BEST OF THE BUNCH: State champs, McCarty induction highlighted wrestling’s season of resurrection



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MERIDEN — Wrestling went from famine to feast in 2021-22.

After the COVID-cancelled campaign of 2020-21, the sport returned in full this year and it was punctuated by two state class championships for area teams and the induction of Platt coach Bryan McCarty into the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Along the way, McCarty hit the 500-win milestone for his 30-year career. He’ll take 511 wins into season No. 31 this coming winter, which ranks him fifth all-time in Connecticut wrestling history.

Knowing McCarty, he’s probably squirming by now at all this attention and prefer we move along with our finalists for Record-Journal Wrestler of the Year.

So let’s get after it. McCarty and his Panthers furnish nominee No.1 and that’s Caiden Talento.

The sophomore had far and away the best season among area rookies. For that matter, he had far and away one of the best among all area wrestlers.

Weighing in at 152 pounds, Talento went 27-1 in his first regular season. That earned him the No. 2 ranking for the Class M state tournament.

Talento held seed with a major decision and two pins. Paired with No. 4 Roel Johnson of Avon in the final, Talento pulled away to an 8-2 decision.

With two more victories at the State Open, Talento finished the season at 33-3. He’ll continue building on that record over the next two seasons.

Our other two finalists, on the other hand, have landed their final varsity takedowns. Freshly graduated seniors Onil Carrion of Maloney and Ben Gorr of Southington both enjoyed careers that dated back to strong freshman seasons.

The lost year did not cost Gorr a milestone. Following up on a 39-win season as a freshman and a 36-win campaign as a sophomore, Gorr was 31-3 as a 132-pound senior.

That gave him a final high school mark of 107-32.

Gorr delivered on his No. 1 seed in the 132-pound bracket at the Class LL state tournament. He scored a pair of decisions, pinned to win in the semis, then defeated No. 2 Nick Fatone of Norwalk 6-1 in the championship bout.

It was the first state crown for Gorr and advanced him to the State Open for the third time in his career.

Over at Maloney, it’s safe to say the lost COVID year did cost Carrion the 100-win milestone. He went 24-8 this winter and finished his career at 72-31.

Wrestling at 120 pounds as a senior, Carrion went 20-4 in the regular season, placed fifth in Class LL and advanced to the State Open.

Also a soccer and volleyball player, and one of the top students in Maloney’s Class of 2022 Carrion is heading to Colgate University.

On Deck: Ice Hockey



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