Wrestling: Trumbull High crowns three Class LL champions

Matt Ryan, Joe Palmieri and Brett Nutter were hometown heroes on Saturday when the Trumbull High trio captured Class LL state wrestling titles at the Eagles gymnasium.

Jack Ryan and Jonathan Kosak placed second and David Castaldo took fourth, as coach Charlie Anderson’s team tied Southington for third place with 175 points.

Danbury (274) won the team title and Fairfield Warde (200) was second.

“It’s all good,” Anderson said of taking six Eagles to next weekend’s State Open in New Haven. “Jack, Matt, Joe and Brett are all hard workers. Jonathan was ill last week at FCIACs. That’s taking nothing away from those wrestlers he faced. Today, Jonathan was one hundred percent. David did a great job all day. We received a lot of good mileage (throughout the lineup). Today, everyone fed off each other.”

The top seed at 138 pounds, Matt Ryan defeated second-seeded Shamar Schand from Manchester 8-7. A junior, Ryan rallied from a 4-2 deficit with an escape in the second. At 6-6 in the third, Ryan scored a takedown for an 8-6 lead. Schand had an escape, but could get no closer off a restart with 11 seconds remaining.

“I loved this environment,” Ryan said of winning before a packed house, including a large Trumbull contingent. “He (Schand) was big and strong. This (winning) feels good, awesome.”

Palmieri won the 182-pound crown with a 4-3 decision over Simsbury’s No. 2 seed Jackson King. Seeded first, Palmieri had an escape and a takedown in the second period for a 3-0 lead. King escaped early in the third, before Palmieri added his second takdown to up the margin to 4-1 with 21 seconds remaining. King got a reversal at the buzzer.

“I lost in the (state) semifinals, so to beat a real good wrestler in the finals feels great. I think Brett and I both fed off Matt winning his title. It was great to do it all in front of our friends and family.”

Top-seeded Nutter’s 3-2 victory over Joe Gjinaj from Warde was a rematch between two of the state’s best at 195 pounds. Tied at 1 in the second period, it looked like the second-seeded Gjinaj was going to go in front. Nutter, however, made a spin move near the outside circle for the takedown and a 3-1 advantage. Gjinaj escaped with 18 seconds left, but Nutter defended his home turf to earn the title.

“I learned that move from Joe,” Nutter said. “He does it to me in drills and this is the first time I’ve tried it in a match. Winning by the skin of my teeth in these matches has got to stop.”

Jack Ryan lost to top-seeded Thomas Finn from Simsbury, 5-2, in the 106-pound final. A sophomore, the second-seeded Ryan made it 4-2 with 15 seconds left in the third.

“I didn’t place in states last year, so I wanted to stay calm and focus on my match," Ryan said. "He (Finn) is a lanky guy and that gave me problems. This was a great day for my team.”

Kosak was the third seed at 126 pounds, and the junior jumped one spot despite dropping a 6-3 decision to top-seeded Aaron Occhipinti from Newtown. Kosak had advanced with three wins by fall.

“I was junior varsity the last two seasons,” said Kosak, a junior who brought a 29-7 record into his final. “I spent the offseason at camps, wrestling with South Side, and going to Fargo (North Dakota). I wanted to improve in all areas.”

Castaldo, the fourth seed at 132 pounds, put together a concentrated effort that saw the junior go 3-1 in wrestle backs to place fourth.

“I just kept saying to myself that I had to get to the next round,” Castaldo said. “Part of the process is staying focused and moving forward.”