Fairfield Warde placed eight of its wrestlers in the top six last Saturday at Bristol Central in the CIAC Class L championship tournament, which is the qualifying standard for the State Open. But New Milford put 10 of its wrestlers there to earn enough of a scoring advantage to beat the Mustangs for the team title for the second straight year.
Warde lost to the Green Wave by 27½ points. In 2013, the margin was 2½ points.
New Milford won the 2014 title with 215½ points, followed by Warde's 188, Bristol Eastern (160½), Farmington (155½), Platt (134) and Fairfield Ludlowe (133½). The Falcons' sixth-place finish was equal to their previous high in 2008. Ludlowe moved six wrestlers into the Open.
New Milford placed four of its athletes in the weight-class finals, which helpd the Green Wave to its third title in six years, with runner-up finishes in 2009, 2010 and 2012. Warde, which won it in 2009 and 2010, also got four athletes into the finals.
The Green Wave, the SWC champion, had three wrestlers finish in third place as well. New Milford's advantage over the Mustangs in the consolation rounds -- the wrestlebacks for wrestlers who lost before reaching the finals -- was pivotal in securing the winning margin.
All weight-class finalists advanced to the championships by not losing any matches on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22. The top six finishers in each of the four class championship tournaments last Saturday advanced to the State Open Friday and Saturday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.
"The key is (reaching) the semifinals and the wrestlebacks," said New Milford coach Chris Piel, whose team was rated second in the state. "It takes a big man who can accept a loss and wrestle his way back. It takes heart and maturity, and I'm proud to say my guys have got it. We're going to make a run at the Opens."
Sending eight to the State Open did not disappoint Warde coach Jason Shaughnessy.
"It was a well-rounded, good day for us," he said. "We beat Bristol Eastern, and they were ranked ahead of us coming into this tournament."
New Milford junior Kyle Lindner, the No. 1 seed, defeated Warde freshman Tim Kane, 11-7, at 113 pounds with a strong third period.
"I let him score too much in the first period," Lindner said. "To win the Open, I'm going to have to wrestle better than that."
Lindner improved to 38-2 on the season but remained undefeated against wrestlers from the state. Kane, the second seed, will bring a 32-2 record into the Open.
The rivals placed wrestlers in the 126 final as well, and the Mustangs' Dan Ebert evened the head-to-head, Green Wave-Mustangs matchup with a 6-4 victory over Niko Stefanatos. "
"It got a little hairy in the first period," Shaughnessy said. "He wrestled out of a scramble."
Ebert (35-1), the 120-pound runner-up last year, said: "I got myself into positions I wanted to be in."
Halim Bourjeli placed third for New Milford at 106 pounds, Charles Schultz was third at 120 pounds and Zachary Arnold won bronze at 138.
Warde senior Ahmed Hourani improved to 37-0 on the season, and 99-5 in his career, by pinning Bristol Eastern's Kyle Porter in 29 seconds at 285 pounds.
"I've been practicing harder and been running," said Hourani, whose goals are to win the State Open, where he was runner-up in 2013, and the New England Championships. "I've wrestled him once, and I knew I wanted to start taking it to him."
The next final was won by Ludlowe junior George Wales, who was fourth last year at 106 pounds. He defeated Ryan Pantalena, of Maloney, 11-8, and improved to 34-4 in 2013-14.
"The first time they wrestled, Pantalena dominated him with three takedowns," Ludlowe coach Nick Garoffolo said. "He stopped his best move, a double-leg takedown, this time and he was able to take him (Pantalena) down. That was the difference."
Platt senior Marlon Argueta (33-2) beat top-seeded Ludlowe senior Ben Batulanon 4-3 for the championships at 120. Batulanon's record dropped to 37-4 this winter. That result moved Platt into fifth place in the team standings ahead of the Falcons where each team stayed.
Warde junior Dylan Bender (35-1), the top seed, repeated as runner-up at 138 pounds, losing the final to Hand's Ashton Gyenizs 8-4. Aaron Beinstein (30-12) lost the consolation final to place fourth at 132 pounds, as did Anthony Rotz (30-10) at 152 and Colin Ventura (28-10) at 160. Jack Price (31-9), of the Mustangs, placed sixth at 106 pounds.
For Ludlowe, Eric Kirchgasser won the consolation finals to place third at 113 pounds. He is bringing a 34-6 record into the Open. Marcus Sherrod (34-7) finished fourth at 126 pounds. Bobby Clark (34-9) placed fifth at 132 pounds and Chase Lind (40-5) was fifth in the 145-pound weight class.
1. New Milford 215.5; 2. Fairfield Warde 188; 3. Bristol Eastern 160.5; 4. Farmington 155.5; 5. Platt 134; 6. Fairfield Ludlowe 133.5; 7. Middletown 125; 8. Hand 108.5; 9. South Windsor 97; 10. Newington 94.5; 11. Maloney 89; 12. Hall 87; 13. Bristol Central 85; 14. Masuk 64; 14. Windsor 64; 16. Pomperaug 54; 17. E.O. Smith 50.5; 18. Bunnell 46; 19. Fitch 44; 20. Wilton 28; 21. Harding 26; 22. Norwalk 24; 23. Darien 20.5; 24. Wethersfield 18; 25. RHAM 16; 26. Platt Tech/Notre Dame-West Haven 4; 27. New Canaan 3.
106 pounds: championship--George Wales (Ludlowe) dec. Ryan Pantalena (Maloney) 11-8; 3rd--Halim Bourjeli (New Milford) maj. dec. Joseph Miano (Farmington) 17-6; 5th--Robert Hartling (E.O. Smith) pinned Jack Price (Warde) 4:58; 113: championship--Kyle Lindner (New Milford) dec. Timmy Kane (Warde) 11-7; 3rd--Eric Kirchgasser (Ludlowe) dec. Daniel Morocho (Bristol Eastern) 3-1; 5th--Nghia Nguyen (Windsor) dec. Luke Schwartz (Norwalk) 6-0; 120: championship--Marlon Argueta (Platt) dec. Benjamin Batulanon (Ludlowe) 4-3; 3rd--Charles Schultz (New Milf.) dec. Joshua Wilson (Bristol Eastern) 9-3; 5th--Drew Dahlberg (Farmington) pinned Nate Hunter (Maloney) 2:00; 126: championship--Daniel Ebert (Warde) dec. Niko Stefanatos (New Milford) 6-4; 3rd--Michael Ross (Bunnell) dec. Marcus Sherrod (Ludlowe) 2-1; 5th--Robert Petry (Hall) won by forfeit over Mathew Pangle (Pomperaug); 132: championship--Conor Caffrey (South Windsor) maj. dec. Bryan Rojas (New Milf.) 11-0; 3rd--Jordan Baker (Middletown) dec. Aaron Beinstein (Warde) 3-2; 5th--Robert Clark (Ludlowe) dec. Tyler Burrow (Bristol Central) 5-1; 138: championship--Ashton Gyenizs (Hand) dec. Dylan Bender (Warde) 8-4; 3rd--Zachary Arnold (New Milford) pinned Zachary Thompson (Bristol Eastern) 2:41; 5th--Nathan Roy (Middletown) dec. Brian Goncalves (Newington) 8-5; 145: championship--Ryan Rigney (Farmington) dec. Brett Leonard (New Milf.) 7-6; 3rd--Youssef Saez (Platt) dec. Brendan Zotti (Newington) 9-2; 5th--Chase Lind (Ludlowe) dec. Owen Gottlick (Hand) 6-1; 152: championship--Max Odell (South Windsor) dec. Christian Zotti (Newington) 5-3; 3rd--Jophy Nieves (Maloney) dec. Anthony Rotz (Warde) 7-2; 5th--Bernard Figuera-Velez won by forfeit over Anthony Ryan (Pomperaug); 160: championship--Harry Pacheco (Farmington) dec. Benjamin Onofrio (Hand) 2-1; 3rd--Otton Velez (Masuk) dec. Colin Ventura (Warde) 4-0; 5th--Billy Goff (Fitch) dec. Stefan Ceconi (New Milf.) 4-3; 170: championship--Dovydas Simanskis (Farmington) dec. Jacob Grasis (Middletown) 5-0; 3rd--Nick Koury (Windsor) dec. Bradley Marston (E.O. Smith) 7-2; 5th--Ian Gonzalez (Bristol Central) pinned James Pavelchak (Bristol Eastern) 2:29; 182: championship--Cody Carrillo (Middletown) dec. Jordan Kenyon (Fitch) 8-2; 3rd--Jacob Skalski (Platt) maj. dec. Douglas Katz (Masuk) 10-1; fifth: Stephen Goodrich (Bristol Eastern) pinned Turner Ellis (New Milf.) 1:12; 195: championship--Ogadi Ikani (Hall) dec. Salvatore Longo (Masuk) 9-8; 3rd--Dimitri Smith (Maloney) dec. Robert Crespo (Windsor) 4-3; 5th--Jordan Baggiero (Platt) pinned Justin Dwyer (Hand) 4:38; 220: championship--Cole Souza (Hall) dec. John Bernardo (Platt) 4-2; 3rd--Jamar Jones (Middletown) dec. Jacob Pelletier (Bristol Eastern) 1-0; 5th--Thomas McIlveen (New Milf.) pinned Cody Mcquarrie (Bristol Central) 1:32; 285: championship--Ahmed Hourani (Warde) pinned Kyle Porter (Bristol Eastern) 30 seconds; 3rd--Joseph Fraccaroli (Wilton) pinned Vincent Stevens (Farmington) 4:34; 5th--Andres Del Valle (Newington) won by forfeit over Keith Benjamin (Windsor).