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Simsbury freshman Max Konopka wins New England title

Simsbury freshman Max Konopka won the New England championship at 190 pounds on Saturday in Providence, R.I.

PROVIDENCE, R.I., March 2, 2024 – Some athletes have clear goals when they begin their scholastic careers. Simsbury freshman Max Konopka is one of those athletes.

His goals were not minimal, which isn’t surprising since Konopka won a USA Wrestling U15 national championship in wrestling in April 2023 and earned a spot in the U15 national team.

According to Simsbury head coach T.J. Silva, Konopka’s goal was a New England championship. “This was one of his goals before he stepped on the mat for Simsbury High School,” Silva said.

Konopka became the third Simsbury wrestler to win a New England championship and the first since 2005 with his pin of Portsmouth’s Elijah Josey, a three-time New Hampshire champion, in 3:17 in the finals at 190 pounds.

Konopka (45-1) had two pins and a technical fall in the tournament. He gave up just six points – five in a tough 7-5 victory over Rhode Island’s Spencer Fine of Bishop Hendricken in the quarterfinals.

Konopka was anticipating a match in the finals against Fine, who finished second here a year ago. But Fine was surprisingly pinned in the finals at the Rhode Island championships and finished second.

That set up a battle in the quarterfinals. Fine got the first takedown with 37 seconds left in the first period but Konopka escaped 10 seconds later to cut the lead to one, 2-1. After a Konopka reversal and Fine escape, it was 3-3 after two periods.

Starting on bottom, Fine took a 5-3 lead with a reversal with 1:42 left in the match but Konopka tied it with 1:19 remaining with a reversal of his own. He got a two-point near fall on an attempted cradle with 34 seconds left for a 7-5 lead.

“I have to beat everyone here. Why not beat him in the quarters. That was the toughest match I have wrestled all year,” Konopka said.

Konopka was sick all week and practiced just once. He weighed in at 179 pounds, Silva said. “We drew (our presumed) finals (opponent) in the quarters and that is how we opened (Saturday) morning. A tough 7-5 win and then, we kept doing what we’ve been doing all year, dominating.”

Konopka won his semifinal with a pin in 5:56 over Maine champion Ben Ronca.

“He has really set the tone for what we can accomplish over the next four years and he is a special kid,” Silva said. The last Simsbury wrestler to win an New England championship was Joey Martin in 2005.

Konopka is just the fifth wrestler from the Farmington Valley to win a New England championship.

New England champions

Wrestler, Weight School Year
Pete Pereira, 171 Simsbury 1990
Shaun Gethin, 119 Avon 1997
Kacy O’Connor, 140 Canton 1999
Joey Martin, 119 Simsbury 2005
Max Konopka, 190 Simsbury 2024


The win capped off an impressive freshman campaign for Konopka. He was the first Simsbury wrestler since 2003 to win a State Open championship and won a Class L title too.

He won the George Bossi Lowell Holiday Invitational and the Fairfield Warde Invitational, taking home the Outstanding Wrestler award in both events. He also finished first at the Frank Chaves Invitational in Simsbury.

At the Bossi Lowell Holiday event, he eliminated the three top seeds, going 6-0 with five pins. He gave up just one point in six matches.

Konopka beat No. 2 seed Elijah Josey of Portsmouth, N.H. in the quarterfinals by pin in 2:57 before pinning No. 3 seed Patrick O’Connor of Londonderry, N.H., in the semifinals in 3:31. In the final, Konopka beat top seed Michael Toppin of Gloucester, Mass., 4-1.

Konopka is the third Simsbury wrestler to win a Bossi championship joining John Mairano (145) in 2021 and Ty Finn (132) in 2019.

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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