Trumbull sending eight to State Open

Cross Cannone pointed toward a large group of Trumbull High students massed in the corner of the bleachers and lifted both hands toward the ceiling — the sophomore had won the Class LL 113-pound title with a 3-1 victory, and with it the Eagles had secured a program-best second-place finish at states in their own gymnasium on Saturday.

Coach Niko Filippakis’ Eagles saw three wrestlers gain the finals and eight grapplers qualify for the State Open.

Open wrestling begins with three rounds at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven beginning at 4:30 on Friday.

The championship quarterfinals are at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with championship semifinals (1:30) and consolation rounds to follow. Finals are slated to begin at 6:15.

Brandon Liscinsky at 126 pounds and Brandon Fulco at 160 pounds made their senior seasons memorable as each advanced to their first state final.

Kevin Cecio placed fourth at 132 pounds, Tim Douthit was fourth at 170 pounds, Erik Mercado was fifth at 195 pounds, David Briganti was sixth at 152 pounds and John Miolene was six at 220 pounds.

Danbury (215.5) won the team title, followed by Trumbull (172), South Windsor (160) and Simsbury (159).

“I’m very pleased with our performance and we’re on a mission,” Filippakis said prior to the consolation finals. “I’m not being superstitious, but I’m going to wait until all the matches are done before I can give a full grade.

“Wrestling is what it is.”

This is what wrestling is:

•    It is Cannone exceeding his second seed and not allowing a point in four matches until giving up an escape to South Windsor’s Justin Healey that tied things at 1 with 1:15 remaining in his final.

A single leg lift, followed by a trip, and a step over takedown with 17 seconds on the clock gave Cannone the win. By beating a South Windsor wrestler, Cannone had knocked the Bobcats out of contention for the second spot in the team standings.

“It’s a pretty unexplainable feeling,” said Cross, who will bring a 35-4 record to the Open, where he is seeded third. “I knew it was going to be tough (in the finals) fifteen seconds in, but with the crowd chanting my name, I had to keep striving until the whistle blew.”

•    Wrestling is the third-seeded Liscinsky, riding his way to a 1-0 semifinal victory over second-seeded Will Chowanec from Xavier-Middletown, one of the few wrestlers in the state who can match Liscinsky in both strength and quickness.

The Eagle escaped from Chowanec at the 1:18 mark of the second period, and then controlled his multiple switch attempts. On the final restart with 16 seconds remaining, Liscinsky caught an ankle and stayed with the spinning Falcon as time expired.

Wrestling being what it is, Southington’s fifth-seeded Nathan Solomon, who had knocked off top-seeded Conor Caffrey from South Windsor in the semifinals, took a similar path to edge Liscinsky, 1-0, in the title match.

Solomon escaped with 1:34 left in the second, and then held on, including stopping a difficult roll by Liscinsky with 36 seconds left.

“Beating Chowanec in the semis was huge,” said Liscinsky, who hadn’t wrestled in a match for three weeks to let a pulled rib heal. “I had scouted him and knew he liked to get to his feet, so I looked to trip him back to the mat each time.”

Liscinsky (33-4) is seeded seventh at the Open.

•    Wrestling is the second-seeded Fulco dominating three opponents to earn the walk to the center of the mat in the finals, where he lost by fall to defending FCIAC champion Juan Garcia, who placed third at Nationals.

“Everything has really clicked this year,” said Fulco, who advanced with a 38-second pin, an 8-0 decision, and a fall in 2:33 in the semifinals. “Last year was my first year starting, and not placing in Class LL really drove me.”

Fulco (39-5) is seeded eight at the Open.

•    Wrestling is Miolene taking the mat for his consolation round match for fifth place, after bruising his nose and straining his upper back in a physical showdown one bout earlier. His team needed him to continue.

•    More than anything, wrestling was defined when Cecio met Simsbury High’s Keith Fernandes in the consolation quarterfinals.

The 11th-seeded Cecio lifted the seventh-seeded Trojan off his feet and brought him down to the mat —whether by rule Cecio’s knee hit first or not is moot.

Fernandes was shaken up, and when the injury clock ran out, he had to decide if he should take the injury default or continue.

He chose to wrestle, and although Cecio pinned him with one second left in the second period for valuable team points, Fernandes left the mat a true wrestler.