Wrestling: Wilton fourth at Ridgefield Challenge; Rende and Zeyher win titles
The Wilton High wrestling team might have turned in the best day in program history on Saturday at the annual Ridgefield Challenge.
The Warriors had four finalists and two champions, and finished fourth in the team standings.
To put those figures in perspective, Wilton over the tournament’s previous 17 years had a combined total of eight finalists and three champs, and had never placed higher than 12th.
The Warriors finished only behind out-of-state powers St. Anthony’s (N.Y.), Coventry (R.I) and Monroe-Woodbury (N.Y.), beating all 10 other Connecticut teams at the tournament.
Senior Nick Rende made it to the finals for the third straight year and won his second Ridgefield Challenge title with a convincing 9-4 decision over Mason Clarke of Coventry in the finals at 126 pounds. He also won the tournament in 2016.
Rende was 4-0 with two pins on the day. He won a dramatic 3-2 overtime decision in the semifinals over Tyler Albis of John Jay East Fishkill (N.Y.), after forcing overtime with an escape in the final second of the third period to tie the match.
Rende was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler.
Senior Zach Zeyher also had a day to remember, winning the title at 170 pounds after finishing second at the Challenge last year. He won the championship match 1-0 over Adam Hendrick of Daniel Hand, scoring the match’s only point on an escape in the second period.
Zeyher was 3-0 with a pin for the day, which also saw him notch his 100th career win in the Ridgefield gym where he started his wrestling career in the third grade as a member of the Ridgefield Raptors youth wrestling team.
Wilton also got second-place showings from Travis Longo and Jacob Robb.
At 106 pounds, Longo, a junior, advanced to the finals with a pin and 11-0 major decision over Jason Salton of John Jay Cross River (N.Y.). In the finals, he lost to Joziah Fry of Coventry, 6-4, in what was voted the best finals match of the day. The match was tied 2-2 after two periods, and was 4-3 late in the match when Fry got a takedown.
Robb, a senior, lost in the finals at 182 pounds to Andrew Nanai of Greenwich, who won by pin at 3:54. Robb had advanced with two first-period pins, including a pin in 30 seconds in the semifinals.
Wilton's other place winner was freshman Max Mannino, who was third at 98 pounds. Mannino was 3-1 with three pins, including a pin of Ridgefield’s Spencer Carlon at 2:10 in the third-place match.
Also scoring points for the Warriors were Finn McGovern, who was 2-2 with a pin at 120 pounds; Trey Harris, who was 1-2 with a pin at 132; and Seth Warren, who was 1-2 with a pin at 152.