Trumbull advances six wrestlers to State Open
Wrestlers waiting their turn to take the mat during the Class LL Tournament kept looking around as one loud cheer after another filled the Trumbull High gymnasium on Saturday.
“What happened, what’s going on?,” was the question most asked by the out-of-towners.
The Trumbull High sports community was celebrating the success, as each of coach Niko Filippakis’ grapplers made a move forward.
Cross Cannone, a Class LL champion as a sophomore, advanced to the final bout at 126 pounds, where he dedicated his day with these words:
“This is for my good friend Luie Gomes, who has shown his teammates and everyone who knows him the meaning of determination.”
Gomes after three years as team manager, took the mat for his senior season battling through FCIAC competition with cerebral palsy.
His mates displayed the winning characteristics.
“It was a good day with six wrestlers advancing to the State Open,” Filippakis said, after the Eagles placed fifth in the team competition. “It wasn’t perfect for us, but there are a lot of great wrestlers in Class LL.”
Cannone took second at 126 pounds, Steve Briganti was second at 152 pounds and Connor Sollenberger was second at 195 pounds.
Kevin Cecio was third at 132 pounds, Andrew Marino was third at 220 pounds and Joey Ryan took fourth at 160 pounds.
Cecio earned the Fastest Fall Award with four pins in 9:41.
All top-six finishers in state meets qualify for the State Open, beginning on Friday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.
Newtown High won the Class LL team title, followed by Xavier of Middletown and Danbury High.
Cannone was seeded second in his class after going 33-3 in the regular season.
“This is the time you look forward to each year,” he said. “Passing 100 wins (in the last match of the regular season) was a good milestone, but now I want to get to the State Open.”
He pinned his first foe in 1:23 and moved to the semifinals with a 13-second fall over Shelton’s Scott Plucienik.
Cannone defeated Matt Gonzalez from Newtown to gain a spot opposite top-seeded Kevin Jack (34-1) from Danbury. Jack won a 14-3 major decision to claim the title.
Briganti was the No. 2 seed at 152 after a stellar 27-4 regular season.
“My mind is on one thing and that’s winning,” said Briganti, whose dad was a wrestler and brother Dave is a former Eagle grappler.
The junior did just that, as Briganti topped Joshua Cherny from Conard, 6-3, Tyler Kenney from Xavier, 5-1, and third-seeded Felex Gonzalez from Manchester, 8-7 in the semis,
Top-seeded Anthony Falbo (22-0) from Newtown scored an 11-4 decision in the title bout.
Sollenberger was seeded second at 195 pounds with a 32-3 regular season mark.
“This is the time of the year when you want to crack down, no smiles,” said Sollenberger, a senior. “This is my third year wrestling, and I wish I came out earlier. The time has gone by so quick. I was a heavyweight last year, and I’m more comfortable at this weight.”
Sollenberger pinned his way to the semifinals (1:00 and 3:28), where he defeated third-seeded Jacob Feldman from Simsbury 5-2.
Zach Maxwell, the top seed from Southington with a 25-1 record, scored a third-period pin in the final.
At 28-2 in the regular season, Cecio was seeded second at 132 pounds.
“I’ve been wrestling since sixth grade and then took freshman year off,” said Cecio, a senior. “All the wrestlers in this class are very good so I’ll have to be sharp. I want to get to Opens and then New Englands.”
Cecio put on a pin parade the hard way, wrestling back to take third. After pinning Joshua Gravel from Southington in the second period, Cecio took part in a six-minute scramble with Thomas Fredericks from Xavier, with the Falcon taking a contested 10-9 decision.
Cecio tore through wrestlebacks — pinning in 20 seconds and 4:25 to get to the consolation semifinals, where he earned a 7-0 decision over fifth-seeded Alex Jarombek from Greenwich.
Cecio was back on top when he pinned Justin Peterson from Danbury to garner third.
Marino took a No. 4 seed into states, after the senior posted a 33-3 mark in the regular season.
“Wrestling has always been fun for me,” said Marino, who will concentrate on playing football in college. “It’s good not to be so serious — until I get on the mat.
“I missed my junior year with a broken hand and was a little rusty coming into the season. Connor (Sollenberger) helped me get my skills back in the wrestling room.”
Marino decisioned his first opponent 5-1 before getting caught by fifth-seeded Justin Lewis from Brien McMahon and falling in 1:02.
In wrestlebacks, Marino pinned in 34 seconds, won by 13-1 major decision, and won by 1:48 fall to defeat Lewis in a rematch in the consolation final.
Ryan, a sophomore, was seeded third at 160 pounds with a 29-7 regular season record.
“I’m really shooting on getting to the State Open,” he said. “The guys in my class are very good so I’ll have my work cut out.”
Ryan made it to the semifinals with 1:23 pin and a 1-0 decision, before losing a 6-2 decision to second-seeded Alex Martin from Southington.
In the consolation round, Ryan defeated Tom Reardon from Glastonbury, 3-1, and lost in the consolation finals, 6-4, to Yovany Goris from Westhill.
Earning team points for Trumbull were Tristan Havilland with two wins at 106, Mike Mirmina with a win at 113, Dante Montanaro with two wins at 120 and Mohammed Othman with a win at 170.