FCIAC’s winter teams were faring well before postseason ended early

When the final two weeks of 2019-20 winter high school sports season were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, what was assured was that four of the eight sports sanctioned by the CIAC had teams win state championships and the other four sports were unable to finish their state tournaments or championship meets.

The winter sports of girls indoor track and field, boys indoor track and field, wrestling and girls gymnastics had teams crowned state champions in state class and State Open championship meets.

The CIAC-sanctioned sports of girls basketball, boys basketball, wrestling and boys ice hockey were unable to complete their respective state tournaments while the state class and State Open championship meets in boys swimming and diving were also cancelled.

The Danbury High School wrestling team, a perennial powerhouse for the last several decades since the late-1980s, was the one FCIAC team which won a state title.

Coach Ricky Shook’s Hatters won two state championships, in fact, as they swept the CIAC State Class LL Wrestling Tournament and State Open Wrestling Tournament for the fourth consecutive year.

Danbury’s senior 138-pounder Ryan Jack was selected the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler when he won his fourth straight State Open championship to lead the Hatters to the team title on Feb. 29. They scored 193 points while Fairfield Warde made it a 1-2 finish for the FCIAC as coach Jason Shaughnessy’s runner-up Mustangs totaled 146 points, 19 more than third-place Xavier (127).

Jack won his third New England individual championship a week later to lead Danbury to its third New England team title in the last four years. Jack became the second grappler in state history to win three New England championships and that earned him immediate induction into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Jack moved up two weight classes this year from last year. He burst upon the scene three years ago as a fabulous freshman who won his first State Open in the lightest weight class of 106 pounds. He was the 120-pound champ as a sophomore and last year Jack won the 126-pound crown.

New Canaan’s Tyler Sung was another FCIAC wrestler who had four great years at the State Open. Sung was the 152-pound weight class champion this year after having won the 145-pound crown as a junior. He was a State Open runner-up as a 126-pound freshman and as a 138-pound sophomore.

The sport of gymnastics was the final winter sport which got to conclude its CIAC-sanctioned state championship meets. A trio of FCIAC teams each placed second in their respective state class championship meets.

Fairfield Ludlowe placed second in the CIAC Class L Gymnastics Championships behind Southington, which would win the State Open one week later.

Wilton was runner-up in the Class M meet while St. Joseph placed second in the Class S meet.

St. Joseph had the highest finish among conference teams at the State Open as the Cadets finished third behind champion Southington and runner-up Woodstock Academy on March 7.

Three days later, on March 10, the CIAC announced the cancellation of the remainder of the high school winter sports seasons.

The FCIAC has had a long successful run of collecting many state championships in indoor track and field. But this was the first time ever – since 1989 when the CIAC first conducted both boys and girls championship meets – that neither a boys or girls conference track team won a state championship of any sort.

The Ridgefield boys placed second in the Class LL meet for the highest finish of any FCIAC team this year.

The state class tournaments in girls basketball had many games played while getting through the quarterfinal rounds. Staples and Greenwich each won Class LL quarterfinal games on March 9 and were scheduled to have a March 13 semifinal showdown with each other.

The Division I, Division III, and Division V boys basketball tournaments just began with first round games on March 9 while the Division II and Division IV tournaments were supposed to begin the next day on that March 10 date when the cancellation announcement occurred.

Similarly, the Division II and Division III boys ice hockey tournaments commenced with first round games on March 9 while the Division I tourney was to get underway on that March 10 cancellation date.

Hours after the CIAC canceled the remainder of its winter postseason, the Connecticut High School Girls Hockey Coaches Association (CHSGHA) followed suit, canceling the semifinals and final of its tournament. Three FCIAC teams had reached the semifinals, including defending state champion New Canaan, which was set to play Simsbury, along with this year’s FCIAC champion Darien, and Greenwich, who were going to meet in the other semifinal game.

Greenwich and a few other FCIAC boys swimming and diving teams were unable to continue their traditional success in state championship meets. Greenwich had swept the Class LL and State Open team titles the previous seven straight years from 2013-19.

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