After finishing last season with a 21-2 regular season record, a second place finish in the Class L tournament and a third place showing in the New England Regionals, Fairfield Warde wrestling coach Jason Shaughnessy can’t expect to have just as strong as season this winter, can he?
Or can he.
Led by returners in seven weight classes, including the undefeated and New England champion at 138 pounds, Charlie Kane, and his brother the New England third place finisher at 126 pounds, Tim Kane, the Mustangs can boast of a veteran lineup that will not only contend for the FCIAC title but will be among the state’s elite.
“We have a strong team and a very challenging schedule,” Shaughnessy wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “We need to continue to progress, stay healthy and peak at the right time of the season.”
Charlie Kane went 48-0 last season as a junior, winning the FCIAC, the Class L, the State Open and the New England crowns. Brother Tim, also won the FCIAC, the Class L and the State Open titles before losing his only match in the New England Regional finals.
Along with the Kane brothers, seniors Jack Price (36-11 last season), who placed fourth in the FCIAC’s and fifth in the Class L meet, returns at 120 pounds. Alex Lobsenz (16-5), the defending FCIAC champ, will wrestle at 195 pounds, Jon Ocana (33-11), who placed third in the FCIAC’s and fourth in the Class L, is back at 220 pounds, while sophomores Alex Steele (36-10), who placed fourth in both the FCIAC and Class L meet, will wrestle at 113 pounds. Izaake Zuckerman (15-6) will wrestle at 126 pounds.
Charlie Kane and Price will be the team captains.
“We have a fairly young squad but we have good numbers,” Shaughnessy said.
Warde has finished second in the Class L meet that last three seasons.
The Falcons finished 15-5 last season and return several veterans from that squad that should give head coach Nick Graffito a solid core to build around, led by the defending Class L and FCIAC champion at 152 pounds, Chase Lind.
Others returning include, Marcus Sherrod, Bobby Clark (fourth, Class L, 138 pounds), Austin Sherman (second in the FCIAC meet at 113 pounds), Lee Stenild-Johnson (second in the FCIAC and third in the Class L, 170 pounds), Billy Stapleton (fifth in the FCIAC meet and sixth in the Class L, heavyweight) and Zach Taylor all return.
“This is the largest senior class in a while and we have several experienced wrestlers,” said Garoffolo in his prospectus to the Citizen. “We have eight returning FCIAC place winners and six that placed in the state tournament. This will be the foundation of the team.”
Last season, Ludlowe finished fourth as team in both the FCIAC and Class L tournaments.
“We should have a very good tournament again team this year,” Garaffolo said. “We have six very experienced wrestlers and six other varsity wrestlers returning. We will only have two weight classes with new wrestlers starting. We will have to bring the newcomers up to speed quickly.”
The Jesuits finished last season with a 13-5 regular season record, led by returning wrestlers (and quad captains) Kasim Khan, Orlando Sanchez (second in the SCC meet at 126 pounds), Kevin Zentner (fourth in the SCC meet at 113 pounds) and Jack Boskin (second in the SCC c meet at 160 pounds). Two other returners for head coach Ron Chivinski include Matt Jakab and Patrick Grasso (fourth in the SCC meet at 182 pounds).
“Our existing leadership is solid,” said Chivinski in his prospectus to the Citizen. “There is a tight nucleus of dedicated wrestlers who help set the daily tone in practice. The key to our success will be how well our wrestlers fill into existing weight classes. We may need to bump some guys around in dual meet matches to be successful.
Prep finished sixth in the SCC tournament meet last season and placed 19th in the Class LL meet.
“Believing in yourself is a very important trait,” said Chivinski. “My expectation is that our wrestlers aim their sights much higher for this year’s Class LL tournament.”
Last season was the first season of varsity wrestling for the Lancers and despite winning just one dual meet match, ND-Fairfield did produce a state champion as Hakim Fleming won the Class S heavyweight title (along with winning the SWC heavyweight crown) and placing fourth in the State Open meet.
“We are looking forward to competing in the SWC and state tournaments and making this program into a contender,” wrote head coach Steve Fulco in his prospectus to the Citizen. “Staying healthy, staying motivated and making everyday count will contribute toward a successful season.”
Along with Fleming, Fulco returns Bill Kelly -- who was third in the Class S meet at 195 pounds and Jacob Castillo, who was fourth in the SWC meet at 113 pounds.
“Castillo was one match away from placing in the states as a sophomore,” Fulco said. “He won some big matches for us and we will rely on him to be consistent this season. Hakim and Bill were our most consistent wrestlers last year and we expect them to have great seasons.”
In addition, Matt Merced, Kendrick Boliere, Wesley DaSilva and Clyde Auba return. Last season, the Lancers finished 11th as a team in the Class S tournament and three of the seven wrestlers entered finished in the top three.
“We have the depth and ability this season to fill out a full lineup,” Fulco said. “We have experience coming back and those returners have worked tremendously hard in the off-season to be the best they can be. We have to stay healthy and hungry.”