“This is a big win for this team,” Newington coach Eric Soucy said. “It’s been a while since we have beaten them. Southington is always great competition and are well-coached and really push us. I felt pretty confident our last two wrestlers were going to come out hard. They know our track record against Southington and they wanted it.”
On the other side, the Blue Knights dropped to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the CCC West.
Southington fell into an immediate 15-0 hole in a match that started at the 145 weight class. Southington coach Derek Dion knew at that point his team was in trouble.
“I was pretty sure that this was going to be the exact score and that we were going to lose by a few points, barring something going our way,” Dion said. “We are just one horse short of putting together a dual meet team.”
Southington junior Shawn Devin got the Blue Knights on the scoreboard with a 9-2 decision at 170. It was the first of four straight wins for the home team. Junior Steffan Mayette earned a forfeit victory at 182. Sophomore Jake Armstrong built a 9-1 lead and held on for a 12-7 decision to get the Blue Knights within 15-12.
Zach Maxwell gave the Blue Knights their first lead with a pin at 220 in 46 seconds.
Newington’s Andres DeValle answered with a pin at 285, putting the road team back up 21-18.
Southington’s Zach Murillo dominated his match at 106 before getting his opponent’s shoulders on the mat at 1:55.
Freshman Billy Konikowski earned a forfeit win at 113 as the Blue Knights built a 30-21 advantage.
Newington’s Joseph Briganti counted with a pin at 120 that brought the Indians within 30-27. Zach Bylykbashi put the Knights in good shape with a dominant 11-0 major decision at 126 that put Southington up 34-27.
But with two senior leaders in the final matches, Newington was set up for the comeback, and Montalvo and Goncalves came through with pins of 1:53 and 0:53, respectively.
“It was a tough loss,” Maxwell said. “Coach D gave us a speech before the game saying that Newington has beaten us once in the last 25 tries. This is definitely a heartbreaker.”
Maxwell said that the school’s lengthy Class LL football title run has had an impact on the wrestling season.
“There’s nothing we can do about it,” Maxwell said. “To be honest, I feel we have made great strides since the first practice. This is just a short-term bump in the road. We are going to bounce back.”
Dion said the team is not where it needs to be at this point.
“We are out of shape still,” Dion said. “We are behind technically. The kids wrestle tough. We just have to get better every day. Right now our focus is to try to get better towards the end of the year and salvage something. We have to set new goals. The goals we set at the beginning of the season are passed.”