Warde wins FCIAC wrestling championship, ending Danbury's 13-year reign

NEW CANAAN — Warde wrestling coach Jason Shaughnessy called it “14 strong.”

Senior Nehemias Pettway said it was “grit from the whole team.”

Whatever the case, it certainly was historic.

For the first time in 13 years and just the second time since 1987, FCIAC wrestling has crowned a champion other than Danbury, as Warde claimed the conference title Saturday in New Canaan.

The Mustangs, who had individual championships from Pettway at 220 pounds and Owen Sheiman at 113, scored 216 points and had the meet wrapped up by the start of the weight class finals.

Danbury scored 184 and finished as the runner-up, despite going an impressive 5-for-5 in the finals. Ludlowe scored 169.5 and finished third, followed by Trumbull (156) in fourth and Norwalk (154) in fifth.

Warde, which has been the runner-up in 10 of the last 15 tournaments, finished just 4.5 points behind the Hatters last winter. This year, the Mustangs had a wrestler on the podium in every weight class.

“What we’ve been preaching all week is 14 strong,” Shaugnessy said. “The goal in this tournament was 14 kids scoring points and that’s what we did. We won close matches, we won tough matches, we pinned a lot of kids, and a lot of kids wrestled as good as or better than they’re capable of.”

“We knew coming into FCIAC, it was going to be tough,” Pettway said. “We had some adversity this week with Ludlowe, so we came into this with confidence but knowing it was going to be hard beating Danbury.

“We haven’t won this since 2010 and it was really just grit from the whole team. It’s all 14. All 14 contributed points.”

The Mustangs were also bouncing back from a dramatic 36-33 loss to Ludlowe for the FCIAC regular-season title on Tuesday.

The Hatters, who had won 34 of the last 35 league titles, had a tremendous final round, going 5-for-5 in championship matches. Danbury has been battling some injuries during the past few weeks, but still managed to put nine on the podium.

“It’s always great to end on a note like that,” Danbury coach Mike Silvestri said. “We had a disappointing start, but honestly, the kids wrestled really hard, so it was a hard-earned second place. Finishing out 5-for-5 is a great feeling. What they did in the finals is not surprising to anyone that’s been following us. They worked hard and they deserve this.”

Norwalk had three champions, Ludlowe had two, and Ridgefield, Brien McMahon and Wilton each had one.

The Mustangs had five finalists and Pettway gave them their first individual championship by pinning Trumbull’s Mike Gianetti at the 1:40 mark at 220 pounds. Last season, Pettway was runner-up in that weight class.

“Nemo has been utterly dominant this year,’ Shaughnessy said. “He’s had a phenomenal year. Kids that gave him tough matches (in the past), he’s just blowing through. We’re really excited about what he can do to finish up his season.”

Warde’s Owen Sheiman, also a runner-up last year, won the 113-pound weight class with an 8-4 decision over McMahon’s Calli Gilchrist. Gilchrist is the first female wrestler to reach an FCIAC final in a federation weight class.

For the Hatters, Nuh Ajdinoski pinned Trumbull’s Lukas Cylwik with eight seconds remaining in the heavyweight match and earned Most Outstanding Wrestler honors for the upper weights.

At 138, Danbury’s Defonce defeated Norwalk’s Nick Fatone 4-2 in a rematch of last year’s 132-pound final, won by Fatone.

Also for Danbury, Pote repeated as the 106-pound champ 10-0 over St. Joseph’s Zachary Brzoiska; Dom Iaquinto edged Ridgefield’s Andery Kosygin 1-0 at 182; and Anthony Valenzuela pinned Zachary Matera of Trumbull in 51 seconds at 99 pounds.

Norwalk had a one-two punch with the Gilchrist twins. Ryan pinned Trumbull’s Warren Little in 5:51 at 170 pounds, and Brendan defeated Trumbull’s Aethan Munden 5-1 at 195.

Both said they were more nervous watching from the sidelines than in their actual matches.

“It’s tougher watching him wrestle definitely,” Brendan said with a smile. “I get so nervous. I’m saying you should’ve shot here or you should’ve done this. At the end of the day, he did a great job. That just motivates me to win.”

“During my match, I’m focused and my emotions aren’t all riled up,” Ryan said. “In my match, I can actually do something about it; in his match, I’m sitting there all nervous and stressed out, like don’t do this and don’t do that. But he came out on top and I’m happy for him.

“It’s definitely a wonderful experience and I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone else.”

The Bears’ Phoenix Gardella decisioned Warde’s Dominick Spadaro 6-4 in overtime to win at 126 and was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Wrestler of the lower weight classes.

Ludlowe had two champions: Dylan Sherman earned his second FCIAC title by defeating Warde’s Jack Dean 8-6 at 132, and Donell Young pinned New Canaan’s Cael Wilderman in 3:42 at 152.

Ridgefield’s Dominic Barrella, who won at 113 last year, moved up a weight class to 120 and defeated Warde’s Damien Gonzalez 14-1.

Brien McMahon’s Zavier Hernandez pinned New Canaan’s Tucker Milligan in 59 seconds to win at 145; and Wilton’s Jaden Seabrook pinned Ludlowe’s Jeffrey Hutzelmann in 2:53 to win at 160.

David.Stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports

FCIAC Tournament

at New Canaan

Team scores: 1 Warde 216, 2 Danbury 184, 3 Ludlowe 169.5, 4 Trumbull 156, 5 Norwalk 154, 6 Ridgefield 118.5, 7 New Canaan 114.5, 8 Brien McMahon 76, 9 Staples 74, 10 Greenwich 64.5, 11 St. Joseph 54.5, 12 Stamford 53, 13 Wilton 46, 14 Darien 33, 15 Westhill 22.

Individual results

Most Outstanding Wrestler (lower weights): Phoenix Gardella, Norwalk

Most Outstanding Wrestler (upper weights): Nuh Ajdinoksi, Danbury

99 LBS

1st: Anthony Valenzuela (Danbury) pinned Zachary Matera (Trumbull), 0:51

3rd: Andres Bernal Mendoza (Fairfield Warde) pinned Jude Grammatico (Fairfield Warde), 4:29

5th: Joshua Ginsburg (Staples) pinned Christian Bernal Mendoza (Fairfield Warde), 4:52

106 LBS

1st: Cristian Pote (Danbury) major dec. Zachary Brzoska (St Joseph), 10-0

3rd: Jack Francis (Staples) dec. Samantha Yap (Stamford), 3-0

5th: Oscar Rodriquez (Trumbull) pinned Boone Henry (Fairfield Warde), 3:51

113 LBS

1st: Owen Sheiman (Fairfield Warde) dec. Calli Gilchrist (Brien McMahon), 8-4

3rd: Ryan Laing (Norwalk) won by forfeit Elijah Kelly (Fairfield Ludlowe)

5th: Blake Watkins (Staples) pinned Frank Bear (Stamford), 2:12

120 LBS

1st: Dominic Barrella (Ridgefield) major dec. Damien Gonzalez (Fairfield Warde), 14-1

3rd: Micah Kelly (Fairfield Ludlowe) pinned Victor Velez (Danbury), 3:57

5th: Shane Ryan (Trumbull) pinned Isaac Yap (Stamford), 4:13

126 LBS

1st: Phoenix Gardella (Norwalk) dec. Dominick Spadaro (Fairfield Warde), 6-4 SV

3rd: John Carrozza (Ridgefield) dec. Asaiah Baez (Brien McMahon), 1-0 SV

5th: Dhruv Khanna (Westhill) dec. Ibrahim Kadri (Fairfield Ludlowe), 12-6

132 LBS

1st: Dylan Sherman (Fairfield Ludlowe) dec. Jack Dean (Fairfield Warde), 8-6

3rd: Trey Kaupp (New Canaan) dec. Leo Moore (Ridgefield), 6-2

5th: Matthew Morehouse (Danbury) pinned Luke Haskell (Brien McMahon), 3:47

138 LBS

1st: Jesse Defonce (Danbury) dec. Nick Fatone (Norwalk), 4-2

3rd: Victor Petkov (Ridgefield) major dec. John Maroney (St Joseph), 12-0

5th: Thomas Andruss (Greenwich) pinned Joey Fratino (Fairfield Warde), 1:36

145 LBS

1st: Zavier Hernandez (Brien McMahon) pinned Tucker Milligan (New Canaan), 0:59

3rd: James Dean (Fairfield Warde) pinned Lorenzo Lanzilli (Ridgefield), 1:28

5th: Jelani Hampton (Norwalk) dec. Jaret Zielinski (Trumbull), 9-4

152 LBS

1st: Donell Young (Fairfield Ludlowe) pinned Cael Wilderman (New Canaan), 3:42

3rd: Sam Lapham (Trumbull) dec. Liam Pearsall (Wilton), 10-4

5th: Austin Rasmussen (Fairfield Warde) pinned Rylan Alves (Greenwich), 0:49

160 LBS

1st: Jaden Seabrook (Wilton) pinned Jeffrey Hutzelmann (Fairfield Ludlowe), 2:53

3rd: Teddy Goetz (New Canaan) major dec. Cole Grenier (Fairfield Warde), 8-0

5th: Lucas Rosen (Staples) dec. Alex Sparks-Bakota (Trumbull), 2-1

170 LBS

1st: Ryan Gilchrist (Norwalk) pinned Warren Little (Trumbull), 5:51

3rd: Luke Raisanen (Fairfield Ludlowe) pinned Ian Bertot (Fairfield Warde), 1:34

5th: Dylan Amaswache (New Canaan) default Gavin Piersol (Darien), 2-0 0:43

182 LBS

1st: Dominic Iaquinto (Danbury) dec. Andrey Kosygin (Ridgefield), 1-0

3rd: Sebastian Guzman (Fairfield Ludlowe) dec. Isiah Dominguez (Norwalk), 8-4

5th: Dashiell Ross (Darien) pinned Braden McDermott (Trumbull), 0:30

195 LBS

1st: Brendan Gilchrist (Norwalk) dec. Aethan Munden (Trumbull), 5-1

3rd: Daniel Craig (Danbury) dec. Jackson Oliver (Staples), 6-2

5th: Gilbert Clay (New Canaan) pinned Colin Falla (Greenwich), 0:33

220 LBS

1st: Nehemias Pettway (Fairfield Warde) pinned Mike Gianetti (Trumbull), 1:40

3rd: Jhonnyel Ramirez (Danbury) dec. Brian Seiler (Fairfield Ludlowe), 5-3

5th: Andrew Passaretti (Darien) pinned Talil Gray (Stamford), 3:27

285 LBS

1st: Nuh Ajdinoski (Danbury) pinned Lukas Cylwik (Trumbull), 5:52

3rd: Andrew Falla (Greenwich) pinned Lucas Kellogg (St Joseph), 0:19

5th: Woodensley Blaise (Westhill) pinned Matt Pastore (Fairfield Warde), 2:11