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With 11 wrestlers in finals, Canton wins NCCC Tournament to clinch league title

Canton won the NCCC Tournament for the third consecutive year to clinch their first league championship since 2002. (Photo courtesy Josh Bristol)

GRANBY, February 9 – The Canton High wrestling team put 11 wrestlers into the finals at the North Central Connecticut Conference tournament Saturday and won the tournament for the third consecutive season as the Warriors clinched their first league championship since 2002 with the win.

Canton had two individual champions and had all 14 wrestlers finish in the top four of their respective weight classes. The Warriors beat Suffield/Windsor Locks, 200½ to 177.

The Warriors (20-3, 7-0 NCCC) had celebrated winning a league championship after beating Granby a week ago in a dual meet to complete an undefeated regular season in the NCCC. For the past two seasons, the criteria for winning a league championship in wrestling had been dual meets.

But earlier this week, it came to light that the league had modified its criteria for deciding a league champion in wrestling – a point system based on a team’s performance in dual meets and the league tournament.

Teams earn a point for each dual meet win and a ½ point for every team they beat at the NCCC Tournament. While Canton was still in a very strong position to claim the pennant, they had to once again go prove it on the mat.

The Warriors went 11-3 in the semifinal round to take control of the tournament and Gabe Deiulis added a few more points into Canton’s column before the finals began by winning his consolation final at 132 pounds.

“It reinforced what I’ve about this team all season,” Canton coach Josh Bristol said. “We rely on 14 kids who know how to wrestle and love it.

“We don’t worry about State Open placewinners (wrestlers who finish in the top six at the Open) or having superstars as much as we focus on making everyone on our team masters the fundamentals and loves the sport,” he said.

Canton’s Brian Connolly, top, won his second NCCC championship in three years on Saturday. (Photo courtesy Bill Brewster)

Freshman Ethan Titus (106) won his first NCCC championship with an 8-1 win over Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Daniel Taggert.

At 132 pounds, Canton senior Brian Connolly won his second NCCC title in three years with a 13-4 win over Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Joseph Nieroda. Connolly also won a NCCC title as a sophomore at 120.

Matt Webb (113), Ryker Bahre (120), Jack Freedenberg (126), Donovan Mackin (145), Nate Biega (160), Austin Kilduff (170), James Pelehach (182), Braydon Fluckiger (195) and Chris Dinneen (220) each lost in the finals.

Webb was looking for a second league title having won at 106 a year ago. Fluckiger was looking for his third NCCC crown after winning at 220 and 182 pounds the two previous seasons. It was the third straight finals appearance for Fluckiger.

Canton freshman Ethan Titus won his first NCCC championship at 106 pounds Saturday.

Webb lost to Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Zachary Jones, 7-1 while Bahre was pinned by Somers’ Cooper Barrett in the 120 pound final.

At 126 pounds, Freedenberg dropped a 6-1 decision to Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Ghassan Saleh. Stafford’s Addison Brazee beat Mackin at 145 pounds with a 13-2 decision.

Biega (160) was pinned by Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Hunter Adams while Kilduff (171) was pinned by Granby’s Tyler Perez. At 182, Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Miguel Gonzalez pinned Pelehach in 2:47.

Fluckiger (195) was pinned by Coventry’s John Vignone in 5:42 while Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Will Robb pinned Dinneen in 1:33.

Charlie Corso (285) finished third for Canton with Brendan Kelly (152) finishing fourth.

Canton returns to action on Friday night when they head to Windham to participate in the Class S championship meet this weekend. The meet concludes on Saturday with the top six finishers in each weight class advancing to the State Open championships.

NOTES: It’s the second time in team history that Canton has won three straight NCCC Tournament titles. Canton first achieved this milestone from 1995-97. The 200½ points is a tournament record for Canton, eclipsing the 197 points they scored in 1995.

Only Avon and Canton have won at least three consecutive NCCC Tournament titles. Avon had winning streaks of six years (2008-12, 2015), three years (2004-06) and 10 years (1985-94). The tournament was snowed out in 2013 and 2014.

NCCC Tournament
At Granby
Team results – 1. Canton 200½, 2. Suffield/Windsor Locks 177, 3. Somers 105, 4. Stafford 90, 5. Granby 65, 6. Coventry 44½, 7. East Windsor 29, 8. Bolton 23, 9. Rockville 15
Individual results
106: Final — Ethan Titus (Canton) dec. Daniel Taggart (Suffield/Windsor Locks), 8-1; 3. Taylor McCormick (Somers) win by disqualification over Matthew Ginz (Granby)
113: Final — Zachary Johns (Suffield/Windsor Locks) dec. Matt Webb (Canton), 7-1; 3. Luke Plano (Suffield/WL)
120: Final — Cooper Barrett (Somers) pin Ryker Bahre (Canton), 5:59; 3. Connor Bly (Suffield/Windsor Locks) dec. Rory Triba (Stafford), 5-2
126: Final — Ghassan Saleh (Suffield/Windsor Locks) dec. Jack Freedenberg (Canton), 6-1; 3. Tanner Hammond (Somers) dec. Samuel O’Neil (Granby), 8-6
132: Final — Tristan Julian (Stafford) pin Dylan Washburn (Suffield/Windsor Locks), 3:03; 3. Gabriel Deiulis (Canton) pin Cole Nodden (Coventry), 5:43
138: Final — Brian Connolly (Canton) dec. Joseph Nieroda (Suffield/Windsor Locks), 13-4; 3. David Ives (Stafford) dec. Owen Bogli (Granby), 15-12
145: Final — Addison Brazee (Stafford) dec. Donovan Mackin (Canton), 13-2; 3. Christopher Uyar (Somers) pin K’yla Broughton (Rockville), 2:33
152: Final — Kaleb Carlson (Bolton) pin Matthew Raine (Suffield/Windsor Locks), 4:36; 3. Hayden Barrett (Somers) dec. Brendan Kelly (Canton), 13-5
160: Final –– Hunter Adams (Suffield/Windsor Locks) pin Nate Biega (Canton), 2:11; 3. Tommy Bean (Stafford)
170: Final — Tyler Perez (Granby) pin Austin Kilduff (Canton), 5:06; 3. Nate Tardif (East Windsor) pin Andre Goulet (Somers), 1:52
182: Final — Miguel Gonzalez (Suffield/Windsor Locks) pin James Pelehach (Canton), 2:47; 3. Cooper Grant (Stafford) forfeit over Julian Leon (Coventry)
195: Final — John Vignone (Coventry) pin Braydon Fluckiger Canton), 5:42; 3. Justin Donahue (East Windsor) pin Hunter Ogren (Rockville), 1:12
220: Final — Will Robb (Suffield/Windsor Locks) pin Christepher Dinneen (Canton), 1:33; 3. Q. Anwar (Coventry)
285: Final — Domonic Zuccalo (Somers) pin Devin Flagg (Granby), 5:18; 3. Charlie Corso (Canton)
Outstanding wrestler: Kaleb Carlson, Bolton (152)
Brackets and results

NCCC final standings

Team NCCC Pts Overall
xy-Canton 7-0 10½ 20-3
Suffield/WL 6-1 9 11-4
Stafford 5-2 7 7-4
Somers 4-3 6-8
Granby 3-4 5-11
Coventry 2-5 3 4-16
Rockville 2-5 2 4-16
East Windsor 0-7 ½ 0-21
x-clinched league championship
y-won league tournament
Teams earn 1 point for every dual meet win and a ½ point for every team they beat at the league championship meet

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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