AVON – It’s been a busy two weeks for the Avon High wrestling team. The Falcons have wrestled in two tournaments and in 11 dual meets already.
Avon squeezed in a trip to the KSA Duals at Disney World in Kissimmee, Florida on Dec. 29-30 and that forced some adjustments to the schedule. “It’s been a rough stretch with a lot of wrestling,” Avon coach John McLaughlin said.
Avon is off to a fine start, though. The Falcons are 9-2 overall and 3-0 in the North Central Connecticut Conference. Avon was second in a challenging Plainville Invitational tournament on Dec. 20 that was won by Triton Regional from Runnemede, N.J., who nipped the Falcons by just 2½ points. And the Falcons were fourth in the always-tough Bristol Central Invitational on Saturday.
It’s helped prepare the Falcons for the remainder of the season. It is the final season in the NCCC for the Falcons and they have currently won 54 NCCC dual meets in a row. They haven’t lost a league match since 2007. “Certainly our goal is to win the NCCC,” McLaughlin said. “It will probably come down to us, Suffield and Granby.”
Avon beat Granby on opening day, 52-25 and face the Suffield/Windsor Locks/East Granby co-op on the final day of the regular season, Feb. 11.
Avon hopes to be a contender for the Class M championship in February. “We have an outside shot in Class M, “McLaughlin said. “If they team comes together, the guys are in the right weight classes and everyone is healthy, we might have a shot.”
Avon has a strong core of wrestlers led by seniors Gino Bonalumi (285), Kurt Ollestead (220), Jamie Dlugolecki (160) and Johnny Oh (126). They were among the seven Avon wrestlers that earned a medal (top six) at the 33rd annual Bristol Central Invitational.
Bonalumi, currently 18-1, finished second, dropping his first match of the season in the final, losing to Farmington’s Vin Stevens, 1-0. Ollestead (18-3) and Dlugolecki (16-6) each took third while Oh (18-2) finished fifth.
Junior Anthony Tripodi (106) was second at Bristol Central, dropping an 8-2 decision to Shiva Bhoge of Mohonasen, N.Y. Junior Jack St. Onge (152) was sixth while sophomore Peter Oh was fifth at 113 pounds.
No. 3 New Milford set a new tournament record with 311 points as they had a medalwinner in all 14 weight classes. No. 9 Bristol Eastern was second with 220 points. Ledyard was third with 171½ points while the Falcons were fourth in 168½ points. It was the best finish for Avon at the tournament since sharing third place in 2009.
Avon went 3-2 in Florida in the KSA Duals at Disney World in Orlando. Avon beat eventual winner Kirtland, Ohio on the first day of the two-day event, 39-25. The Falcons also beat Chase Collegiate from Waterbury, 43-21 and Whitman-Hanson Regional High from eastern Massachusetts, 46-27.
“It was good to see some tough teams from Ohio and New York. They were very physical teams,” McLaughlin said. “After that, it doesn’t seem as tough when you face a good team here in Connecticut.”
On day two, Avon lost to Kirtland, 34-32 and dropped a 51-30 decision to Mt. Sinai, N.Y., a team from Long Island.
The squad helped fundraise over the past year to pay for trip. They arrived Sunday afternoon and left on Thursday. Two days later, they were in Bristol at the Bristol Central Invitational. Athletes had to come up with a few hundred dollars to make the trip.
Avon did well at the Plainville Invitational with eight wrestlers finishing in the top four of their respective weight classes. Tripodi (106), Jonny Oh (126) and Bonalumi (285) each finished first while Ollestead and Marvyn Escobar (195) finished third. Blake Edwards (170), Dlugolecki (160) and Peter Oh (120) each took fourth.
Eight medalwinners in Plainville and seven medalists in Bristol is the kind of depth Avon will need if they hope to challenge Ledyard in the Class M tournament.
NOTES: Senior Kaely Quijano won an exhibition class at 98 pounds at the Bristol Central Tournament. Quijano (6-0) pinned Bristol Eastern’s Bryce Beebe in the semifinal in 4:00 and beat Eastern’s Jordan Champagne in the final, 7-2. Quijano, a NCCC champion pole vaulter with the Avon outdoor track and field team, has been wrestling for years. … Avon received a vote in the state coaches top 10 poll in week 3. It’s the first votes since the first week of the 2011 season.