Dominant Xavier wins its second wrestling State Open championship in school history

For the second time in program history and first time since 2012, the Xavier wrestling team has been crowned State Open champion.

Xavier’s postseason run was pure dominance, conquering all opponents with little resistance, having broken records in the SCC and Class L meets.

The Falcons’ 204 points led to a landslide victory, while four-time defending champion Danbury finished second with 145 points. Simsbury finished third with 135 points and East Hartford followed with 134.5.

“Coming into this year, I didn’t know what to expect,” Xavier coach Michael Cunningham said. “They bought into the culture and expectations, and they were able to really believe in themselves and get a lot better as the year went on. I’m proud of these guys, they did a great job.”

Nine Xavier wrestlers placed within the top six in their weight classes to earn medals, including two first-place finishes, a second-place finish and two in third place.

The nine Xavier qualifiers for New Englands will be the most in program history, surpassing the previous high of four qualifiers.

The Falcons’ two first-place finishers were Jackson Heslin (120) and Thomas Lunt (220).

“We made history,” Heslin said. “This is the second time we’ve ever won it, and we were close to the team record at the State Opens. It has been awesome being a part of this team.”

Heslin was a champion at the SCC meet, Class L meet and now completes the trifecta with his Open championship.

“Jackson had a great year and has won in all the big tournaments,” Cunningham said. “He’s a freshman, the first in Xavier history to win a State Open title.”

Lunt was also a champion in all three postseason meets, and caps off a season in which he was arguably the most improved wrestler in the state from 2020 to now.

“Thomas Lunt barely won any matches two years ago as a 182-pounder,” Cunningham said. “Now he comes back two years later and wins the Open. It’s crazy, I’m so proud of him. He got on a roll, he has a lot of confidence and he has done a great job.”

Second-place team Danbury had six total wrestlers medal, with Kai O’Dell as the team’s lone champion.

“Coming into this year, I hadn’t won a state title yet,” O’Dell said. “Junior year got taken away, so senior (year), it meant a lot to me that I still didn’t have a State Open title. I trained all year for it and it feels great to be a winner.”

O’Dell made it to the 113-pound final in 2020, where he lost and was forced to wait two years for his shot at redemption.

“It’s one thing being out on this stage,” O’Dell said. “It’s another thing to be out on this stage and win. All I kept thinking about was taking second in 2020 and how awful that felt. It motivated me and pushed me to keep working harder.”

O’Dell was one of a few wrestlers who were vindicated after difficult losses in 2020 and a perhaps even more difficult year off.

In 2020, Fairfield Warde’s Will Ebert was defeated in the finals against James Lunt in the 145-pound bracket. This year at 170 pounds, the Class LL most outstanding wrestler won by major decision.

“I was a finalist last year, but I didn’t win,” Ebert said. “This year going into the finals I was a little bit calmer and more prepared to go out. It was a Class LL state final rematch, so I knew I could win. I just had to go out and wrestle hard.”

New Milford’s Evan Lindner also completed a storybook senior season. After being recognized for having the most outstanding career in the SWC, he proceeded to win the SWC and Class LL tournaments.

“My brother won two Open titles and with last year being canceled I’ve been working,” Lindner said. “It felt great to finally see these results after two years.”

Lindner pinned Killingly’s Kaden Ware to earn his first State Open title in his final chance.

“I’m feeling great, it was a crazy match, with me down three going into the last period,” Lindner said. “I knew I had to keep moving and it ended up working out with 10 seconds left. I’ll take it.”

Third-place Simsbury boasted the most individual champions, with three all winning in consecutive matches.

John Mairano won at 145 pounds after finishing fourth at 138 pounds in 2020; Zach Johns won at 152 pounds and was named the Most Outstanding wrestler of the tournament after not allowing any of his four opponents to register a point against him; and Chad Mairano was crowned the 160-pound champion by decision.

State Open wrestling

Team results: 1 Xavier 204 ; 2 Danbury 145; 3 Simsbury 135; 4 East Hartford 134; 5 Fairfield Warde 109; 6 Haddam-Killingworth 84; 7 Killingly 71.5; 8 Norwalk 71; 9 New Fairfield 68; 10 Fairfield Prep 66; 11 Trumbull 63; 12 Guilford 56; 13 Rham 54; 14 New Milford 52; 15 Ridgefield 51.5; 16 Branford 50; 17 Newtown 48; 18 Bunnell 47; 19 Southington 42.5; 20 Shelton 41; 21 Suffield/Windsor Locks 38; 22 Montville 37; 23 Nonnewaug 35; 23 Stratford 35; 25 Berlin 33; 25 Ledyard 33; 27 Waterford 30; 28 Avon 29; 29 Canton 27.5; 30 Brookfield 26; 30 Foran 26; 32 Bristol Central 22; 33 Derby/Oxford/Holy Cross 20; 34 Pomperaug 18.5; 35 Maloney 18; 36 Greenwich 17; 37 Norwich Free Academy 16.5; 38 Plainville 16; 39 Daniel Hand 15; 39 Fairfield Ludlowe 15; 39 Glastonbury 15; 39 New Canaan 15; 43 Seymour 14; Windham 14; 45 Bacon Academy 13; 46 Manchester 12; 47 Brien McMahon 11.5; 48 Bristol Eastern 11; 48 Conard 11; 48 Staples 11; 51 EO Smith 10; 51 Middletown 10; 51 New London 10; 54 Platt 9; 54 Weston 9; 56 East Lyme/Norwich Tech 8; 56 Farmington 8; 56 Portland 8; 56 Stafford 8; 60 Ellis Tech 7; 60 Hall 7; 60 New Britain 7; 63 Morgan 6; 63 Somers 6; 63 Wethersfield 6; 66 Cromwell 5; 66 Granby 5; 66 South Windsor 5; 69 Bethel 4; 69 Griswold/Wheeler 4; 69 Joel Barlow 4; 69 Jonathan Law 4; 69 New Haven 4; 69 Notre Dame-West Haven 4; 69 Rocky Hill 4; 69 Woodland 4; 77 Old Lyme 3; 78 East Haven 2; 78 Lyman Mem/Windham Tech 2;

Individual results

106 LBS: 1st Joe Mahoney (New Fairfield) DEC Isaac Quiles (East Hartford), 12-6; 3rd Raekwon Shabazz (Xavier) F Deydon Soto (Danbury), 3:55; 5th Mason Arborio (Berlin) MD Ben Fournier (Rham), 12-4; 113 LBS: 1st Isaiah Adams (Avon) DEC Maximus Morse (Xavier), 8-1; 3rd Dominick Spadaro (Fairfield Warde) F Ethan Wright (Haddam-Killingworth), 2:01; 5th Dominic Barrella (Ridgefield) MD Graham Ziperstein (Shelton), 10-2; 120 LBS: 1st Jackson Heslin (Xavier) DEC Ethan Titus (Canton), 4-1; 3rd William Hamilton (Bristol Central) TF Phoenix Gardella (Norwalk), 23-7 4:42; 5th Ben Zuckerman (Fairfield Warde) F Antonio Madero (Foran), 1:33; 126 LBS: 1st Evan Lindner (New Milford) F Kaden Ware (Killingly), 6:00; 3rd Matthew Carrozza (Brookfield) DEC Kyle Levesque (Xavier), 6-4; 5th Josh Howard (Southington) F Nathan Blaha (Ridgefield), 1:43; 132 LBS: 1st Connor Doran (Ledyard) F William Smith (Fairfield Prep), 3:49; 3rd Cael Finn (Simsbury) F Anthony Basile (Xavier), 2:20; 5th Jesse Defonce (Danbury) FOR Benjamin Gorr (Southington), 0-0; 138 LBS: 1st Kai O’Dell (Danbury) MD Blake Chapman (Montville), 16-5; 3rd Dylan Levesque (Xavier) DEC Jaeckez Mendez (East Hartford), 7-4; 5th Thomas Bock (New Fairfield) MD Marc Maurath (Newtown), 12-0; 145 LBS: 1st John Mairano (Simsbury) DEC Jack Richardson (Killingly), 5-3; 3rd Logan Kovacs (Danbury) TF Joseph Kennedy (Plainville), 15-0 3:30; 5th Maximus Piel (New Milford) DEC Ghassan Saleh (Suffield/Windsor Locks), 8-3; 152 LBS: 1st Zach Johns (Simsbury) F Mason Concascia (Waterford), 4:26; 3rd Lucas Coleman (Fairfield Warde) DEC Benjamin Williams (Haddam-Killingworth), 7-4; 5th Colin Loria (Xavier) F Lucas Ferreira (Ridgefield), 0:36; 160 LBS: 1st Chad Mairano (Simsbury) DEC Joshua Nieroda (Suffield/Windsor Locks), 5-3; 3rd Fisher Stites (Newtown) DEC Jeremy Devine (Rham), 5-3; 5th Edward Barlage (Guilford) DEC Alexander Marshall (Bristol Eastern), 4-2 SV; 170 LBS: 1st William Ebert (Fairfield Warde) MD Xavier Quiles (East Hartford), 17-3; 3rd Jack Wendel (Nonnewaug) F Ryan Mclaughlin (Bunnell), 0:47; 5th Cole Snider (Branford) DEC Jesse Baldwin (Middletown), 7-2; 182 LBS: 1st Connor Smith (Fairfield Prep) F Sammy Montovani (East Hartford), 2:22; 3rd Ryan Gilchrist (Norwalk) DEC Ronan Moynihan (Xavier), 7-6; 5th Anthony Deicicchi (Seymour) F Corbin Milne (Trumbull), 2:46; 195 LBS: 1st Christopher Murphy (Guilford) F Samuel Young (Haddam-Killingworth), 4:52; 3rd Brendan Gilchrist (Norwalk) F Soren Rief (Killingly), 1:59; 5th Aethan Munden (Trumbull) F Jackson Oliver (Staples), 0:31; 220 LBS: 1st Thomas Lunt (Xavier) DEC James Duhancik (Stratford), 9-6; 3rd Brandon Toscano (Bunnell) DEC Jhonnyel Ramirez (Danbury), 5-1; 5th Lukas Cylwik (Trumbull) DEC Michael Reddick (Maloney), 6-1; 285 LBS: 1st Matt Weiner (Shelton) F Doug Traynor (New Fairfield), 1:47; 3rd Nuh Ajdinoski (Danbury) F Don Shivas (Derby/Oxford/Holy Cross), 3:29; 5th Begench benny Kulyyev (Simsbury) F Malachi Mercer-robinson (Fairfield Prep), 1:30