MERIDEN — It’s been a strong winter on the mat for the Silver City’s two wrestling teams. On Wednesday night, starting at 6 p.m. at Platt, they go head to head.
The host Panthers enter the rivarly match with a 23-11 record and with talent and depth throughout their roster. Maloney is 15-9 following a five-win season in coach Joe Winoski’s first year at the helm.
“Platt is a solid team and their record speaks for itself, but our record from last year to this year is pretty good,” Winoski said. “I’ve seen a lot of improvement. Our guys want to win. I’m seeing it a lot more in the practice production.
“Last year, I was a new coach and I was still learning. The guys are starting to pick on some things and understanding my expectations a little more.”
The Spartans have been paced by four wrestlers: senior 160-pounder Kody Talento (27-3), junior 220-pounder Darel Rivera (28-2), junior 152-pounder R.J. Plumberg (21-9) and sophomore 120-pounder Onil Carrion (22-8).
Talento is sitting on a career record of 99-35 and could reach the 100-win milestone tonight.
Winoski said the team hasn’t focused on Platt until this week and the main goal remains placing well in the state tournament. His top four guys are the biggest threats for medals.
“I won’t hype one match over another for our kids,” Winoski said. “We will focus on all 14 matches and the kids know what they need to do.”
Wednesday will be Senior Night for the Panthers. Platt has six seniors in Cristian Calero, Luke Fuerstenberg, Isaiah Ross, James Rondini, Joshua Rodriquez and Jaide Torres.
“We are excited to honor the seniors. This match is a true celebration of their hard work and dedication for the past four years,” Platt coach Bryan McCarty said. “The seniors have given the program so many great memories. This experience will stay with them forever.”
Platt won last year’s meeting with Maloney 53-18. The Panthers won all but three matches.
Platt has also defeated Maloney eight years in a row and taken 14 of the last 15 against its cross-city rival. That history notwithstanding, McCarty said he expects a tough match on Wednesday night.
“Maloney is a much-improved team,” McCarty said. “This match will be competitive. Our main focus is still getting kids ready for states, so a high intensity matchup will be a good test for us.”
Rondini, lining up primarily at 132 pounds, enters the rivalry match as the city’s lone undefeated wrestler. He has a spotless record of 34-0.
Fuerstenberg, the heavyweight, is 38-1. Ross is 35-1 at 126 and sophomore Mathew Merrigan is 32-1 at 152. Add in Calero, who is 28-5 at 170, and the Panthers expect to be a major threat at the Class M state tournament on Feb. 22.