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While taking on one of the rougher dual meet slates in the state, Guilford wrestling proved that matches are won on the mat and not paper.
“The team wrestled well all year with only nine losses, and seven of those losses coming to teams ranked top 10 in the state,” said Coach Craig Vedrani, whose squad finished 21-9, including losses to Hand, SCC Division A-winner Xavier, Class M-champion Ledyard, along with Class S-winner and State Open-runner up Windham “We wrestled one of the toughest schedules in the state, so to reach 20 wins was great.”
After surpassing their 20-win goal, the Indians, like the rest of the SCC, dealt with the disappointment of the conference’s championship meet being cancelled due to Winter Storm Nemo. Yet Guilford did not dwell on it, as they finished 10th in the Class M State Championship on Feb. 15 and 16 with four top 10 finishers, all of whom advanced to the State Open the following week in seniors Mark Lisitano (2nd, Second Team All-SCC; 195, 28-3 overall record), Tony Dinse (5th; 220, 24-10), and captain Noah Criscuolo (6th; 132, 29-5), along with freshman Colin Rook (5th, First Team All-SCC; 120, 24-7), who was the first freshman in Guilford history to reach the State Open, earning a 1-2 record.
“I thought we had a nice dual meet team this season that was balanced,” said Vedrani, whose team graduates a dozen seniors after this campaign. “We are losing a good number of seniors, but have a lot of talented young wrestlers that work hard, which is promising for the years to come.”
In addition to Criscuolo, senior Nate Misbach (160, 22-6) also captained the Indians, as they were joined by fellow seniors in Kevin Carregal (138, 20-14), Brendon Carney (145), Billy Bell (152), David Cooper (182), AJ Jaywardena (160), Mike Ferrara (manager), Shaun Sullivan (285), and Colton Schilling (220) with Lisitano and Dinse.
“Our two captains brought lots of experience, advanced technique, and good leadership,” praised Vedrani, who’s Indians finished third in SCC Division A. “All of the seniors have put a lot of time and energy into the program and led the team to a nice season.”
Lisitano did not wrestle in the State Open due to a knee injury, but Tony Dinse (Most Improved) went 2-2 at the event, while Criscuolo (Second Team All-SCC, team MVP) found himself with a 3-2 record after the Open, as both went out on top after fighting uphill battles.
“Noah made an unbelievable comeback from a car accident to lead us,” said Vedrani on Criscuolo, who missed all of his junior campaign. “He also advanced further in the State Open Tournament than any of his teammates. Tony went from a two-year junior varsity wrestler to varsity with 44 wins within his junior and senior seasons.”
Even with the departing dozen, Vedrani sees the Guilford glass half full heading into next winter on the mats for the Indians.
“We will be a young team with lots of numbers and little experience,” commented Vedrani. “But we will also have good talent and plenty of upside.”