MERIDEN — James Rondini was in his familiar position on Wednesday night, leading the Platt wrestling team out to the mat for warmups.
But when it came down to introductions and competition, Rondini could just cheer on his teammates from the sidelines.
Platt’s 132-pound senior and captain, the third winningest wrestler in program history, was forced to sit out the annual Platt-Maloney match with an elbow injury.
It’s not a minor one, either. Rondini sustained a dislocated elbow during practice last Thursday and has been out of action and in an full arm splint since.
A doctor’s appointment on Friday will likely determine whether the state title contender will be cleared to compete in the postseason or if his high school career is over.
“I was scared when it happened,” Rondini said. “It was a scary moment. I went the the hospital and there was no fractures in my elbow and I’ve been in a splint ever since.
“The hope is I get the splint off on Friday and I go into therapy for a week and be back for Class M’s (next) Friday,” he added. “I’m feeling good; things are looking good.”
If his high school career is over, it has been a great one for Rondini. He’s a flawless 34-0 this season and has a career mark of 140-29.
Rondini ranks behind only West Johnson (163-19) and Luis Murillo Jr. (153-18) on Platt’s all-time win list.
“If this is it? There’s been nothing better than wrestling at Platt,” Rondini said. “I woudn’t trade it for anything. I love this team. Platt is an amazing school and my coaches and teammates are amazing.”
Rondini had high postseason aspirations this season after finishing second in Class M and again at the State Open last season. He has medalled in each of his first three years in the state competition.
On Wednesday night, Rondini briefly addressed the crowd at Platt during Senior Night ceremonies. He proclaimed that he would be back and was given a loud round of applause.
The Panthers went on to win 52-28.
“It was difficult not being able to compete tonight on Senior Night against Maloney,” Rondini said. “It hit me hard, but we did amazing tonight.”
Rondini credited his lofty season record to his hard work with West Johnson, the assistant to Platt head coach Bryan McCarty, as well as with John Knapp at KT Kidz Wrestling in Rocky Hill, where he trains in the offseason.
Rondini, an All-Record-Journal grappler, plans on wrestling in college. His high school breakdown is 30-14 as a freshman, 36-10 as a sophomore, 40-5 as a junior and 34-0 this winter.
“James has his doctor’s appointment on Friday and we will see what the prognosis is and we will go from there,” McCarty said. “It was tough seeing him go down. It’s tough seeing anyone go down.
“He has put in so much time and effort in. He may be ranked No. 1 in the state rankings and it would be tough to lose him. We are praying for him and hoping he will be able to come back.”