Warde's Charlie Kane named Hearst Connecticut Media Wrestling MVP
If you would have asked Fairfield Warde wrestling coach Jason Shaughnessy to dream up a perfect scenario for the return of junior Charlie Kane this past season it would have been nearly impossible for him to top reality.
Kane returned to the mat for the Mustangs after missing all of last season after breaking the L5 vertebra in his back and never missed a beat. Kane was determined to come back stronger than ever and it showed as he capped a 48-0 season with a New England title at 138 pounds. It was the first New England title for the Warde program, which finished with an impressive 21-2 record and fourth in the final state coaches' poll.
"I set a goal before the season to win New Englands," said Kane. "I trained a lot and practiced a lot to make states and make sure I qualified for New Englands. After winning FCIACs I felt confident that nobody else in the state could beat me. I was proud to win New Englands and thankful for all the help I had training."
For his stellar efforts Kane was chosen as the Hearst Connecticut Media MVP, which is not an easy task considering the top four teams in the final coaches' poll were from the region and five among the top 10. Kane's success was also noticed by many in the state as he as named Wrestler of the Year in balloting by coaches at the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) All-State banquet.
"The great thing about Charlie is that he missed the entire school season, but he was back wrestling in the offseason and probably wrestled more matches than he would have during the school year," said Shaughnessy. "He started to train around April. He's such a hard worker. He worked hard to get a lot of matches (on his schedule)."
The results of all the training paid off throughout the regular season and became even more obvious in the postseason as he dominated opponents. He defeated Ridgefield's Kevin Side 5-1 to win his first FCIAC title -- the FCIAC tournament was cancelled due to weather during his freshman season. Kane wrapped up his second Class L title with a 6-0 win over New Milford's Bryan Rojas and then earned a 5-1 decision over Nonnewaug's Kiernan Duggan in the State Open final.
"Charlie likes to compete against high level competition," said Shaughnessy. "He doesn't get nervous in big matches. He gets more frustrated going against kids that are not competitive. He thrives on the big matches."
Kane was at his best in the New England finals in North Andover, Mass., when he defeated Ryan Monteiro (Minnechaug, Mass.) 5-2. The match was tied 1-1 late in the third when Kane took a shot to take the lead and then earned back points to seal the win.
"He's very calculated and gives up very few points," said Shaughnessy. "He was a little conservative in some matches at New Englands, but knew when to make his move. He stays at his pace."
Shaughnessy has been watching Kane since he began wrestling in the Fairfield PAL program so it was no surprise when he came in as a freshman at 126 pounds and produced a 38-2 record. After winning the Class L title his rookie season, Kane suffered a bad chest infection which limited him at the State Open where he didn't place.
"He had a great freshman season," said Shaughnessy. "He struggled in some matches at the Open because he wasn't feeling well or he definitely would have placed there."
A scary thought for the rest of the state wrestling world is not only will Charlie be back next year, but his younger brother Tim will also be back on the mats.
"It's been fun," said Charlie of having his younger brother on the team. "We push each other at practice and see who can do better. We've been wrestling since I was in third grade and he was in second."
All Tim did this past season as a sophomore was go 48-1 on his way to winning FCIAC, Class L and State Open titles. Tim finished third at New Englands.
"We will be talking about both of them a lot next year," said Shaughnessy. "I'm glad I get them back."
Charlie's next chapter begins Friday morning in Virginia Beach, Va., at the 26th Annual NHSCA National High School Wrestling Championships.
"My goal at the Nationals is to be an All-American," said Kane.