Kyle McGinnis won the title at 120 pounds, while Liam Cummings took first at 170, powering host Shelton High to a fourth-place finish at the SCC Wrestling Tournament on Saturday.
Xavier High of Middletown cruised to the team title by compiling 224.0 points, capturing SCCs for the third time in a row. Inclement weather caused the cancellation of the tournament in 2013. Daniel Hand of Madison (103.5), Foran High of Milford (85), Shelton (84.5) and Amity High of Woodbridge (85) rounded out the top six.
McGinnis, a sophomore, was the top seed at 120. He controlled Xavier’s Patrick Precourt, 6-0, to claim his first conference crown.
Cummings, a senior shut out Seve Burgos of Xavier, 4-0, to pick up the title at 170. Number one seed Cummings, who improved to 44-1 overall, avenged his lone loss of the regular season — which came at the hands of Burgos.
Nick Pogacsas was runner-up at 145 pounds and Nico DiStasio placed third at 113 to round out the top finishers for the Gaels.
“It was a good day for us. We were shooting for somewhere in the top five, so top four is good,” Shelton coach Bill Maloney said. “Our two first place (finishers) wrestled to their seeds.”
The Gaels will compete in the Class LL state tournament starting on Friday and continuing on Saturday at Trumbull High.
At 170, Cummings used a first-period takedown and third-period reversal to turn aside Burgos, 4-0. He had split his previous two meetings this season with Burgos — including an overtime loss, his only setback of the year.
“I was real sour about that match,” Cummings said. “I wasn’t happy, it pushed me to work in the (wrestling) room, thinking about that and knowing I would see him probably in the finals today here.”
Cummings drew some inspiration for his title run by wearing a black Nike headband that belonged to former teammate Sean Kellett, the SCC and Class L state champion at 126 in 2012.
“He took OW (Outstanding Wrestler) here two years ago,” said Cummings of Kellett, currently wrestling in college at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. “It’s something I’ve been working for.”
In the quarterfinals, Cummings pinned Amity’s Kenny Seaton in 1:23 before earning a 1:12 fall over Chris Anthony of Guilford in the semifinals.
It was a far cry from Cummings’ first experience in SCCs back in 2011.
“My freshman year I got one match, lost a rat tail and was out,” Cummings said. “Since freshman year I’ve been slowly focusing on getting better and until now I’m at the point where I feel I can win it.”
Heading into states, Cummings will look to improve on his fifth-place finish at 160 pounds last year.
His ability to control his opponents from top position will be key heading into Class LLs.
“I’ve been riding pretty well. I kept him [Burgos] below me for most of that match,” Cummings said. “I want to work on that and that and maybe get my tilts a little better so I can score points instead of just riding out.”
After earning the top seed in his weight class for last year’s abandoned tournament, McGinnis shined in his first conference tournament.
“He continues to improve,” Maloney said. “He was the number-one seed last year… This year he proved he was number one in his weight class.”
McGinnis opened up with a 7-0 win over Fairfield Prep’s Michael Russo in the quarters. In the semis, he earned a 19-3 technical fall over Andrew Ignoto of Guilford.
He then blanked Precourt in the final to claim the title.
“The competition was definitely solid all the way through,” McGinnis said. “All three of my matches were a lot harder than a typical tournament. I like that, it makes the victory at the end so much more rewarding when you have to fight through it.”
It was culmination of a season’s worth of hard work for McGinnis, who will look to roll his momentum into the Class LL state tournament.
“It’s definitely a great feeling,” he said. “Going out there after three months of hard work, six days a week, it’s definitely rewarding knowing it paid off… It’s nice to see a growth in my skill level.”
Pogacsas, the second seed at 145, lost a 16-11 decision to Xavier’s Quinn Marino in the finals. Marino also upset the top seed, Kenny Agosto of New Haven Co-op, en route to the title.
DiStasio, a sophomore, pinned Hand’s Francis Regala in 4:40 in their third-place bout.
John Rosa, Scott Plucenik, Brett Scanlon, Alex Merdinger and Malike Malcolm also posted victories to pick up team points for Shelton.