MERIDEN — The Maloney wrestling team fell to 13-5 overall and 2-3 in the CCC South after a return home was spoiled by a close 39-28 defeat to division rival Bristol Central on Wednesday night.
“Bristol Central is a team that many people predicted us to get blown out by, but I’m glad they went out and showed us they have heart,” said Maloney coach Angel DeJesus. “I told them to wrestle hard, wrestle smart and don’t do anything stupid and do your thing.”
The visiting Rams kicked off the match with a pair of decision wins, starting at the 120 weight class.
Joey Niek put BC on the board first after defeating Nick Rodriguez in a 7-0 bout. Niek was able to finish a takedown on Rodriguez after his initial shot was met with a sprawl. After taking Rodriguez to the mat, Niek looked to work a closing move, but settled with a pair of near-fall points as the first period came to a close.
Rodriguez kept a strong base and refused to yield on the bottom. Starting on the mat again to begin the third, Rodriguez attempted an escape, but was nearly pinned in the process as he surrendered two more back points. In a final push for freedom, Rodriguez was hit with a one-point violation.
Julien Colon extended the Bristol Central lead to 6-0 after defeating Daren Johnson 4-1 at 126.
Johnson attempted the first shot of the match, but was deflected by Colon. Following a successful sprawl, Colon quickly spun around for two.
Johnson began the second period on bottom, but was able to free himself for a point before snatching the left leg of Colon. After the duo swept out of the circle, Johnson attempted a double-leg takedown, but Colon defended and added to his lead.
Maloney looked to Robert Taylor to steer the ship back on course, a task he happily accepted. With a flurry of snaps and aggressive hand fighting throughout, Taylor nearly broke a 2-2 tie in the first period, but his takedown came past the buzzer. Starting from the bottom to start the second period, Taylor reversed his way into a pin at 2:38 seconds, tying the match at 6-6.
Bristol Central pulled out wins in the next three bouts to go up, 21-6, with Landon Dionne and Lincoln Archibald earning second-period pins at 145 and 152, respectively. Aiden Lamarre started the streak of wins with a 6-0 decision over Frainel Garcia at 132.
Richard Alonso kept the Spartans in the hunt after pinning Eric Cooper with 37 seconds left in the first period of the 160 bout. Alonso took Cooper down with a single leg and Cooper initially fought off the ensuing pin attempt. After repositioning and driving Cooper towards his shoulders, Alonso finished the job and cut the Rams lead to 21-12.
Caleb Sweeney continued to pressure the Rams with a close win over Ayden Pratt. After a grueling two periods, the 175-pounders were tied at 3-3. Pratt got to his feet to begin the closing period, but was countered on a shot attempt.
After Sweeney earned the two points, he cut Pratt free as the two were knotted up at 5-all. They clashed one final time as Sweeney got behind Pratt with just seconds left to take a 7-5 decision win.
The Rams broke Maloney’s streak of wins with a pair of quick pins for Jaden Colon and Johnny Rios at 182 and 195.
Maloney senior captain Luis Delgado secured a victory in the 220 bout after pinning Cole Kruegar with 1:41 left in the first period. The 19-second pin accounted for only five points for the team, however, after Delgado was docked a point for removing his straps early.
Coach DeJesus believes the energy his captain brings helped spark a run for the Spartans when they needed it most.
“He and the upperclassmen know me and know how I feel about cheering,” said DeJesus. “We always say ‘family’ because that’s what we are. This is the closest group we’ve had in a while.”
Looking to continue the momentum shift and keep the Spartans alive, Mohammad Abdelghani gutted out a grueling 5-3 victory over Andrew Sarkis in the heavyweight class.
Maloney freshman Logan Gagne cut the deficit down to 33-28 after defeating Angel Disla in a 16-0 technical fall. Disla fended off the pin attempts and Gagne settled for a litany of near-fall points.
Ultimately, Kaden Dragon stuck the dagger in the heart of Maloney with a pin against Angela White in the 113 bout. Dragon worked a cradle after a single-leg takedown and successfully finished it off to cap off the 39-28 victory.
“This is a young team and the more they wrestle, the more they learn and grow,” said DeJesus.
“We go back to the drawing board, look at film and go over mistakes we made and keep grinding.”