Bill Maloney's Shelton wrestling team defeated two out of three FCIAC opponents they faced in a quad meet on Thursday afternoon at Fairfield Warde.
The Gaels started off the day with wins over Greenwich and Wilton before falling to Fairfield Warde, but not before Maloney recorded his 200th career coaching victory.
“So far, so good,” Maloney said of his 5-2 Gaels. “We lost to East Haven earlier this week and rebounded from that pretty well. We are getting the experience we need going forward, and our conditioning is very good. We own the third period.”
The Gaels got off to a strong start, defeating Greenwich by a margin of 48-22. Sophomore Robert O’Brien set the tone with an exciting victory in the 220, taking a 5-3 lead into the third period before escaping his opponent's hold and pinning him with 49 seconds left in the match. A one-point escape in the second was the only point in David Brown's heavyweight win, and 106-pounder Steven Reyes kept things going with a pin 18 seconds into the second period.
The Cardinals finally got on the board with a major decision in the 113, but the Gaels more than made up for it in the 120-pound class. Senior captain Chandler Duhaime recorded a takedown and near fall in the first thirty seconds of the match, adding another near fall to end the first frame. He chose the defensive position to open up the second frame and rolled Greenwich’s Cormac Doyle over off the whistle for an immediate reversal, then finished the job with a pin 58 seconds into the period to increase Shelton’s lead to 21-4.
Wrestling aggressively, Nathaniel Reyes took down his 126-pound opponent 45 seconds into the match and maintaining control for the rest of the period, earning the fall with nine seconds left in the frame. The Cardinals chipped away at Shelton’s lead with a 7-3 decision in the 132, but the Gaels earned the points right back with a narrow 5-4 decision by Colin Mengold in the 138-pound class.
Following a 7-4 decision for Greenwich in the 145, Shelton tacked on six more points with a pin by Nicholas Lacey in the second period of his 152-pound match. The Cardinals got them back with a pin in the 160-pound class, but Shelton followed up with a pair of pins by Anthony Rosa in the 170-pound class and Collin Scanlon in the 182. Greenwich wrapped up the contest with a pin in the 195, but Shelton’s lead was too much to overcome.
The Gaels kept things rolling with a 58-20 win over Wilton. Brown started things off with a 29-second pin in the heavyweight class before Wilton jumped ahead with a pair of victories in the lightweight matches to go on top 9-6. Duhaime made quick work of his 120-pound opponent, taking down and pinning him in just 53 seconds, but the meet remained close as Wilton won by a technical fall in the 126 and Shelton’s Andrew Cordes answered with a major decision in the 132.
The victory was the first in a string for Shelton, as 145-pound senior captain Alex Ercolani sandwiched a second-period pin between a pair of forfeits, which together took the score to 36-14. 160-pounder Delonne Sloan bided his time before making a move late in the first, which he capitalized into a pin with 23 seconds left. Rosa suffered a hard hit at the hands of his Wilton opponent and won by an injury disqualification, taking the score to 40-14.
Scanlon took a 4-0 lead into the second period of his 182-pound match, where the two opened up in neutral. He added another takedown before earning the fall with 31 seconds left. The Gaels wrapped up the meet with a quick pin by O’Brien, sealing the deal on the team victory and Maloney’s 200th win.
The Gaels’ most exciting meet of the day came at the very end, when they were edged 40-39 by Fairfield Warde, which Maloney has called a “premier program”. Shelton took an early lead when Steven Reyes took an 8-0 lead before pinning Fairfield’s Omar Khatib near the end of the second frame of his 106-pound match. Warde tied it up in the 113, but the Gaels regained the lead when Duhaime took down and pinned his 120-pound opponent in less than a minute.
Nathaniel Reyes took an early lead with a takedown a minute into his 126-pound match against Fairfield’s Noah Zuckerman and maintained control for the rest of the period. He opted for the defensive position to open up the second period and quickly worked a reversal, holding down Zuckerman for the rest of the frame and taking a 4-0 lead into the third. Zuckerman chose neutral and Reyes added a takedown, winning the decision on points by a score of 6-1 to extend Shelton’s lead to 15-6.
Warde rebounded with two consecutive pins in the 132 and 138-pound classes, putting the Mustangs on top 18-16. Fairfield’s Michael Eaton Jr. took down Ercolani in just 23 seconds, but Ercolani reversed him in a surprising turn of events and pinned the Mustang at 1:19 to put the Gaels back on top 21-18.
The score continued to seesaw as Fairfield notched a pin in the 152-pound class before Sloan took down his 160-pound opponent in just eleven seconds before securing the fall 42 seconds in. With Rosa still recovering from his earlier hit, the Gaels were forced to forfeit the 170-pound class, and a major decision in the 182 extended the Mustangs’ lead to 34-27. Warde tacked on another six points with a pin in the 195, and Shelton followed up with two first-frame pins by O’Brien in the 220 and Brown in the heavyweight. Victory was just out of reach for the Gaels, though, and Warde took the meet by the slimmest of margins to finish up the day with a 40-39 victory.