H.S. wrestling / 2019-20 preview capsules
ECC Division I
East Lyme/Norwich Tech
Coach: Ed Lorah (12th season)
Key returnees: Sr. Corey Filewich (182), Sr. Evan Highley (285), Sr. Roark Ryan (195/220), Sr. Logan Starr (138/145), Jr. Chris Gill (170), So. Michael Minevich (138), So. Xzias Bellamy (145/152), So. David Stankoski (132).
Top newcomers: Fr. Jeremiah Irizary (113), Fr. Joseph Morse (106), Fr. Jackson Heart (126).
Outlook: The Vikings have been joined by Norwich Tech as a cooperative team (St. Bernard no longer has a program) and will be bolstered by two seasoned Norwich Tech wrestlers in Ryan, Starr and Gill. Ryan placed fourth in Class M at 285 last season but is dropping down to 220 and possibly 195. With a full lineup (East Lyme did graduate three-time Class M place-winner Everett Minevich), Lorah looks forward to a competitive season in Division I.
Coach: Mark Kosman (23rd season)
Key returnees: So. Garrett Baker (106), So. Kato Baldoz (113), So. Jayden St. Louis (120), Sr. Finn Koehler (126), So. Xeriah Bonano (132), Jr. Aiden Robertson (138/145), Sr. Cam Aldinger (152), Sr. Jackson Meuse (160), Sr. David Ervin (170), So. Cal Meuse (182/195), Sr. Vincent Trento (182/195), So. Greg Santoro (182/195), So. Ty Ambroise (220), So. Ray Jimenez (285), So. Thurman Banks (285).
Top newcomers: Fr. Luca Ursini (106), So. John Luethy (170), So. Steve Rosa (126), Fr. Naszier Matthews (170), Fr. Malakai Maddox (138/145), So. Thomas Burt (152).
Outlook: The Falcons must replace ECC champion Austin Robertson (138), but Kosman expects to see great improvement this winter because a number of sophomores gained invaluable varsity experience as freshmen. Another strong freshman class will follow the lead of seniors Aldinger, Trento and Koehler.
Coach: Mike Gorton Jr. (8th season)
Key returnees: Jr. Max Commander, Jr. Naaji Powell-Keyton, Jr. Jadian Mackenzie, Jr. Teshua Williams, Jr. Keano Gonzalez, Sr. Tim Flynn, Sr. Noah Boozer, Sr. Karl Willoughby.
Top newcomers: So. Tristen Robledo-Thompson, So. Moustafa Dannett, Fr. Kanye Nance.
Outlook: Jacob Commander, a three-time ECC champ who went on to win a Class L title at 182 and place third in the State Open and New England tournaments, has taken his talents to American International College, but the Whalers return a pair of ECC champions in Powell-Keyton and Mackenzie from a team that shared the ECC Division I title with NFA. Gonzalez and Commander were Class L place-winners and Williams was an ECC place-winner. Gorton expects New London to battle NFA again in Division I and be a factor in the postseason.
Norwich Free Academy
Coach: Steve Nelson (4th season)
Key returnees: Jr. Savannah Vanase, So. Connor DeVega, Jr. Dominic Renfree, Jr. CJ Grube, So. Francisco Lugo Del Toro, Jr. Jose Aquilar, Sr. Theran Vanase, Sr. Mason McMahon, Sr. Christian Gervais, Sr. Ruben Britos.
Top newcomers: Fr. Jaiden James, Fr. Thomas Burnelli, Fr. Will Ambruso, Jr. Destiny Mateo, So. Gaven Morrow, Fr. Jancarlos Malave, Jr. Derek Viverios, So. Quinn Perkins.
Outlook: Big things are expected of the Wildcats this winter. After finishing 17-8 in dual meets and sharing the Division I title with New London, NFA returns the bulk of its lineup that also placed a solid sixth in Class LL. Theran Vanase, Renfree and DeVega are returning Class LL medalists while Grube, McMahon and Britos joined them as place-winners in the ECC tournament. Renfree was an All-Area pick at 132. Nelson expects the Wildcats to contend again in Division I and improve their postseason performances in the ECC and Class LL.
ECC Division II
Coach: Allyn Quibble (1st season)
Key returnees: So. Connor Doran (106), Sr. Caden Foote (132), Sr. Mason Barnett (145), Jr. Brayden Grim (152), Jr. Davin McIver (220).
Outlook: Quibble, a former all-state wrestler for the Colonels, steps up to replace Steve Bilheimer after serving as an assistant. Ledyard did suffer some graduation losses, but returns a pair of Class M place-winners in Doran and Grim from a team that went 21-7 against a demanding schedule.
Coach: Chris Gamble (20th season)
Key returnees: So. Mason Concascia, Jr. Jackson Harshberger, Jr. Joe Morgan, Jr. Liam Ward, Sr. Jeremiah Harshberger, Sr. Donnie Mellon, Sr. Eli Morosky, Sr. AJ Sachatello.
Outlook: While the Lancers suffered some key graduation losses, including ECC champion Logan Smith (113) and ECC and Class M finalist Eric Zane (138), they return six wrestlers who placed in either the ECC or Class M meet: Concascia, Jackson and Jeremiah Harshberger, Mellon, Morosky and Sachatello. "Like last year we have a good mix of experience and new wrestlers," said Gamble. Waterford went 18-6 a year ago and should be competitive in the division again.
ECC Division III
Coach: Gary Wilcox (20th season)
Key returnees: Sr. Quinn Bond, So. Blake Chapman, Jr. Tsering Chopel, Jr. Ioana Cobena, Sr. Frank Cook, Jr. Chris Cullen, So. Mario Cueva, Jr. Zach Doiron, Sr. Chris Early, Jr. Aida Flores, So. Baylee Gagnier, Jr. Sawyer Kury, Jr. Brandon Petersen, So. Rodolfo Reyes, Sr. Mick Wynosky, Sr. Nathan Bedingfield, Jr. Derek Debbis.
Top newcomers: Sr. Somuadina Agunyego, So. Tsering Dorjee, Fr. Karla Isabella Flores, So. Tenzin Lekmon, Jr. Jack Marquand, Sr. Jared Pilkus, Jr. Danielle Rodriguez, Jr. Jeff Szankovics, Jr. Dessiray Taylor, So. Raphael Vogt.
Outlook: The Indians are coming off a tremendous 2018-19 season that included a 22-2 dual record, the ECC Division III title and a runner-up finish at the Class S state meet. Chapman (106) and Bond (126) were Class S silver medalists while Doiron (195) was a Class S place-winner. Wilcox has some holes to fill with some inexperienced wrestlers, but the pieces are in place to challenge for another Division III title and have another successful season.
Stories that may interest you
Griswold High School's Matthew DePonte was going to compete for the golf team this spring for the first time before the season was canceled. He is an ECC Division III first team all-star at tight end in football, a member of the indoor track team and was a CIAC scholar-athlete.
Catie Shannon and Sophia Jones put in a full day of running through their Norwich neighborhood on Monday and Tuesday. Shannon, 18, and Jones, 15, ran 24 miles in 24 hours.
Waterford senior pitcher Rachel Miller helped the Lancers win the CIAC Class M state title last season and earned all-state honors. She was also a captain for the volleyball team, which won its first ECC tournament title in the fall.