Tournament-style wrestling a different experience

Once February rolls around, the environment for coach Bill Maloney’s Shelton High squad will feature a lot of on-and-off waiting while competing through long days of tournament action.

On Saturday, the Gaels got a taste of that atmosphere in the annual Shelton Invitational.

“This is how the SCC tournament is, this is how the double L tournament is, and how the State Open is,” Maloney said. “It’s good that they see this controlled chaos of an environment.”

Among the teams were Amity of Woodbridge, Norwalk, Greens Farms Academy, Masuk-Monroe and Notre Dame-West Haven.

Grapplers competed in as many as five matches as they took on unfamiliar foes. Unlike in two-team meets in which wrestlers have a better idea about when they will compete — and it is just one match — tourneys require a different mindset for participants.

“They have to be listening and they have to be attentive and be ready when their name is called,” Maloney said. “Everything moves quickly and you don’t have as much time to prepare.”

Logan Re, a 138-pound wrestler from Shelton out of O’Brien Tech, who practices with the team and competes as a one-wrestler team, enjoys the challenge of staying focused throughout a lengthy time period.

“It keeps you on your toes. It keeps you watching and paying attention,” Re said.

And it doesn’t hurt that participants square off with a variety of tough counterparts.

“Tournaments are good. You get to wrestle all the guys around the state and see where you size up against them,” said Ray Weiner, a 220-pound weight division wrestler for Shelton who certainly stacked up well last year when he was second in the SCC and third in Class LL at 195 pounds.

“I like it a lot. You get a really good mindset for the sport,” said Shelton 145-pound wrestler Colin Mengold, adding that while it is a long day, wrestlers are only competing for as many as 25 or so minutes when all is said and done.

It is more of a mental game than anything.

“I think that nerves get the best of people. You just have to keep your head in the game and you can wrestle well,” Mengold said.

Sean Rago, a Shelton 132-pounder, pointed out that tournament settings are ideal for wrestlers to go over things with coaches, make adjustments and apply those tweaks while they’re fresh in their minds.

“I think tournaments like this are a good experience for all the guys. It’s a great way to learn what you have to work on,” Rago said.

The Gael grapplers have more tourneys on the docket.

They’ll be one of a handful of teams visiting Trumbull High on Saturday, Dec. 22.