H.S. wrestling / 2018-19 preview capsules

New London's Naaji Powell-Keyton, left, battles Simsbury's Thomas Finn during their State Open 106-pound semifinal match last winter. Powell-Keyton, who placed in the ECC, Class M and State Open as a freshman, is back to help lead the defending ECC Division I champs. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
New London's Naaji Powell-Keyton, left, battles Simsbury's Thomas Finn during their State Open 106-pound semifinal match last winter. Powell-Keyton, who placed in the ECC, Class M and State Open as a freshman, is back to help lead the defending ECC Division I champs. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

ECC Division I

East Lyme

Coach: Ed Lorah (11th year)

Key returnees: Sr. Everett Minevich, Jr. Corey Filewich, Jr. Evan Highley, Jr. Ashron Fontaine, So. Dante Bustamante, So. Colin Clerkin.

Top newcomers: Fr. Michael Minevich, Fr. David Stankoski.

Outlook: Everett Minevich, who placed third in Class M (145) and fourth at the State Open, returns to lead the Vikings, who have better numbers, but still not enough to be a strong dual meet team (they were 3-11 in dual meets last season). Lorah sees his team improving as the season progress and believes there were a number of wrestlers who could place in the ECC and state tournaments this winter.

Fitch

Coach: Mark Kosman (22nd year)

Key returnees: Sr. Austin Robertson (152), Sr. Keith McDonald (170), So. Aiden Robertson (138), Jr. Cam Aldinger (160), So. Josh Letellier (145), Jr. Vincent Trento (160), So. Finn Koehler (126), Jr. Nate Cote (145), Sr. Adrian McEwen (160), Jr. David Ervin (160), So. Mikayla Taylor (160), Jr. Sam Light (145, Stonington).

Top newcomers: Fr. Thurman Banks (285), Fr. Xeriah Bonano (132), So. Grant Frickman (182), Jr. Jackson Meuse (160), Fr. Cal Meuse (170), So. Ian Roche (145), Fr. Greg Santora (170), Fr. Ray Jimenez (285), Sr. Darius DiPaolo (145), Fr. Gaven Morrow (220), Fr. Jayden St. Louis (119), Fr. Ty Ambroise (182), Fr. Caleb Garza (195), So. Christian De Los Santos (160).

Outlook: The Falcons must replace Jarod Kosman, who completed a magical unbeaten season by winning ECC, Class L, State Open, New England and national championships at 113 pounds, along with Dakota Grover (220), who won ECC, Class L and State Open titles before placing fourth in the New England tournament. Fitch went 6-9 in dual meets, but has solid numbers and some promising young talent this season. Austin Robertson, last year's ECC champion at 145, is back and will serve as co-captain with McDonald. The team also includes Light, a one-man team from Stonington who won an ECC title at 138 last season.

New London

Coach: Mike Gorton (7th year)

Key returnees: Sr. Jacob Commander, So. Naaji Powell-Keyton, So. Max Commander, Sr. Jose Solis, So. Teshuah Williams.

Top newcomers: Fr. Carlos Reyes, So. Yaya Medina, So. Jadian McKenzie, Sr. Keifer Andrus.

Outlook: The Whalers were one of the most pleasant surprises in the ECC a year ago, winning the Division I title and placing fifth in the Class M state meet. The result was a strong turnout this season, giving New London a good mix of experience and youth. Jacob Commander, the reigning ECC and Class M state champion at 195, and his brother Max will be brought along slowly while recovering from nagging football injuries, but State Open place-winner Powell-Keyton (fourth at 106) is back to lead a young group of lightweights. "Practices have been high energy and very physical," said Gorton, who expects the Whalers to improve as the season moves along.

NFA

Coach: Steven Nelson (3rd year)

Key returnees: So. Dominic Renfree, Sr. Brandon Nieto, Jr. Theran Vanase, Jr. Mason McMahon, So. Savannah Vanase, So. CJ Grube, Sr. Jesuan Claudio Lugo.

Top newcomers: Fr. Connor DeVega, Fr. Jadiel Quinones, Jr. Tanner Grohocki, Jr. Ruben Britos, Sr. Jadon Powell.

Outlook: The Wildcats made strides in Nelson's second season, finishing 10-9 during the dual season. They return four ECC tournament place-winners, including second-place finishers Renfree (120) and Vanase (152), who also placed in the Class LL tourney. Said Nelson: "With a core group of experienced wrestlers and a few promising additions, we hope to have a winning record and a team who will compete for an ECC Division I title."

ECC Division II

Ledyard

Coach: Steve Bilheimer (16th year)

Key returnees: Sr. Cole Dirico (152), So. J'Mari Lowman (126).

Top newcomers: So. Jacob Foster (132), So. Ryan McGowan (145), Sr. Tim Dorr (170), So. Davin McIver (195).

Outlook: Richard Mullaney, the Class S champion at 285, has graduated from a team that went 13-12 during the dual season and finished second behind surprising New London in ECC Division I. Bilheimer believes the Colonels will be in the thick of the division race again this winter and be a factor in the ECC tournament, as well as in the Class M tournament.

Waterford

Coach: Chris Gamble (19th year)

Key returnees: Sr. Logan Smith, Sr. Eric Zane, Jr. AJ Sachatello, Sr. Tyler Radack, Sr. Jake Gannotti.

Top newcomer: Fr. Mason Concascia.

Outlook: The Lancers won four of their final five dual meets a year ago, including a big win over Ledyard, to finish 13-12, then tied for seventh in the Class M state meet. Smith, the reigning ECC and two-time Class M champion at 106, returns along with Zane, Sachatello, Radack and Gannotti, who all placed in the ECC tournament. "The coaching staff is excited about this year's team," Gamble said. "The team has a good mix of new and experienced wrestlers that so far have been working well together."

ECC Division III

Montville

Coach: Gary Wilcox (19th year)

Key returnees: Sr. Zak Navarrette, Sr. Ian Anderson, Sr. Darrick Deaveau, Sr. Jayden Colon, Sr. Jack Varley, Jr. Quinn Bond, Jr. Mick Wynosky, So. Ioana Cobena, So. Cy Champagne, So. Chris Cullen, So. Derek Debbis, So. Zack Doiron, So, Aida Flores, So. Sawyer Kury, So. Brandon Petersen, Jr. Chris Earley.

Top newcomers: Fr. Blake Chapman, Sr. Chris Jaskiewicz, Sr. Ken Heon, Jr. Nathan Bedingfield, Jr. Frank Cook, Jr. Kolt McCracken, Jr. Tanner Diamantini, Jr. Chase Swinburne, So. Andrew Benoit, So. Tsering Chopel, Fr. Baylee Gagnier, Fr. Mario Cueva, Fr. Aaron Muncaster, Fr. Rodolfo Reyes.

Outlook: The Indians went 17-2 a year ago and won the ECC Division III title. They graduated four members of The Day's All-Area team — State Open champ Noah Caskey (132), Sam Kury (152), Dane Concascia (182) and Nick Tibbetts (220), but return a solid cast along with some promising newcomers. Bond, Colon, Sawyer Kury, Anderson, Navarette and Doiron are returning ECC tournament place-winners who should make Montville a threat in the division and at the Class S state meet.

St. Bernard/Norwich Tech

Coach: Tom Dowler (7th year)

Key returnees: Sr. Doug Rediger, Jr. Logan Starr, So. Bradley Telfer, Fr. Jeremy Foular, So. Chris Gill, Sr. Josh Brown, Sr. Wil Korineck, Jr. Roark Ryan.

Top newcomers: Fr. Jake Darras, Fr. Dylan Rice, Fr. Jason Jones, Fr. Andrew Haller, Fr. Edward Ives, So. Bradley Snyler, So. Cole Occhianini Fr. Noah Santiago.

Outlook: The Saints finished last season with five straight dual wins to wind up 9-15, and hope to build off that success. "We have a great mix of some experience and brand new wrestlers," Dowler said. "We're looking forward to a good year and a fun year." Ryan is the most accomplished of the returnees, placing in both the ECC and Class M state tournaments a year ago at 285.

Waterford's Logan Smith leaps into the arms of coach Chris Gamble after winning last season's 106-pound title at the ECC tournament. Smith, who went on to win the Class M state title, too, is back for his senior season. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Waterford's Logan Smith leaps into the arms of coach Chris Gamble after winning last season's 106-pound title at the ECC tournament. Smith, who went on to win the Class M state title, too, is back for his senior season. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

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