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No. 5 Simsbury looks sharp in dominating win over Southington

Simsbury's Mike Ryan looks to get a reversal but Southington's Mike Devin is holding on Wednesday's match at 160 pounds. Devin won, 4-3.

Simsbury’s Mike Ryan looks to get a reversal but Southington’s Mike Devin is holding on Wednesday’s match at 160 pounds. Devin won, 4-3.

SIMSBURY – The Simsbury High wrestling team has beaten Southington a few times over the last two decades – but it was nothing like what happened on Wednesday night.

The Trojans had pins in the first five weight classes and won seven of the first nine bouts to earn a 57-15 CCC West decision over Southington. It’s most lopsided win by the Trojans over Southington since winning by 33 points in 1996.

“I think it says that they are banged up and injured,” Simsbury coach Ernie Goodwin said Wednesday night. “They’re a tough team. If you look at their initial roster, it would have been an all-out battle. But they’re dealing with some tough injuries right now.”

Southington coach Derek Dion wasn’t in the mood to make excuses. “We have a lot of work to do and we have to get it done,” he said. “We have to get in some good practices in.”

The Blue Knights (2-3, 0-1 CCC West) are in a pickle and Dion wants to focus on the work that his team needs to accomplish in practice and on the mat. “(Simsbury) was a little more aggressive and we just began working technique this week,” he said.

The fact is that Southington is in a bind because how long the high school football season went. Dion had several wrestlers on the Blue Knight football team that won its first Class LL championship since 1999 on Thursday, Dec. 19 – one day after the opening day of the wrestling season.

Even if the finals had not been delayed by snow and rain, the season would have ended on Saturday, Dec. 14. It’s a burden to the eight schools that play in the four respective football championship games.

Some wrestlers need time to heal. Others need time to get certified to wrestle at their respective weight classes. Some were hurt. Running back Tyler Hyde was forecast to wrestle at 170 pounds but he broke his wrist in the championship game win over Fairfield Prep. And some were too tired or hurt to continue a physical sport such as wrestling.

Simsbury, ranked No. 5 in the latest high school state coaches poll, looked sharp. Not only did they win the first five matches by pin but gave up just one takedown in the first eight matches.

Rob Misericordia (120), Keith Penney (126), Ryan Juliano (132), Keith Fernandes (138) and Lee Doyle (145) got Simsbury off to a dominating start and a 30-0 lead with five consecutive first period pins. Three came in less than a minute and Fernandes won his match in 15 seconds.

“We look for our guys to set the tempo of the match and get their wrestling done,” Goodwin said. “If you’re going to lose, make sure the other guys beats you and you don’t beat yourself.”

Two wins by Southington provided a brief spark of hope for the Knights. Alex Martin (152) got a takedown in overtime to beat Sean Penney, 4-2 and Sean Devin (160) held off a late rally from Mike Ryan for a 4-3 win.

But Simsbury (2-0, 1-0 CCC West) ensured that there would be big comeback on this evening. Tucker Salls (170) and James DeMaio (182) had pins in 4:50 and 1:02, respectively, to secure this victory.

Simsbury's James DeMaio controls Southington's Jake Armstrong in a 182-pound match. DeMaio won by pin.

Simsbury’s James DeMaio controls Southington’s Jake Armstrong in a 182-pound match. DeMaio won by pin.

It was Simsbury’s second straight win over Southington – something they haven’t done since winning three in a row in 1996-98.

“They’re focused and they’re battling hard,” Goodwin said. “For the most part, they wrestled smart. They’re a tough team. A lot of them did off-season wrestling and it’s showing, which is nice.”

Simsbury has no time to rest on its laurels. This Saturday, they travel to Ledyard to compete in the Jerry Watkins Colonel Duals with No. 7 Ledyard (5-1), South Kingston, Rhode Island and Timberlane, N.H., a program that won five straight New England championships from 2008-12 before they took second last March.

The Trojans host always-tough CCC West rival Conard next Wednesday night, Jan. 15, before heading to Danbury on Friday night to face the state’s top-ranked team on the road.

“This is a nice stretch of good hard wrestling for us,” Goodwin said. “We’ll know where we stand. We have some kids with some aspirations. They’ll know where they stand after these two weeks.”

For Southington, defending State Open champion Zach Maxwell, an outstanding All-State linebacker for the champion football team, beat Jacob Feldman in a hard-fought bout at 195 pounds. Zach Murrillo won at 106, pinning Simsbury’s Josh Kowalski in 4:58.

Simsbury 57, Southington 15
At Simsbury
120: Rob Misericordia (Sims) pin Austin Garuti (South) 0:52. 126: Keith Penney (Sims) pin Kyle Solomon (South) 1:46. 132: Ryan Juliano (Sims) pin Josh Gravel (South) 1:45. 138: Keith Fernandes (Sims) pin Adam Dell (South) 0:15. 145: Lee Doyle (Sims) pin John Vecchio (South) 0:53. 152: Alex Martin (South) dec. Sean Penney (Sims) 4-2, OT. 160: Sean Devin (South) dec. Mike Ryan (Sims) 4-3. 170: Tucker Salls (Sims) pin Stefan Mayette (South) 4:50. 182: James DeMaio (Sims) pin Jake Armstrong (South) 1:02. 195: Zach Maxwell (South) dec. Jacob Feldman (Sims) 8-1. 220: John Daguerre-Bradford (Sims) pin Andrew Syzmanski (South) 2:56. 285: Brad Helmkamp (Sims) forfeit; 106: Zach Murillo (South) pin Josh Kowalski (Sims) 4:58. 113: Vincent Palermo (Sims) dec. Austin Abacherll (South) 15-8
Records: Simsbury 2-0, 1-0 CCC West; Southington 2-3, 0-1 CCC West

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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