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Brother, oh brother, oh brother

Montville - The most emotional moment of the week came one night when Don Concascia walked in the front door of his home to find his youngest son, Dane, waiting for him with welcome news.

Dane, a freshman at Montville High School, had earned a spot in the starting lineup for the school's wrestling team at Wednesday afternoon's dual meet against St. Bernard.

"He's standing there saying, 'Guess what?'" Don Concascia said. "It was pretty good."

What it meant to Dane Concascia and his family was immeasurable.

It meant that Dane, wrecking the family's furniture along with older brothers Ian and Austin since he was a little boy, was finally back to full strength after a severe bout with Lyme Disease. Dane's illness, characterized by severe headaches and nausea, rendered him unable to attend school for more than 50 days of seventh and eighth grade and unable to wrestle.

It also meant that for the first and perhaps only time in Dane's high school career, he would be in the same varsity lineup with Ian, a senior, and Austin, a junior.

The match was anticlimactic.

Dane, on the Indians' junior varsity team prior to Wednesday, won by forfeit at 152 pounds, jogging to the center of the mat to have his hand raised in victory by the referee, his orange and black headgear in place ever so briefly.

Montville won 84-0, the beneficiary of 10 forfeits on behalf of St. Bernard, which chose to rest its varsity wrestlers for this weekend's Eastern Connecticut Conference meet instead of sending them to the mat against the Indians.

But the triumph was there, nonetheless.

"The first time I saw Dane wrestle, I told his dad he was going to be better than all the boys. My hope is that comes to fruition," Montville coach Gary Wilcox said Wednesday. "His brothers are pretty good. Ian was third in Class S last year and I think they both can place in the state this year.

"When he got to the high school, Dane was reluctant to wrestle at all. He was kind of not sure," Wilcox said. "But he came out for the team and in his first match he did really well. Then he was injured for about a third of the season. He had to get back in shape."

This week, Dane Concascia wrestled off against another varsity wrestler to see who was better at 152 pounds. Concascia won a close match.

It's something his dad called a big deal, having watched his son struggle with his health and even lose his spark for wrestling, in which he competed since he was 9, becoming a highly ranked youth wrestler.

"The hard part was that when he was sick, he didn't want to be a part of it," Don Concascia said. "We were worried. If you could see our house, (Dane's) always riding on one of his brother's backs or grabbing someone's leg. Last year, they ripped the arm off the couch in the basement.

"It's great to see him out there."

Dane said when wrestling season was mentioned at home, he was a little bit hesitant to try the sport after a two-year absence.

He was worried it would make him sick again.

After finally catching up with his schoolwork, he didn't want to risk it.

"At home, I would just feel horrible every day," Dane Concascia said. "I had pills and they would make me throw up if I didn't have a full stomach. I would just lay back and watch TV, then I would start feeling sick again and have to go throw up.

"I got sick of it. It was about halfway through last year I started going to school every day again."

Concascia said when he first started youth wrestling, there was a beginner program and an advanced program. A friend advised him to join the advanced program, where he would learn more.

"It came kind of natural to me," he said. "I just love the sport."

As it turns out, Wednesday's brief foray onto the varsity mat was just a taste for Dane. Wilcox announced after the match that Dane will continue to fill the 152-pound spot in the Indians' lineup throughout the ECC tournament, as well, joining his brothers once again. Ian wrestles at 170 pounds, Austin at 145.

The ECC meet begins at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Windham High School and runs through Saturday, with championship finals scheduled for 4:15 p.m.

That should give Don Concascia, his wife Shelly and their youngest child, daughter Addie, plenty to cheer about.

"I've coached everything for a lot of years and you have a lot of good memories," Wilcox said. "It's meant a lot to me to have all three of them in the program."

v.fulkerson@theday.com
Twitter: @vickieattheday

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