AVON – The Avon High wrestling team could be peaking a bit too early.
Two of the most important tournaments of the season are approaching. The Falcons host the NCCC Tournament championships on Saturday and the following week, Avon will be competing at the CIAC Class M state tournament.
But if the Falcons are peaking a little early, they picked a good week for it. Avon extended its school-record winning streak of 50 consecutive NCCC matches with a strong 45-29 victory over Canton last week.
The victory puts Avon in the driver’s seat to capture their seventh straight NCCC championship. Teams earn a point for every team they beat in the dual meet portion of the schedule and a half point for each team they beat at the NCCC Tournament.
Canton, which won seven NCCC matches in one season for the first time, had hoped to get past Avon for its first victory over the Falcons since 2002. But the Warriors gave up 18 points due to three forfeits and Avon won six of the remaining 11 matches.
“We had to win the close ones and we did,” Avon coach John McLaughlin said. “The kids stepped up and that was nice to see.”
This isn’t a veteran team at Avon. There are some seniors in the starting lineup but most don’t have years of experience. Six of Avon’s 14 starters were sophomore or freshmen.
“They were pumped to wrestle,” McLaughlin said. “They know the history. They don’t want to be the senior classes to (lose a NCCC match). It’s a blessing and a curse (the streak).”
Avon (14-8, 7-0 NCCC) hasn’t lost a league match since the 2007 season. They got off to a good start against Canton with sophomores Jack St. Onge (138) and Jamie McNeill (145) picking up pins. With a forfeit at 132 pounds, Avon had a quick 18-0 lead.
Senior Adam Heimy (152) got a two-point takedown with 20 seconds left in regulation to extend his lead and outlast freshman Jake Allmendinger, 5-2 and extend Avon’s lead to 21-0 lead.
But Canton (14-13, 7-1 NCCC) has been solid in the upper weights. The Warriors won the next five weight classes with four pins and a technical fall to take a 29-21 lead.
“It was a classic Avon vs. Canton match. Both sides came out ready to brawl,” Canton coach Josh Kaplan said. “Our kids wrestled hard and our workhorses won with pins.”
Canton senior Patrick Lawler (160) beat freshman Blake Edwards by technical fall, 16-1. Junior Dylan Houle (185) won by pin in 3:01, senior Devin Glasson (195) won by pin in 4:50 and Skylar Lang (220) pinned Avon’s Nick Zacchio in 2:54.
Zacchio hadn’t wrestled in nearly three weeks due to an injured ankle. But he gave McLaughlin an experienced wrestled in that spot. Kaplan had to send out Lang to face Zacchio instead of a younger wrestler that could have lost. That prevented Kaplan from moving Lang up to 275 pounds where he could have beaten Gino Bonalumi.
Bonalumi picked up a forfeit victory to put Avon back in front, 33-29.
At 106 pounds, Avon sophomore Anthony Tripodi won in less than a minute and at 113, Avon freshman Peter Oh prevailed in a battle of two freshmen with a pin in less than a minute to clinch the match.
The two teams will meet again in Saturday’s NCCC Tournament. With its strength in the upper weight classes, Canton could make a run at the NCCC Tournament crown. But they will need wrestlers to pick up victories in the consolation portion of the tournament. And Avon will have an advantage with wrestlers in all 14 weight classes.
Over the weekend, Avon finished sixth at the Centaur Invitational at Woodstock Academy, just a half point behind Windsor. Puck Quijano (120) and Johnny Oh (126) each finished tied for third place. Wrestlers in Connecticut are limited to five matches in one day.
Kurt Ollestead (195) lost in the final to Killingly’s Conner Lemley by pin (3:46). Bonalumi (285) won his weight class with an injury default over Dylan Fusco of Plainville. Zacchio took third at 220 pounds with a pin of Montville’s Augustine Cornish in 2:24.
On Saturday, Canton took a step up in competition and forfeits didn’t help in losses to No. 4 Bristol Eastern, 57-21, Newington, 48-27, and New Haven, 39-36. The Warriors lost to East Lyme on criteria, 34-33.
Against New Haven, Canton gave up 18 points in forfeits and picked up 12 from the opposition. Canton had four pins from Houle, Lang, Lawler and Trey VandeBogart. New Haven’s Jervaughn Brodie (182) came up with a huge 7-6 win over Carey that helped turn the tide.
Avon 45, Canton 29
132: Nick Briere (A) forfeit; 138: Jack. St. Onge (A) pin Joey Joslin, 4:55; 145: Jamie McNeill (A) pin Noah Korner, 0:25; 152: Adam Heimy (A) dec. Jake Allmendinger, 5-2; 160: Patrick Lawler (C) tech fall Blake Edwards, 16-1; 170: Dylan Houle (C) pin David Hart, 0:54; 182: Dakota Carey (C) pin Zach Usich, 3:01; 195: Devin Glasson (C) pin Kurt Ollstead, 4:50; 220: Skylar Lang (C) pin Nick Zacchio, 2:54; 285: Gino Bonalumi (A) forfeit; 106: Anthony Tripodi (A) pin Trey VandeBogart, 0:57; 113: Peter Ohi (A) pin Hayden DiMaio, 0:24; 120: Puck Quijano (A) dec. Brian Barger, 7-0; 126: Johnny Oh (A) forfeit
Records: Avon 14-8, 7-0 NCCC: Canton 14-9, 7-1 NCCC