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Three Canton wrestlers earn Class S medals and trip to State Open

Canton’s Matt Webb keeps a tight grip on Griswold’s Tyler Arsenault in Saturday’s Class S tournament in Windham. Webb won to finish fifth at 106 pounds.

WINDHAM, Feb. 17 – The Canton High wrestling team had three wrestlers earn medals at Saturday’s Class S championships at Windham High.

Junior Braydon Fluckiger (195) finished fourth, freshman Matt Webb (106) took fifth while Canton’s Brian Connolly (132) was sixth. All three qualified for the upcoming State Open championships in New Haven at the Floyd Little Athletic Center at Hillhouse. The top six wrestlers in each of the 14 weight classes qualify for the Open.

The Warriors finished 14th in Class S. With eight medalists, Windham won the Class S tournament for the fifth time in the last six years. Gilbert was second for the first time since 1996 with eight medalists and one champion.

“It’s been a mixed bag,” Canton coach Josh Bristol said. “We lost some matches I really thought we should get but we had kids wrestle well. We did get a few that we were favored to win.”

“It’s the toughest tournament we wrestle in all year,” he said. “We have a good group of kids. I know they’re going out and wrestling their best.”

Canton’s Braydon Fluckiger puts Edwin Morales of Goodwin Tech on his back in Saturday’s Class S tournament.

Fluckiger (31-4) was the No. 1 seed at 195 pounds and easily won his first two matches. But he ran into Griswold’s Johnny Franco in the semifinals. Franco got a two-point takedown and three-point nearfall in the first period to take a 5-0 lead and command of the bout. Franco prevailed, 8-2.

After getting his third win of the tournament and third pin in the consolation semifinals, Fluckiger fell to Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech’s Joseph Reihl by pin in 4:12 to finish fourth.

Webb (32-6) was the No. 2 seed at 106 and opened the tournament with a 12 second pin but stumbled in a 8-4 quarterfinal loss to Portland’s Josue Bobe. Webb rallied with a pair of victories in the consolation round, pinning Montville’s Derick Debbis in 1:35 and dominating Oxford’s Thomas Cappa, 12-2.

After a 6-0 loss to Haddam-Killingworth’s Cameron Hines in the consolation semifinals, Webb came back strong and pinned Griswold’s Tyler Arsenault in 1:49 to finish fifth. Webb was 4-2 in the tournament.

Canton’s Brian Connolly battles Gilbert’s Nick Barber in Saturday’s Class S tournament in Windham. Connolly prevailed, 5-4 in double OT.

Connolly (31-11) was the fourth seed at 132 but was upset by Derby’s Jake Ferguson, 3-2 in the second round. But Connolly rallied with three straight wins in the consolation round including a 5-4 win in double overtime over Gilbert’s Nicholas Barber to qualify for a medal and a trip to the State Open.

Connolly lost two additional bouts to finish sixth including a 7-6 loss to Griswold’s Vashil Patel. Connolly tied the match at 6-6 with a reversal with 32 seconds remaining but Patel escaped eight seconds later to take a one-point lead.

Junior James Pelehach (182) went 2-2 for the Warriors while Austin Kilduff (170), John Alicea (152), Brendan Kelly (120) and Jack Freedenberg (113) each won at least one match.

Canton finished the season with a dual meet record of 12-9 and 5-1 in the NCCC, second behind Granby.

Gilbert’s Nick Barber tries to grab Canton’s Brian Connolly around the neck in Saturday’s Class S wrestling tournament.

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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