Shelton High’s sixth-seeded Liam Cummings and ninth-seeded Mac Thompson overcame the odds and earned berths in this weekend’s State Open in New Haven, after they both placed fifth at the Class LL Wrestling Championships at Trumbull High on Saturday.
Cummings, a junior, finished fifth at 160 pounds with a 5-4 victory over Westhill of Stamford’s Martin Chobanyan.
Thompson, a senior, was fifth at 182 pounds after he won a 5-1 decision from Brandon Molnar from Simsbury.
“This is great competition, the toughest matches they have wrestled all year,” Gael coach Bill Maloney said. “We have Mac and Liam going to the Opens and our underclassmen performed well and got the experience they need for next season.”
Cummings (34-10) defeated 11th seed Jamie Doyle from Manchester, 5-3, on Friday night.
In the quarterfinals on Saturday morning, Cummings met third-seeded Ryan DuPuis from Southington.
Dupuis took a 4-1 lead into the final two-minute third period, where Cummings tied things at 4 with 1:04 remaining.
DuPuis escaped, but Cummings got the two-point takedown with 29 seconds left to win a 6-5 decision.
In the semifinals, Cummings met second-seeded Brandon Fulco from Trumbull, who took a 6-3 lead into the second period and advanced with a pin in 2:33.
Fulco lost by first-period fall to unbeaten Juan Garcia from team champion Danbury in the finals.
Thompson (26-12) opened on Friday with an 8-7 loss to Greenwich High’s Grant Cucchissi, the No. 8 seed.
Waiting for the Gael on Saturday morning in the consolation bracket was Stamford High’s Jonathan Spanakos.
Thompson earned the pin midway through the second period, and then took on seventh-seeded K Exum-Strong from Norwich Free Academy.
After a scoreless first period, the Wildcat took a 4-0 lead and had Thompson on his back, but the Gael executed a quick switch and pinned Exum-Strong midway through the second period.
Next to fall to Thompson was third-seeded Josh Graves from New Britain, who he pinned in 1:54 to gain the consolation semifinals.
Thompson took a 5-0 lead on Southington’s top-seeded Austin Sullivan before the Blue Knight made it 5-4 after one period.
Sullivan escaped in the second and the match was tied at 5 with two minutes remaining.
From the bottom, Thompson rolled into a reversal and a 7-5 lead before Sullivan answered in kind and got the pin call with 35 seconds remaining.
Sullivan finished fourth after losing 6-5 to fourth-seeded Calvin Williams from Hartford Public in the consolation final.
Thompson reset his clock and took on Simsbury’s sixth-seeded Brandon Molnar in the match for fifth place.
Thompson used two switches to gain a reversal after a scoreless first period and added three back points for a 5-0 lead.
In the third period, Molnar was awarded a stalling point on Thompson, who methodically rode out his four-point win.
“This is the first time I made it this far,” said Thompson, who will attend Boston University, where he may wrestle. “I first wrestled as a freshman and liked it from the first day of practice.
“Mike Frizinia wrestled in my weight class that year and in the wrestling room I went against Pat Gillen (now at the University of Virginia) so I had plenty of good guys to work against.
“I don’t watch a lot of my opponent’s matches. I just go out and wrestle my match.
“Wrestling is all about dedication and hard work. Heart can win you a lot of matches.
“Wrestling is a skill level sport. Whether you are a senior or a freshman you can excel.”
Kyle McGinnis (32-7) was seeded seventh at 113 pounds in states after an outstanding freshman campaign.
East Hartford’s Rob Rivera upended McGinnis, 6-4 in the first round on Friday, but the Gael earned a spot on Saturday’s bracket list with a 45-second pin of Simsbury’s August Savarese.
McGinnis won a 9-4 decision from eighth-seeded Jonny Nguyen in his next wrestleback.
Needing one more win to qualify for the State Open, McGinnis was edged out 4-2 by fourth-seeded Ryan Jurewicz from Manchester.
Jurewicz, who placed sixth scored an escape in the second period to take a 1-0 lead into the final stanza.
He turned McGinnis for three back points at 1:20 before the Gael switched positions and nearly had a near-fall, but Jurewicz righted himself and held on for the win.
Mike Chernesky (18-22), a senior, won a pair of matches at 138 pounds, where he was seeded 14th.
He opened with a pin in 4:42 over Bridgeport Central’s Garfield Brown on Friday before losing 8-2 to eventual third-place finisher Jacob Jones from Glastonbury.
Chernesky won an 11-0 major decision from Fairfield Prep’s John Bosken before losing 7-4 to sixth-place finisher James Leucci from Newtown.
Nick Pogascas (32-13), a junior, was seeded eighth at 145 pounds and he opened with a 6-4 decision over Stephen Briganti from Trumbull on Friday.
On Saturday in the quarterfinals, Pogascas lost by second-period fall to South Windsor’s top-seeded Casey Mitchell, who went on to win the title.
In wrestlebacks, Pogascas lost a 5-10 roll-around with Weaver’s Tracey Trice.
Senior Will Dimeo (22-17) was seeded 10th at 195 pounds and lost in the first round to William Hall of West Hartford’s Cole Souza.
He won his first wrestleback via pin in 1:11 over Greenwich’s Thomas Williams before losing by fall to Danbury’s eighth-seeded Joe Peterson.
Alex Merdinger (24-16), a junior was seeded 11th at 220 pounds. He lost by fall to fifth-place finisher Noel Cardona in the first round.
He pinned Stamford Greg Bortot in 2:33 before losing by fall to sixth-place finisher John Miolene from Trumbull.