Fairfield Warde Wrestlers end dream season with sixth-place finish at State Open
Published 1:02 am, Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The Fairfield Warde wrestling team finished its historic season with a remarkable ending, placing sixth at the State Open wrestling championships on Saturday and Sunday at the State Open meet. The Mustangs finished with 54.5 points and had two members of their team, Ian McAllister and Evan Fraser, qualify for the New England regional championships.
The Mustangs also had a pair of freshmen, Pharoh Eaton and Tom Anania, placed in the top-six in their first trips to the Open. Both thought that the experience of going to the highest level of state competition was a valuable experience for them.
"It was really good," Anania said. "I was coming in as a real underdog [against Ridgefield's Travis Tiger], but I reversed him and pinned him."
Eaton also beat the FCIAC 103-pound champion, Johnny D'Elia in the quarterfinals at the Open to clinch a spot in the top-six.
"I beat a kid I wanted to beat off the bat," Eaton said. "I was happy with the way I wrestled."
Warde's other two open qualifiers, Bobby Rigilano and Mike Sullivan, were hampered by injuries. Rigilano finished 10th at 145-pounds, but was nursing a shoulder injury. Sullivan was dealing with torn cartilage in his knee and finished in 10th place as well at 160.
"We had some upperclassmen that were banged up at the end of the season," Warde Head Coach Jason Shaughnessy said. "Bobby hurt his shoulder at the L's...and [Sullivan] just wasn't able to wrestle the way he was capable of."
For the Mustangs team it was a great ending to a dream season. Warde had its sights set on the FCIAC title, and was able to unseat 23-time defending champion Danbury. The Mustangs also repeated as Class L champions, as Warde took the state title for the third time in five years.
"They've been taught and told that beating Danbury is the goal," Shaughnessy said.
McAllister qualified for the New Englands a year after being forced to exit the Open a year ago due to sickness. For the senior captain, this is the perfect cap to an already wonderful year.
"I think I wrestled a great tournament," McAllister said of his State Open performance. "I'm glad to make it to New Englands and hopefully will find some success there."
Fraser failed to make weight at the Opens in 112 in 2009, but made weight this year at 125. Fraser finished fourth, to reach the regional championships.
"I think we did good the whole season," Fraser said.
For the members of this squad, and those finishers, the 2010 year was a valuable experience, and one that none will soon forget.
"It was really good to have such a successful first year," Anania said.
"Being a senior and captain and a leader and being the team that beat Danbury means a lot," McAllister said. "We're the first Warde wrestling team to win FCIAC and state and that's a huge accomplishment.
"We've got an excellent coaching staff and a terrific work ethic and in years to come, I think this program will be successful."