Wrestling: Trumbull Eagles fourth at FCIACs

Coach Charlie Anderson’s Trumbull High team placed fourth at the Joe Sikorski FCIAC Wrestling Championships at New Canaan High last Saturday.

Danbury High (242) won the team title, followed by Warde (202), New Canaan (168), Trumbull (130.5) and Wilton (116) in the 14-team field.

Trumbull’s Brandon Neri-Jacobs placed second at 113 pounds, Matt Ryan was runner-up at 138 pounds and Joe Palmieri placed second at 182 pounds.

Brandon Neri-Jacobs

As a freshman, Neri-Jacobs had learned his trade at the junior varsity level. When given an opportunity to take the mat for the varsity — “I won my only match and it was by forfeit,” he said. This season, Neri-Jacobs posted a 26-8 record and was seeded third for FCIACS.

He pinned in 1:54 of his quarterfinal bout and advanced to finals with a 9-3 decision over No. 2 seed Themy Barkas from Norwalk. Down 3-2 after one period, the Eagle had an escape and takedown in the second for a 6-3 lead. He added three back points with 42 seconds remaining.

Neri-Jacobs lost by fall to top-seeded and unbeaten Ben LeBlanc from Danbury. He will next compete at this weekend’s Class LL championships at Trumbull High.

“The best part of wrestling is that you get to push yourself further than you think you can go,” he said. “I started after middle school with Southside Wrestling. After freshman year, I worked on my stand ups (escape) and controlling better from the top. I wrestle Jack Ryan (at 138 pounds) in practice so I can to go against someone with a lot of strength and quickness.”

Matt Ryan

Seeded second at 138 pounds, Ryan cruised to the finals with a 43-second pin followed by a 9-0 semifinal decision over No. 3 seed Noah Zuckerman from Warde. Top-seeded Tyler Sung from New Canaan was able to earn a decision in the defense-dominated final. Ryan had won an FCIAC title as a freshman and was runner-up a year ago at 113 pounds to Danbury’s LeBlanc. He will take a 33-4 record into the Class LL matches.

“Wrestling at 138 pounds meant I had to get stronger, get quicker and expand my technique,” said Ryan, who came into FCIACs with 101 victories in his career. “I work with Jonathan Kosak (126 pounds) in the wrestling room, we help each other (match moves).”

Joe Palmieri

Palmieri likes to wrestle, he likes to be aggressive. Seeded second at 182 pounds with a record of 31-3, the junior pinned in 2:49 before earning a 17-2 win by technical fall in the semifinals. Top-seeded Andrew Ninaj from Greenwich won the title with a decision. “I’ve been wrestling since fifth grade and I love the competition,” Palmieri said. “This season I’ve been looking to make the first move. I wanted to get better wrestling on my feet. Wrestling is hard work, but you get rewarded.” Palmieri placed sixth at FCIACs as a sophomore.

FCIAC roundup

Jack Ryan wrestled back to take third at 106 pounds. He earned the Fastest Fall Award with three pins in 2:58. A sophomore, Ryan was seeded third and had a 1:00 pin, before meeting No. 2 seed Tyler Johnson in the semifinals. The absence of points didn’t take away from this rousing bout of twists and turns. Johnson escaped with a forward roll with 15 seconds remaining in the second period. Ryan broke free midway through the two-minute third session. Ryan held Johnson through three rolls in the first 30-second overtime. He looked to break free as the buzzer sounded in the second session, but was ruled in the grasp. Given the option, Johnson chose bottom in the fourth overtime and escaped. Ryan ripped his way through wrestlebacks with wins by fall in 1:01 and 57 seconds.

William Holmes, the sixth seed at 145 pounds won a pair of consolation matches, including a 4-2 win over No. 4 seed Johnny Estevez from Danbury to place fifth.

David Castaldo placed sixth at 132 pounds. He was seeded fifth, split a pair of championship round matches and consolation bouts before losing an 11-9 decision to sixth-seeded Mikey SantaLucia from Wilton.

Gabe LaGuardia scored a 54-second pin in his first bout at 160 pounds.

Webster Williams went 1-1 on the day at 170 pounds, winning a 7-2 decision before losing to eventual champion Gino Baratta from Danbury.