Chronicle Staff Reports
GROTON â Heading into the Eastern Connecticut Conference wrestling tournament at Fitch High School, Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech coach Brandon Strout talked with his group about being overlooked.
The Bulldogs had fared well against several of the top teams in the state frequently ranked in the Connecticut Sports On-line state coaches poll in various invitational tournaments and dual match-ups, but felt like they were not being given much respect.
âI told them, they had an opportunity to prove all the doubters and status-quo voters wrong,â Strout said in an e-mail to the Chronicle on Sunday afternoon. âIt was an opportunity to show everyone how great you are.â
Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech did just that, finishing third overall, its highest finish ever at the ECC tournament (169 points) with four individuals advancing to the finals with nine place finishers in the 14 weight classes.
Leading the way was senior Mason LaFlam, who repeated as champion at 170 pounds, improving to 29-1 overall as the top seed won the title with a 5-2 victory over No. 2 seed Derek Turner (Killingly).
âMason winning an ECC title for the second time is part of the process of what we do every day âŚ we work hard,â Strout said. âHe doesnât get any easy matches and we force him to up his level any time we can both in practice and in all of our dual meets. Turner is very tough and, earlier this season, both matches against him were decided by two points or less.â
Jackson Archer (126), Jared Swett (138) and Joe Reihl (195) all finished second for Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech with Ryan Powers (152) placing third and Gabe Samaha (160) and Mike OâConnell (285) each taking fifth.
âWe have 23 student-athletes that come to practice every day, have fun and push each other,â Strout said. âThey get better at the end of the year and it shows in how theyâre wrestling.â
Windham placed seventh overall (115 points) with a pair of individual champions in Sebastien Stultz (126) and Jaden Malave (285).
Stultz (33-4), the No. 2 seed, won by decision over top-seeded Archer (7-3) while Malave (31-3) won in overtime, 3-2, over No. 1 seed Richard Mullaney of Ledyard. Malave, the No. 3 seed, advanced to the championship round with a 1-0 victory over St. Bernardâs Roark Ryan.
Killingly won the team title with a narrow 203.5-203 victory over Montville.
This weekend the ECC will be well-represented at the Class S state championship meet hosted by Windham. Lyman Memorial-Windham Tech is in Class S this season for the first time ever after competing in Class M since the existence of the co-operative program in 2011. Joining the Bulldogs in pursuit of the team title includes Montville, Windham, Canton (NCCC champion) and Gilbert (Berkshire League champion).
At the North Central Connecticut Conference championship at Matthew J. Hurlock Gymnasium, Coventry (sixth place â 41 points) had two first-place finishers in top seeds Kacper Proczak (132) and John Vignone (182).
Proczak won by pin-fall over Suffieldâs Matthew Raine with six seconds left in the third period.
There were some anxious moments as Proczak was thrown to his back in the third period before recording a reversal that led to the eventual pin.
âAfter Kacper won he said to me that it was getting really panicked out there for him and I replied back, âYeah, me tooâ.â Coventry athletic director Patrick Cox said as he was helping out on Saturday afternoon with head coach Eric Gibson not in attendance due to illness.
Assistant coaches Steve German, Caleb Pehody and Steve Merlino also were in charge of the team during the NCCC meet.
Vignone was in control for the majority of his match that ended with a 7-4 decision over Cantonâs James Pelehach.
In Berlin, at the first-ever Central Connecticut Conference championship, E.O. Smith senior Isaiah Rivera won the 182-pound title over Ben Stratton (Platt-Meriden), who was unable to compete in the championship match due to an injury suffered earlier in the day.
Nick Richardson placed third (145) and Quin Rogers (126) was fifth for the Panthers, who were 12th overall (60 points).
RHAM was 17th (55 points) with Noah Silk finishing third at 160.
Senior Jack Turco (18 points) opened the overtime with a 3-point basket and RHAM shot 10-of-14 from the foul line in the 4-minute extra session to end a 7-game losing streak with a 70-63 non-league victory over Bacon Academy on Senior Night.
Jack Salan was the high man for the Sachems (3-14) with 19 points.
Jared Smith led all scorers with 24 points, including a 3-point shot with 11 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter that tied the game at 53-all as the Bobcats (10-8) erased a 5-point deficit in the final minute.
In East Haddam, David Lopez Jr. had 19 points, nine assists and four steals as Lyman Memorial rolled to a 55-32 victory over Hale Ray.
In Bolton, Chris Prior (18 points) scored seven points during a pair of overtimes and Coventry held on for a 59-57 victory in the NCCC match-up.
J.P. Roy also scored 18 points and Ben Liptrap had eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter and overtime for the Patriots (4-13 overall, 3-11 NCCC).
Zack Dunnack added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs (7-9).
In South Windsor, Will Evans scored eight points and Jack Neumuth had seven for E.O. Smith (9-8) in a 51-33 CCC inter-division loss to the Bobcats (7-10).
Haley Tompkins recorded a double-double (14 points, 14 rebounds) and also had six steals as Lyman Memorial dropped a 44-33 non-league decision at Old Lyme.
Sidney Pankowski finished with eight points for the Bulldogs (12-8).
Lyman Memorial will begin play in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II tournament on Thursday. Paring information will be released later this week.
In Bristol, Anna Barry led three players in double-figures with 16 points as RHAM downed Bristol Eastern, 67-43, in a CCC inter-division match-up.
Gretchen Kron added 12 points while Jaclyn Santella scored 10 points for the Sachems (18-1), who pulled away in the third quarter while out-scoring the Lancers (6-13) by a 22-6 margin to open up a 56-34 lead and extend their winning streak to seven consecutive games.
RHAM wraps up its regular season tonight against Enfield on Senior Night in a CCC Patriot East Division game. The Raiders (16-3) are the only team to defeat RHAM this season â 58-50 on January 19.
In Bolton, Sophia Mansella (7 points) and Phoebe White (5 points) paced Coventry (4-14 overall, 2-12 league) in a 54-22 NCCC loss to Bolton.
Ross Lennon scored for E.O. Smith-Tolland in a 2-1 non-league loss to North Branford on Saturday afternoon at the University of Connecticutâs Freitas Ice Forum.
Lennon gave the Bucks (6-9-1) a 1-0 lead with 21 seconds remaining in the first period, 1-timing a shot off a pass following a face-off win by Matt Abery.
E.O. Smith-Tolland also held a commanding 38-17 edge in shots but was unable to knock in an equalizing goal past Ryan Lovelace (37 saves) after the Thunderbirds (11-3) scored twice in a span of one minute in the second period on goals by Nick Barrett (breakaway) and Brendan Dupuis (power play).