New Canaan defeats Brien McMahon in last match
NORWALK — It came down to the last match between New Canaan and Brien McMahon.
With the former clinging to a 33-30 lead, Jack Stewart clinched his team’s victory with a pin at 285 pounds to lift New Canaan to a 39-30 FCIAC win over the Senators on Wednesday at the Kehoe-King Gymnasium.
“I was thinking I had to win,” said Stewart, a sophomore who was in the same situation last year but suffered a loss. “A couple years ago our program wasn’t good but we’re doing good this year. We’re getting a lot better.”
The Rams are off to a good start at 3-2 overall, considering the early-season road blocks they’ve had to maneuver around. They’ve had to deal with the holiday break, injuries and another long postseason run for the football team; 16 of its players also compete in wrestling.
New Canaan head coach Paul Gallo said his wrestlers still need a few weeks under their belt to get into a rhythm but if they can give an effort similar to Wednesday’s outing they’ll earn their fair share of success.
“The kids all wrestled hard,” he said. “Everybody stayed off their backs and they went out there and wrestled, which is what you need to do.”
After the first six bouts, the Rams had a 21-9 lead, highlighted by freshman standout Tyler Sung’s pin at 132 pounds and Nate Sibbett’s 7-1 decision over McMahon’s Justin Cardenas at 138. Sung is ranked fifth in the state at 126.
“He wrestled tough and listened,” McMahon head coach Joe SantaLucia said of the senior, who sports a 7-2 record.
What proved to be the Senators’ downfall, according to SantaLucia, was losing a few key matches by pin instead of by decision.
“We didn’t match up well against them (New Canaan),” he said. “I knew it was going to be a close match.”
Following a pin by Harrison Kazlauskas at 152, New Canaan had a 27-12 lead but McMahon rallied to capture the next four matches to go ahead 30-27. Felipe Silva (160) and Jeff Capone (170) earned pins during the run while freshman Jeff Cocchia (182) locked up a hard-fought 6-2 decision over Josiah Jones at 182 and Caelan Samson secured an 8-4 decision over Ryan Russo at 195.
New Canaan halted the run at 220 when Nick Kortman (10-1 record) earned a pin to put the Rams on top 33-30 prior to Stewart’s heroics.
“He’s gone from a little freshman to a big sophomore,” Gallo said of Stewart (5-2), who is in his first year as a varsity starter. “He’s big and he’s strong and now he’s wrestling hard. He’s looking to place in the FCIACs this year.”
The Senators jumped out to a 9-0 lead after the first two bouts with Holden Zerega receiving a forfeit at 106 and freshman Mikey SantaLucia taking a 9-7 victory over New Canaan’s Nick Khzouz in overtime in one of the most exciting matches of the evening. The younger SantaLucia trailed 7-5 after the first period before tying the match at 7-7 with a takedown in the second and another one three seconds into the one-minute overtime period.
“Putting pressure on him and keeping him down the whole third period was key,” Mikey SantaLucia said.
NEW CANAAN 39,
106-Holden Zerega (M) won by FFT; 113-Mikey SantaLucia (M) dec. over Nick Khzouz (NC) 9-7 (OT); 120- Luigi DeRubeis (NC) pinned Hugo Romero (M) 3:55; 126-Ben Hamilton (NC) won by FFT; 132-Tyler Sung (NC) pinned Nico Gonzalez (M) 1:03; 138-Nate Sibbett (NC) dec. over Justin Cardenas (M) 7-1; 145-Jason Martinez (M) dec. over Christian Sibbett (NC) 8-4; 152-Harrison Kazlauskas (NC) pinned Maddy Gordon (M) 2:15; 160-Felipe Silva (M) pinned Evan Reilly (NC) 59 seconds; 170-Jeff Capone (M) pinned Sergiy Babenkov (NC) 2:50; 182-Jeff Cocchia (M) dec. over Josiah Jones (NC) 6-2; 195-Caelan Samson (M) dec. over Ryan Russo (NC) 8-4; 220-Nick Kortman (NC) pinned Carlos Chacua (M) 1:46; 285-Jack Stewart (NC) pinned Tim Horton (M) 3:07. Records: NC-3- 2 (3-2 FCIAC), M-4- 2 (3-2).