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Greenwich wrestling places fourth at Shelton Invitational

Updated 11:17 pm, Saturday, December 15, 2012
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SHELTON -- With a young team short on experience, Greenwich High School wrestling coach George Albano knows his team must receive leadership from its seniors each meet.

Seniors Grant Cucchissi and Mark Chien certainly led the Cardinals at Saturday's Shelton Invitational.

Cucchissi and Chien each won titles in their respective weight class for Greenwich, which placed fourth in the tournament with a team score of 131.

Receiving eye-opening performances throughout its lineup, Westhill was this year's Shelton Invitational winner, totaling an impressive team score of 239.5 points. Shelton was the runner-up (165), followed by Amity (154) and Masuk (134).

"The last two years, this tournament has shown us where we stand early in the season," Greenwich coach George Albano said. "Today showed that we're a young team that lacks experience we hope to gain throughout the year. For some of our kids, it was the first time they wrestled in a high school tournament."

Cucchissi, went 4-0 on the day in the 182-pound division, putting each opponents shoulders to the mat. He pinned Mac Thompson of Shelton in the finals in 4:21.

"I wrestled him last year in this tournament and beat him, but I still knew it was going to be a tough match," Cucchissi said. "He got me on my back a couple of times, but I hit some nice switches, which turned the match around for me. It's my first tournament win, so it's a pretty awesome start to the season."

Said Albano: "Cucchissi displayed toughness and determination throughout the tournament. He leads by example. I think this will set the tone of the season for him."

Chien needed just 57 seconds to pin Amity's Jake Cala in his 113-pound final.

"It feels good, I've been working really hard in practice," Chien said. "I've been preaching to the younger guys on the team that you can get through anything if you wrestle tough."

Injured from January until the end of the season a year ago, Chien is determined to enjoy a full season on the squad this winter.

"I definitely hope to stay healthy and I'm very excited for the season," Chien said. "Sitting out last year watching the team late in the season was frustrating."

Westhill senior 152-pounder Nick Jimenez was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler. Jimenez the No. 1 seed in his bracket, went 4-0 on the day winning three of his matches by pinfall. He pinned Geronimo Valin of Weston in the finals in 3 minutes, 3 seconds, getting him on his back with a half nelson.

"I just tried to take what he gave me and focused on wrestling smart," Jimenez said.

"I'm really pleased with the way I wrestled today and I'm proud of my teammates."

Vikings freshman Matt Conte made his first appearance at the Shelton Invitational -- or any high school tourney for that matter -- one to remember. Conte pinned Greenwich's Alex Margeotes in 5:06 in the 106-pound title match.

"It was a great debut for my high school wrestling career," Conte said. "I'll always remember this. I just went out there and tried to do my best and my best got me the title."

Senior Gavin White claimed the 126-pound title for the Vikings, taking a 3-1 decision from Jesse Cala of Amity in the finals.

"I thought that was one of the matches of the day," Conte said.

"That kid was strong and a very good wrestler. I knew I had to fight hard from the start and dig it out."

Junior Jeff Glover followed with a championship win in the 132-pound class for Westhill, pinning Amity's Michael Cala in 1:28. Chris Mazur (138), Martin Choyban (160), Monir Koumal (170), Mike Vigliotti (220) and Ronnie Griggs (285) each lost to the finals of their respective weight classes for Westhill.

"We came out sharp right from the beginning," Westhill coach Tom Pereira said.

"It was a total team effort. Putting nine guys in the finals of this competitive tournament was a good way for us to start the season," he added.

Erick Tack (fifth place, 152), Ben Jones (fourth place, 132), Jack Benenson (sixth place, 120), and Justin Montier (fifth place, 170) also paced the Cards.

"I'm very proud of our team," said GHS senior Mike Gestal, who along with Chien, serves as one of the team's captains.

"We had a lot of pins and a lot of third-period wins, which shows we're a tough team."

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