WRESTLING: Platt wrestlers stick Middletown, improve to 6-1

MERIDEN — The Platt Panthers returned to the wrestling mat for the first time since Dec. 23 and hardly suffered for the nearly two-week layoff. They defeated the Middletown Blue Dragons 39-24 Wednesday night at Platt High School.

The Panthers had three wins by pin, three by forfeit and one by minor decision to total 39 points.

After falling to East Hartford to open the season, the Panthers have reeled off six straight wins, improving to 6-1 with Wednesday’s victory. Before the 2021 calendar year ended, the Panthers went a perfect 5-0 at the Rockville Duals.

On Wednesday, Eddie Waters (120 pounds), Caiden Talento (152s), Darren Gibbons (170), Mathew Merrigan (182), Michael Melendez (220), Jahi Mitchell (285), Cesar Rodriguez (106) all were victorious for the Panthers.

“We had good gas,” said Platt coach Bryan McCarty. “They didn’t have a lot of matches yet so it showed that we were in better shape.”

The highlight of the night came in the last match. Platt freshman 285-pounder Jahi Mitchell pinned Middletown’s Kayshaun Tatum in 0:19.

Mitchell scored a double-leg takedown in the first 0:10, put Tatum on his back and got the pin with ease. The freshman picked up his fourth win of the season and is now 4-1.

“I was thinking, I just wanted to get it over with, and I wanted to win quickly” said Mitchell. 

The two teams started the night tied 6-6 thanks to forfeits in the first two matches. The first action came when Platt freshman 132-pounder Joel Yapport suffered defeat to Middletown freshman Derek McMahon via pin in the second period after a competitive first.

Deja vu occurred in the next matchup as Platt freshman 138-pounder Luis Caban got pinned in the second-period by Middletown’s Conor McCune. 

“I love the freshmen; they’re working hard,” McCarty said. “Sometimes there are going to be teams that will outclass us, as we have around eight starting freshmen, but kids like Joel and Luis are working hard and not giving up, and they’re giving it their all.”

Platt got on track as sophomore Caiden Talento earned a second-period pin after dominating 12-0 with a few takedowns and near-falls.

The Panthers lost their next two matches. Sophomore Jereck Echevarria and junior Ahmed Hernandes both lost on points.

After that, it was all Platt. Darren Gibbons picked up a forfeit at 170 and senior 182-pounder Mathew Merrigan had an impressive  performance with a pin at 1:30. Merrigan landed a takedown in 30 seconds and pinned senior Mario Page a minute later after Page almost got back to his feet.

“You know, I just gotta stay composed,” said Merrigan, now 7-0 on the season. “I don't want to do too much. I just go in, stay calm and do my thing.”

Platt sophomore Michael Melendez moved up to 220 pounds and earned an 8-2 victory over Middletown’s Seth Varrato.

Jahi Mitchell’s pin was the last match of the night as Platt freshman Cesar Rodriguez would pick up a forfeit win at 106 pounds.

The Panthers will be back on the mat Saturday at the Southington Duals, then return home to host Plainville next Wednesday. 

“We just keep grinding,” McCarty said. “We have to enjoy the grind, enjoy the hustle and just keep working hard in the practice room.”


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