SIMSBURY, Dec. 14 – After five matches, the Simsbury High wrestling team had a 21-point lead over visiting Avon on opening night in the Central Connecticut Conference. With five of 14 matches remaining, the lead was still 21 points.
However, Avon rallied with three consecutive pins and a forfeit to take their first lead of the evening. It came down to a pair of freshmen battling it out at 120 pounds – the final bout of the evening. Noah Pryzbek threw Eli Johnson down to his back and won by pin in 38 seconds.
That gave Simsbury a 42-39 win over the upstart Falcons – the smallest margin of victory between the two Farmington Valley rivals since one-point Simsbury win, 40-39, in 2007.
“I love this team. They’re very young,” Avon coach John McLaughlin said. “They impressed me. They were scrappy and tough. I’m happy with the results.”
Avon has just three seniors and a junior on the team. The rest of the team are freshmen and sophomores. “We’re going to take our lumps and it will be a tough year in terms of wins and losses,” he said. “But slowly, by the end of the year, you’ll see us get better and better.”
Simsbury second-year coach T.J. Silva’s team was missing four starters including senior captain Jasper Stone (285), who was fourth at the State Open a year ago. Senior Nick Gugliotti (182), Matt Parker (160) and sophomore Mark Bedson (152) were also out of the lineup due to injuries.
“We’ll be a different team two weeks from now,” Silva said. “My expectations, when we are healthy, is to compete for the Class L title this year and place lots of guys at the New England (championships). Our goal every year will be to contend for a class, (State) Open and New England title. That’s the culture we are building here at Simsbury.”
Senior Josh Kowalski (152) was third in Class LL a year ago while junior Jackson King (195) was fifth in and senior Luke Salls (170) was second in Class LL.
Silva didn’t hold back when scheduling, either. Simsbury faces eight of the 10 teams currently ranked in the Norwich Bulletin’s preseason top 10 poll in a dual meet or tournament this season.
Avon sophomore Max Jacobs (126) began the match by beating Simsbury freshman Andrew Oken in overtime, 13-9. Jacobs got an escape at time expired in the third period to force overtime. But Simsbury raced out to a 24-3 lead thanks to pins from sophomore Elijan Eckert (132), senior Dylan Farci (138), junior Jack Montgomery (145) and Kowalski.
A pin for Avon senior Blake Edward (170) and a forfeit cut into the Simsbury lead but King picked up a forfeit to extend the Trojan lead to 21 points again, 36-15.
Avon picked up pins from senior Mike Lancaster (220), sophomore Abhi Bhabid (106) and sophomore Alex Rosenberg (113) along with a forfeit for junior Vinny Bonalumi to give Avon its first lead at 39-36.
Simsbury won the final bout to beat Avon for the 14th time in the last 19 dual meets between the two schools dating back to 1996. A year ago, Avon beat Simsbury for the first time since 2010 with a 45-30 decision.
Avon (0-1) returns to the mat on Saturday when they travel to the Plainville Invitational while Simsbury (1-0) will be competing at the Skip Arden Tournament at Manchester High.
Simsbury 42, Avon 39
126: Max Jacobs (A) dec. Andrew Oken, 13-9, OT; 132: Elijan Eckert (S) pin Justin Meador, 2:16; 138: Dylan Farci (S) pin Connor Galliher, 1:27; 142: Jack Montgomery (S) pin Grant Corbett, 2:50; 152: Josh Kowalski (S) pin Alec Wyatt, 2:58; 160: Jack Coleman (A) pin Colin Vincent, 3:03; 170: Blake Edwards (A) pin Will Henry, 0:22; 182: Matt Bourquin (A) forfeit; 195: Jackson King (S) forfeit; 220: Mike Lancaster (A) pin Nick Tarcia, 2:30; 285: Vinny Bonalumi (A) forfeit; 106: Abhi Bhabid (A) pin Matt Putnam, 5:39; 113: Alex Rostenberg (A) pin Aiden Brown, 3:04; 120: Noah Pryzbek (S) pin Eli Johnson, 0:38
Records: Simsbury 1-0, Avon 0-1