Deveau completes Cinderella story, helping Montville to second in Class S

Willimantic — His coach called senior Darrick Deveau's climb to Class S state champion wrestling status a true Cinderella story.

Given Deveau's wrestling background, it's hard to argue with Gary Wilcox, Montville High School's head coach.

Through sheer hard work and determination, Deveau went from winning maybe one match in his first year of wrestling as a sophomore to standing in the winner's circle on Saturday.

It was a dominating performance by the top seed, as Deveau pinned all four 285-pound opponents in the tournament, including Valley Regional's Ben Falivene in just one minute, 26 seconds. He was the only champion for the Indians, who placed second as a team with 190 points behind winner Gilbert with 193.5 points.

"He's only a three-year wrestler," Wilcox said. "To be a state champion, that's pretty darn good. ... I'm thrilled he won. That is a true Cinderella story. My thought was, if we can get him to win 80 percent of his matches as a senior. He's probably 36-2 right now. So I'm very proud of that kid. He's just a great, great kid. He's one of those kids that everybody is rooting for because he's just so nice."

After winning his first state championship a year after not placing, an emotional Deveau walked off the mat and received his share of congratulatory hugs. He credited his title to all the long hours in the gym and extra work.

"This is my moment," Deveau said. "I really wanted to shine out and show my team and my community and my town. This is where I show off. ... To get out of there with a pin in the first period, that's magical right there."

When the title match started, Deveau immediately took control and quickly overpowered Falivene, the No. 3 seed. A third-place finisher in the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament, Deveau looks forward to facing his fellow ECC competitors in the State Open.

"This is what I've been waiting for," he said of the state title. "But now I've got to go to the State Open and win that also."

Montville took home the consolation prize for the fifth time under Wilcox, whose team last finished as the runner-up in 2015.

The Indians held a 4.5 point lead over Gilbert after the semifinals.

Both Montville and Gilbert placed four wrestlers in the finals. But Gilbert delivered three victories to just Montville's one.

Senior Ian Anderson, the No. 2 seed at 152, dropped a 9-3 decision to Gilbert's Kyle Matthews, the top seed. At 126, No. 3 Quinn Bond lost on a technical fall (16-1) to defending champion Angelo Folino of Northwestern Regional. And freshman Blake Chapman's strong run at 106 ended against East Catholic senior Jacob Marselli, who posted a pin about halfway through the first period.

"We are one of the most consistent small teams in the state," Wilcox said. "Year after year, we are there. ... Sometimes you need a little luck. But, we'll win a state plaque. I'm proud of the kids; they wrestled pretty well. I'm pretty happy with that. We placed seven. I can't complain about it."

One of the tournament's biggest surprises was the performance of Stonington junior Sam Light at 138 pounds. The sixth seed, Light shocked top-seeded Brian Connolly of Canton in the semifinals, 2-1, to set up a final match with No. 2 Nicholas Barber of Gilbert for the title.

And what a final it was.

A last-second move earned Barber two points for a 4-2 sudden victory win.

"I had some confidence in myself after I beat the five seed in the quarterfinals," Light said. "When I took out the one seed, I thought, man, this is going to be my day. I'm definitely happy with the way I wrestled today and I'm happy that I have another year after this."

Light, the only member of the Stonington wrestling team, practices and competes with Fitch during the regular season. With the Falcons at the Class L match in Bristol, Light arrived without a coach. He was grateful that Windham's Patrick Risley stepped in to help him out. He borrowed a Windham singlet until his Stonington one arrived for the final.

"He was fantastic," Light said of Risley, whose Whippets finished third after winning a year ago. "He helped me throughout the entire day. It really helped a lot because he's a phenomenal coach."

g.keefe@theday.com


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