WETHERSFIELD, January 23 – Four years ago, the Avon High wrestling team began competing in the Central Connecticut Conference after more than three decades in the North Central Connecticut Conference. Avon won the NCCC title in their final eight years in the league.
In their first CCC match, the Falcons beat Simsbury in the opener for the 2014-15 campaign. Switching leagues? No problem.
Well, life in the CCC wasn’t so easy. The Falcons went 10-11. The following season, Avon was 10-12 and won only one match in the CCC North.
“Four years ago, we were a young team and we got kicked around a bit,” Avon coach John McLaughlin said. “But they all came together and decided they would do the off-season work (to get ready for the season) and lifting (weights to get stronger).”
A year ago, Avon posted their first winning record since joining the CCC and went 3-2 in the CCC North.
Avon is now in position to win their first CCC title. The Falcons (18-0, 4-0 CCC North) raced out to a 21-point lead after six matches and beat Wethersfield, 45-18, Wednesday night to remain undefeated.
Wethersfield (8-5, 4-1 CCC North) could have won the title since 2007 with a victory. Now, Avon will have that chance when they host Manchester (8-8, 2-1 CCC North) on Wednesday, January 30, at 6 p.m.
“It was a well-fought match,” McLaughlin said. “There were seven matches that could have gone either way. We won five of them and they won two.”
Avon, ranked No. 10 in Connecticut Wrestling Online’s latest top 10 poll, took an immediate 12-0 lead thanks to pins from Alex Rostenberg (126 pounds) and Max Jacobs (132). Wethersfield’s Matthew Laurie cut the lead in half, 12-6, with a pin of his own but Avon extended the lead to 15-6 when Grant Corbett (138) scored five points in the third period to pull away for an 8-3 decision
Avon’s Jarid Butler (152) and Jack Coleman (160) each had pins and Avon led by 21 points, 27-6.
Wethersfield tried to rally. Alec Arnold (170) won by pin and Marcus Neves (182) outlasted Avon’s Tyler Dickensen, 4-2 in overtime.
Dickensen took a one-point lead with nine seconds left in regulation with a two-point takedown but Neves wouldn’t stop, getting a one-point escape with five seconds left to tie the match at 2-2 and force OT.
At 195 pounds, Wethersfield’s Nick Thompson made a first period takedown stand up in a 2-1 win over Avon’s Amir Johnson to cut the Falcon lead to 12 points, 27-15.
But Avon won the final five bouts of the match to secure the victory.
It started with a tough battle at 220 pounds. Trailing by one in the third period, Avon’s Chris Gens got a two-point reversal with 1:34 left in the bout to take a 4-3 lead. But Wethersfield’s Austin Harnish escaped with 1:05 remaining to tie the match at 4-4. Gens won the match, 6-4, thanks to a takedown with 36 seconds left.
Avon’s Henry Schrecengost (285) extended the Avon lead to 18 points, 36-18, with a pin in 48 seconds.
At 106, Avon’s Aidan Bagnadassarian was penalized twice in the final 30 seconds but hung on for an 8-7 victory that clinched the match for the Falcons.
Avon’s Ryan Bagnadassarian (113) got a takedown with 1.2 seconds left in regulation for a 7-5 win over Christian Rodriguez while teammate Abhi Bhadbad (120) ended the match with a 8-3 victory for Avon.
“One of our team goals was to win the conference. We haven’t done it yet but beating Wethersfield was a nice step toward that,” McLaughlin said.
It’s been different this season for the Falcons, who have won 22 dual meets in a row dating back to last February. Now, they have something to lose. “They feel the pressure but they responded very well tonight came out firing and it was a nice win,” McLaughlin said.
Avon’s 18-0 start is the best start in team history. The Falcons did run the table in 1987 going 16-0.
The team record for consecutive dual meet victories is 38 set from 1970-73.
Avon 45, Wethersfield 18
126: Alex Rostenberg (A) pin Tommy Krystopa, 3:29; 132: Max Jacobs (A) pin Cameren Corazza, 0:57; 138: Matthew Laurie (W) dec. Justin Meador, 12-6; 145: Grant Corbett (A) dec. Sean Dunn, 8-3; 152: Jarid Butler (A) pin Attie Raza, 2:48; 160: Jack Coleman (A) pin Danny Cruz, 0:40; 170: Alec Arnold (W) pin Sam Johnson, 2:34; 182: Marcus Neves (W) dec. Tyler Dickensen, 4-2, OT; 195: Nick Thompson (W) dec. Amir Johnson, 2-1; 220: Chris Gens (A) dec. Austin Harnish, 6-4; 285: Henry Schrecengost (A) pin Jacob Buser, 0:48; 106: Aidan Bagnadassarian (A) dec. Jake Laurie, 8-7; 113: Ryan Bagnadassarian (A) dec. Christian Rodriguez, 7-5; 120: Abhi Bhabad (A) dec. Bryce Arnold, 8-3
Records: Avon 18-0, 4-0 CCC North; Wethersfield 8-5, 4-1 CCC North