AVON, January 8 – A year ago, the Avon High wrestling team had a season to remember. The Falcons went undefeated with a 22-0 record and won their first championship as members of the Central Connecticut Conference, taking the CCC North title.
Twelve months later, the Falcons are in a different place. Eleven seniors have graduated but there are still some talented wrestlers on the mat for Avon.
“We’re a young team,” long-time coach John McLaughlin said. “I think we are better than I thought we would be. We have a bunch of young, scrappy kids who are doing alright. Simsbury is obviously one of the better teams in the state. But I am really happy on where we are. I am impressed with the young kids who are stepping up.”
Avon is 4-4 after the first three weeks of the season with victories over Joel Barlow, Fitch, Canton and Conard. All four losses have come to teams that have been ranked at some point in Connecticut Wrestling Online’s top 10 poll.
No. 3 Simsbury took care of business on Wednesday night with eight pins in a dominating 60-16 victory over Avon. The Falcons lost to No. 4 Bristol Eastern in the season opener and No. 10 Bristol Central a few days after Christmas, 45-28. Avon put 34 points on the board in a loss to Manchester, who was ranked No. 10 in the first top 10 poll of the season.
Avon grabbed an early lead against Simsbury, winning the first two matches. Freshman Jonah Weber (120), an experienced wrestler with plenty of youth wrestling experience, won with a pin while Zach Coleman (126) outdueled Simsbury’s Matt Putnam, 13-7 to give Avon a 9-0 lead.
Simsbury (3-0) won 10 of the next 12 matches with eight pins. “We came out a little slow,” Simsbury’s T.J. Silva. “Most guys aren’t at the weights they will be at the end of the season and we still have three (weight classes) that we need to figure out in the (wrestling) room.
“We did what we had to do,” he said. “Wednesday night are a little tough when you face a lot of high level competition.”
In the past two weekends, Simsbury was at the George Bossi Lowell Invitational in Lowell, Mass., on Dec. 27-28 and the Sam Cali Invitational in West Orange, New Jersey on Jan. 3-4 with 14-time New Jersey state champion Camden Catholic winning the tournament.
Simsbury’s Ty Finn won at the Sam Cali Invitational at 132 pounds while Saul Pera (145) finished fourth and D’Sean Martin (285) finished fifth.
In Lowell, Finn won at 132 pounds with Pera (145) and John Mairano (138) each finishing fifth and All-State linebacker Tommy Guilfoyle (220) finishing seventh. The Trojans finished eighth as a team and were the No. 2 Connecticut team in the field.
“Those two tournaments are on the scale of the (State) Open and New England (championships),” Silva said. “Sometimes when you wrestle competition like that, it’s hard to come back and get up for a Wednesday night match.”
Trailing 9-0, Simsbury got down to business. Alex Kasson (132), Finn (138), Mairano (145), Pera (152), Noah Pryzbeck (160), Carter Sirois (170) and Tyler Coiro (182) each won by pin and each in the first period.
Avon’s Chris Gens, a defending Class M champion, stopped the Simsbury run with a hard-fought 8-0 decision over Guilfoyle. Williams (285) got a pin for Simsbury before Avon’s Aidan Baghdassarian (106) outlasted Cael Finn for a 3-2 victory. A takedown with 45 seconds left in the third period gave Baghdassarian a 3-1 lead.
Ryan Finn (113) closed it out for Simsbury with a pin.
Gens is undefeated for the Falcons with a 13-0 record while Jared Butler is 10-3 at 145 pounds. He was injured and couldn’t wrestle on Wednesday night. Weber, a long-time youth wrestler, brings plenty of experience onto the mat while Coleman, who excelled at the junior varsity level a year ago, is taking advantage of his chance on the varsity.
Avon returns to the mat this weekend at the Arthur Powers Duals in Berlin. Simsbury will continue with a tough, challenging schedule designed to toughen up the Trojans so they can make a run at the Class L championship, the State Open and New England championships.
This weekend, Simsbury will be in Cumberland, Rhode Island where they expect to face No. 4 Bristol Eastern, long-time New Hampshire and New England contender Timberland Regional from Plaistow, New Hampshire and host Cumberland.
In February, Simsbury will be able to challenge No. 1 Danbury on the mat when they travel to Danbury for a quad meet with the Hatters, Timberlane and Nashoba Valley Tech from Massachusetts.
Simsbury 60, Avon 16
120: Jonah Weber (A) pin Tanner Brown, 1:41; 126: Zach Coleman (A) dec. Matt Putnam, 13-7; 132: Alex Kasson (S) pin Paul Netland, 1:13; 138: Ty Finn (S) pin Cameron Casey, 1:30; 145: John Mairano (S) pin Dylan Carr, 1:49; 152: Saul Pera (S) pin Chris Bourquin, 1:21; 160: Noah Pryzbek (S) pin Eli Johnson, 1:49; 170: Carter Sirois (S) pin Chris Pascerelli, 1:05; 182: Tyler Coiro (S) pin Ethan Volpe, 0:43; 195: Brett Araniti (S) forfeit; 220: Chris Gens (A) dec. Tommy Guilfoyle, 8-0; 285: D’Sean Williams (S) pin Jack Leavens, 3:15; 106: Aidan Baghdassarian (A) dec. Cael Finn, 3-2; 113: Ryan Finn (S) pin Ivan Fagin, 3:27
Record: Simsbury 3-0, Avon 4-4