SIMSBURY, Feb. 6 – There were no free rides Wednesday night in an epic high school match between No. 2 Simsbury and No. 4 Farmington. Both teams were undefeated and the CCC West championship was on the line.
In all 14 matches, it was at least six minutes of hard wrestling. There were no pins. In fact, two matches went into triple OT.
In front of a roaring crowd of around 500, Farmington rallied from a 10-point deficit and won the final three bouts of the match to beat Simsbury, 24-23 in a thrilling decision that was decided in the final contest of the day and in triple overtime.
Not only did Farmington finish 32-0 but they also won their first outright league championship with a 6-0 record. The Indians shared their only other league championship in 2007 with two other teams in the now defunct Northwest Conference. Simsbury, which was looking for its first league title since 2001, finishes with a 22-1 record and 5-1 in the CCC West.
“Everyone did their job,” Farmington coach Eric Misko said. “The guys came out and wrestled their butts off. Everyone stepped up. Every match mattered. Every point counted.”
Simsbury had a 23-13 lead after John DePasquale’s victory at 138 points. With just three matches remaining, the visiting Indians were backed into a corner. But they kept fighting and wrestling hard.
Ryan Rigney (145) picked up a crucial 8-0 decision over Austin Weiss and because he won by eight points instead of seven, Rigney earned four team points. Winning a match by seven or less earns a team three points. Rigney got a late takedown in the third period to push his lead to eight and earn that extra point.
At 152, Farmington’s Mason Yancey got a takedown with 15 seconds remaining to extend his lead to nine in a 12-3 victory over Tyler Stemm and secure four points for the Indians. Rigney and Yancey’s win cut the Simsbury lead to two, 23-21 with one match remaining.
At 160 pounds, Farmington’s Harry Pacheco and Simsbury’s Edward Novak battled to a 1-1 tie after three periods. The only points scored were on one-point escapes. After two scoreless overtime periods, the two lined up for a final 30 second period. Pacheco chose the down position. If he could escape, he would win. If not, it would be Novak’s victory.
Pacheco escaped within 10 seconds to win the match, 2-1, and spark a wild Farmington celebration among the wrestlers and fans in the stands.
“It came down to heart,” Pacheco said. “I thought about this team and the run we’ve had this season and I couldn’t let it end like that. I knew I had to do something special. I knew it took a lot from my teammates to set it up for me.”
If Yancey and Rigney don’t get those extra team points, Pacheco would have had to pin Novak to give Farmington the win. His teammates came up with other crucial performances.
At 132, Farmington’s Garrett Hastings made a second period escape stand up in a 1-0 decision over Keith Fernandes. And at 120 pounds. Farmington’s George Sticca was taken down four times by Simsbury’s Ben Durst. But Sticca continued to fight, escaping four times and taking down Durst once in a 10-6 loss.
“We kept it close so other guys could do their jobs,” Misko said. “That is what we did all year. We grinded it out and battled. We pulled it together.”
The match was tied at 6-6 after the first four matches. Simsbury took the lead when Christian Kaljulaid (285) beat Brandon Marquis, 3-2 in triple OT and extended its lead to seven when Vinny Palmero (106) won by 10. Drew Dahlberg (113) earned a nine-point win for Farmington but Simsbury’s Ben Durst (120) and Keith Penney (126) won to extend Simsbury’s lead to 20-10.
Hastings’ victory at 132 pounds cut the Farmington lead to seven but DePasquale (138) won to push the lead back to 10 points with three matches remaining.
“We knew it would be a great match,” Simsbury coach Ernie Goodwin said. “I don’t think anyone expected no pins. I told the kids I was so proud of them and they should hold their heads up high. We battled and that was a great match that could have gone either way.”
Farmington 24, Simsbury 23
170: Dovydas Simanskis (F) dec. James DeMaio, 6-1; 182: Mike Berlandy (F) dec. Brandon Molnar, 7-1; 195: Jacob Feldman (S) dec. Joe Fillian, 6-4; 220: Brad Helmkamp (S) dec. Thomas Stevens, 7-2; 285: Christian Kaljulaid (S) dec. Brandon Marquis, 3-2, 3 OT; 106: Vinny Palmero (S) dec. Joey Miano, 13-3; 113: Drew Dahlberg (F) dec. August Savarese, 11-2; 120: Ben Durst (S) dec. George Sticca 10-6; 126: Keith Penney (S) dec. Chris Thomas, 8-0; 132: Garrett Hastings (F) dec. Keith Fernandes, 1-0; 138: John DePasquale (S) dec. Joe Carpino, 6-2; 145: Ryan Rigney (F) dec. Austin Weiss, 8-0; 152: Mason Yancey (F) dec. Tyler Stemm, 12-3; 160: Harry Pacheco (F) dec. Edward Novak, 2-1, 3 OT
Records: Farmington 32-0, 6-0 CCC West; Simsbury 22-1, 5-1 CCC West