Wrestling: Managing a loss helps Trumbull win

Trumbull High was geared up for its FCIAC wrestling match with Greenwich High on Wednesday. Not only were the cross-county rivals filling two mats with varsity and junior varsity grapplers, there was a fine fan base in place to watch the tandem bouts.

Coach Niko Fillipakis’ Eagles opened with a win over New Canaan. Greg Domestico’s Cardinals defeated Brewster (N.Y.) in their opener, then placed third at the Shelton Invitational.

THS and GHS each could boast quality grapplers who would be able to tilt the score in their team’s favor. So what is a less experienced wrestler to do when faced with meeting a superior talent?

It’s called managing a loss. That’s what Trumbull’s Brian Wallace and Christopher Briganti did in the Eagles’ 49-24 victory over the Cardinals. It doesn’t mean that Wallace, a junior taking on the Cards’ Ethan Ross, or Briganti, a freshman matching skills with Michael Ceci, didn’t hope for the best.

But once the match went the other way, they turned their attention to saving team points. Losing by a fall costs six points, technical fall five and by major decision four. The lesser of two evils, so to speak.

Wallace took the mat for his 152-pound bout with Trumbull leading 28-9. Ross, a quad captain who placed fourth in the FCIAC and fifth in Class LL as a junior, took a 5-0 lead in the first period, with Wallace fighting off his back at one point. Ross built his lead to 9-0 before the final horn. Four points for GHS, not six.

Briganti faced a similar test. Ceci was sixth in the state at 145 pounds. Now a senior captain, Ceci moved up to the 160-pound class, where he won the Shelton Invitational title.

Ceci used the catch-and-release practice favored by freestylers — get the takedown and if back points aren’t in the offing, give up an escape and do it again. Briganti battled through five of these tradeoffs, and then limited Ceci to three back points as the buzzer sounded on period two.

Leading 17-5 in the third, Ceci turned to the cradle. Briganti wouldn’t allow his shoulder do be exposed on one, two...But on the third Ceci scored the three points, but didn’t get the fall. a 20-5 win by technical fall. Five points for GHS, not five.

Greenwich took a 6-0 lead on Mitchell Grimes’ pin of Christopher Smaniotto at the 1:05 mark of their 106-pound match.

Matt Ryan, a freshman, drew four points back with a 13-2 major decision over junior Dylan Ehret.

Tristan Haviland put the Eagles in front for good when the junior 113-pounder posted a 57-second pin.

At 126 pounds, Greenwich senior Wyndsor Doyle won an 8-2 decision over junior Alex Greco.

Michael Mirmina, a junior, boosted the Eagles’ lead to 16-9 with a win by fall at 3:06 of his 132-pound match with senior Brian Harvey.

Adam Giammattei received special words of encouragement from his coach before his 138-pound match with fellow junior Jonathan Loja. Noting the importance of a strong performance, Giammattei took leads of 5-0 after one and 9-0 after two before getting the pin call at 5:37.

Dante Montanaro made it three straight wins by fall, as the 145-pound junior pinned senior Patrick Javier in 1:47 for a 28-9 team lead.

Following Greenwich’s back-to-back wins in the middle weights, Michael Greco added six points to the Trumbull side with a pin in 3:31 in his 171-pound bout. The junior led 8-1 at the time.

Joey Ryan then made the most of his season debut (he had been awarded a forfeit in the New Canaan match). The senior stayed in the center of the mat and lured 182-pound rival Alexander Nanai into his lair. A quick lift takedown was followed by a pair of two-point near falls. Ryan patiently worked on his next opportunity and got the pin at 1:39 for a 40-18 lead.

Greenwich’s Erik Menchaca, the FCIAC runner-up at 220 pounds as a junior, got his team back on the scoreboard with a pin in 2:50 over Trumbull 195-pounder Matt Alegi.

Then it was Mike Maresca’s turn to get the crowd excited.

Coming off a memorable win in his season opener, the 220-pound junior took on Greenwich junior Peyton Larkin, who took a 5-1 lead midway through the second period.

Maresca got an escape and a takedown to get within one, but Larkin escaped with time winding down to take a 6-4 lead into the third period. Maresca escaped to make it 6-5, and then scored a two-point takedown for a 7-6 lead with 44 seconds left. Larkin escaped, and nearly tallied a reversal, to take the score to 7-7.

From the neutral position in the first 1:00 overtime session, the duo battled for the winning takedown, with Maresca getting around a Larkin attempt to shoot and getting the call with one second remaining.

Trumbull heavyweight Desmond Washington was awarded a forfeit.