PROVIDENCE, R.I., March 4 – Simsbury’s Jasper Stone carried big expectations on his shoulders coming into his senior year with the Trojan wrestling team.
They didn’t diminish much even when he missed several weeks with knee surgery after the football season. Stone didn’t disappoint when he returned winning his first 21 matches.
Stone fell in the championship match at 285 pounds in the Class L tournament, dropping a 3-1 decision to Hand’s Michael Burchell. At the State Open, Stone lost in the quarterfinals in triple overtime to Platt’s Nick Martone on escape with eight seconds left. He lost again to Burchell, 3-2, in the consolation semifinals.
But Stone beat New Haven’s Jacarie Houston, 2-1, to secure an invitation to the New England tournament for the second consecutive year.
At the New England tournament, Stone felt good – better than he has all season. He had confidence in his healing knee and it showed.
Stone (32-4) beat the state champions from Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut to earn a trip to the New England championship match at 285 pounds. But Rhode Island champion Nicholas Martino of Bishop Henricken was too strong in a 1-0 decision.
Martino made a second period, one-point escape stand up in the victory and rode out Stone in the third period.
“He dominates on top typically,” Bishop Hendricken coach Kevin Hennessey said of Martino. “He wrestled a little timid and reserved but that was fine. It is all about getting the win. Once you get someone broken down on the mat, you want to secure them, hold them down and let the clock run a bit.”
“I thought there was a truck on my back in the third period,” Stone said. “I knew I had to be really offensive and stay in good position. It wasn’t enough but it was a great match and I loved every second of it.”
It was an outstanding tournament for Stone, who plays linebacker for the Simsbury High football team in the fall and rugby for the Trojans in the spring.
“I came in here and I wanted to give everyone hell and not give up,” Stone said. “This has been my best wrestling of the year. My knee finally feels good. I feel strong and if I put weight on it, it doesn’t bother me.”
Simsbury coach T.J. Silva said, “Jasper is always looking to score points. Most of the time it goes in his favor.”
Stone began the tournament with 7-3 win over Rob Brown of North Kingstown, R.I. before beating Massachusetts champion Carlos Cabrera of Central Catholic in triple OT, 3-2 with an one-point escape with 12 seconds remaining. If Calbrera had been able to hold on for another 12 seconds, he would have advanced.
In the quarterfinals, Stone beat Vermont champion Hunter Ladd of St. Johnsbury, 3-1 with a two-point takedown in OT. Stone beat Connecticut champion Michael Gaboardi of Danbury, 4-0 in the semifinals. Stone was leading 2-0 with both men on their feet and time winding down in the third period but Stone got the takedown with 13 seconds remaining to secure the victory.
Connecticut had four wrestlers in the top five at 285 pounds. Burchell beat Gaboardi for third place while Martone finished fifth with a 2-0 win over Aaron Wilcox of Cumberland, R.I.
Stone became the first Simsbury wrestler to reach a New England final since Joey Martin in 2005 when Martin won a New England title at 119 pounds. Stone is the first Simsbury medalist since Keith Fernandes (145) took third in 2015.
Granby’s Ben Kibby (170), the first Granby wrestler to compete at the New England tournament since 2006, went 3-2 in the tournament with a pin.