rich Schlichting (Berlin) dec. Kevin Carregal (Guilford) 8-4
138: Championship: Jake Eliades (Berlin) dec. Brandon Finney (Ledyard) 7-2; 3rd place: Nicholas Bellerose (Montville) dec. Dakota Fleming (Windham) 2-0; 5th place: Youssef Saez (Platt) won by default over Luke Stojanowski (Foran)
145: Championship: Clay Callahan (Foran) dec. Thomas Millaras (Waterford) 6-1; 3rd place: William Finney (Ledyard) dec. Nate Misbach (Guilford) 5-2; 5th place: David Travisano (Branford) won by default over Alexander Lopez (Platt)
152: Championship: Jack Mckeever (Brookfield) dec. Mikey Amorando (New Fairfield) 4-2; 3rd place: Rick Mullins (Berlin) dec. Kiante Macon (SMSA/University) 12-2; 5th place: Ryan Lyons (Ledyard) dec. Jacob Schmalz (Montville) 3-0
160: Championship: Alex Manwaring (Ledyard) dec. Devyn Petsa (Windham) 10-6; 3rd place: Kristion Neysmith (Platt) dec. Jordan Zima (Berlin) 3-0; 5th place: Dylan Robbins (Fermi) dec. Dan Rodruguez (Avon) 4-2
170: Championship: Joe Murphy (Avon) dec. Matthew Tulba (Waterford) 10-4; 3rd place: Mike Carrero (Platt) dec. Chris Deisenroth (Immaculate/Barlow) 7-2; 5th place: Ryan Sherwood (Guilford) won by default over Dan Kurasz (Montville)
182: Championship: Joel Wamser (Brookfield) dec. Michael Spellman (Ledyard) 5-2; 3rd place: Kyle Wing (Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech) pin Kayron Macon (SMSA/University) 4:21; 5th place: Devin Bedard (Montville) won by default over Marcus Jenkins (Windham)
195: Championship: Nicholas Poulin (Windham) dec. Steven Ghossaini (Immaculate/Barlow) 7-4; 3rd place: Tom Scott (Bacon Academy) pin Dan Fortier (Wolcott Tech) 24 seconds; 5th place: Marcus Deren (Vinal Tech) dec. Ariel Leon (Stratford) 4-2
220: Championship: Joshua Lawrence (Ledyard) dec. Patrick Sawicki (Bacon Academy) 15-3; 3rd place: Xavier Kernozek (Windham) dec. Ryan Tharas (New Fairfield) 9-2; 5th place: Shane Manley (Waterford) dec. Dustin Chang (Wolcott Tech) 7-3
285: Championship: Wolfgang Fiasconar (Windham) dec. Darick Orange (Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech) 4-2; 3rd place: Joe Amorando (New Fairfield) dec. Ryan Murtha (Montville) 3-1; 5th place: Jesse Wolfe (Platt) pin Benjamin Morales (Ledyard) 3:58.
Outstanding wrestler:  Miguel Calixto (132), Windham

Fastest fall winner: Devon Macaurele, Ledyard, 106, 3 pins, 2:26

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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