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Willimantic - That Jake Caskey became a two-time defending Class S state wrestling champion Saturday night was mere postscript. Put it this way: Winning is one thing. But doing it with your nose broken against an opponent with a crisp 149 career wins belongs in Montville High School lore and legend.
Caskey, wrestling at 138 pounds, defeated David Colvin of the Old Saybrook/Westbrook cooperative in Saturday night's finals, 2-0, earning his second straight Class S title and the meet's Outstanding Wrestler award, not to mention the enduring respect of his peers, who know the mat is difficult enough without a swelling schnoz.
Caskey, whose personality matches his toughness, bear-hugged anyone in his airspace moments after the match.
"I'll tell you this much," Montville coach Gary Wilcox said. "I looked at his nose and it was already starting to swell. I said, 'stand up and look at me.' He goes, 'I'm bleeping wrestling.' I said, 'OK, you're good.' There's nothing deterring him. That's the kind of tenacity he has."
It was a typical wrestling collision and certainly nothing purposeful that landed Caskey on his back.
"As soon as he hit it I knew," Caskey said. "As I was laying on the mat, I said, 'ref, I think I broke my nose and don't you dare stop this match.'"
Caskey executed a reverse in the second period to earn all the points he needed. "I worked on that all week," he said.
Caskey moved to 43-1 this season and has 143 wins entering next week's State Open. His only loss of the season came to Justin Lindblom of Waterford. When it was suggested to Caskey that he may get a chance at revenge next week, Caskey said, "I sure hope so. I'd love to get that one back."
"This is a match he wanted. Colvin finished second at the (State) Open last year," Wilcox said. "He's been preparing for this. He did a great job. he did everything right."
Caskey had that in common with his team, which finished third, much to the delight of Wilcox. Seven wrestlers - Caskey, Joel Morth (113), Zack Looney (120), Tom Wynosky (126), Jacob Schmalz (152), Ian Concasia (160) and Pat Bogan (170) qualified for the State Open.
Montville's Eastern Connecticut Conference rival Windham won its second straight Class S title with 183.5 points followed by Terryville (173.5) and the Indians (163).
"We scored a lot of points," Wilcox said. "We don't have a 106 and we don't have a heavyweight. Per capita, I think we scored more points than anyone else here. We have seven kids going to the Open. This is one of our better performances."
Maybe nobody else next week, though, will get the attention of the kid with the broken nose.
"I'll wear a facemask if I have to," Caskey said. "The focus intensifies at this time of the season. Everything you've worked for culminates in these next few weeks."