Fairfield Warde’s superb senior wrestler Will Ebert certainly put the icing on the cake of what was a fantastic career.
Ebert was simply dominant when he won the 170-pound weight class championship at the 2022 New England Wrestling Championships at the Providence Career and Technical Academy on March 5.
That capped off a Grand Slam season and highlighted the achievements of many wrestlers from the FCIAC in the postseason championship tournaments.
It was the proverbial Grand Slam for Ebert in that he was the 170-pound champion at FCIAC, state Class LL, State Open and New England championship tournaments.
Out of the 14 weight classes at the New England Championships, Ebert was the only champion from the FCIAC and one of three from Connecticut.
Ebert pinned one opponent and then convincingly shut out a pair of state champions in the semifinal and championship rounds. Ebert secured his New England championship with 9-0 victory over Maine state champion Jackson Sutherland from Mattanawcook Academy (Maine) after he advanced to the final with an 8-0 semifinal victory over Vermont state champ Gil Stawinski of Essex.
This season was especially gratifying for Ebert and his fellow grapplers because wrestling and indoor track and field were the only high school winter sports which had no competition at all last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ebert won FCIAC and state Class LL championships and was runner-up at the State Open two years ago as a 145-pound sophomore.
Danbury seniors Kai O’Dell and Logan Kovacs both had superb seasons to help the dynastic Hatters maintain their usual standard of excellence.
Danbury won its 11th consecutive FCIAC team championship and its 34th out of the last 35 seasons. The Hatters won 23 straight from 1987-2009 until Fairfield Warde dethroned them in 2010. This year Danbury won by just 4.5 points over Fairfield Warde. Danbury scored 225.5 points and Warde had 221.
Danbury was the Class LL team co-champion, having tied for first with East Hartford, and runner-up to Xavier in the State Open. Danbury had won four straight State Open championships from 2017-20.
O’Dell was a Triple Crown winner in his 138-pound class. After he won FCIAC and state Class LL championships, he won the State Open impressively with a 16-5 major decision over Montville’s Blake Chapman. O’Dell then won the consolation final to place third at the New England championships. O’Dell won FCIAC and state Class LL titles and was a State Open runner-up as a 113-pound sophomore in 2020.
Kovacs was the FCIAC and Class LL 145-pound champion who then placed third at the State Open and fifth at the New Englands.
There were eight more Hatters in coach Ricky Shook’s deep lineup who either won titles or placed high during the postseason.
Also for Danbury: Nuh Ajdinoski (285 pounds) was FCIAC runner-up, Class LL champion and third at the State Open; Jesse Defonce (132) placed second in the FCIAC, third in Class LL and fifth at State Open; Deydon Soto (106) was runner-up in Class LL and fourth at State Open; Jhonnyel Ramirez was fourth at Class LL and State Open; Dominic Iaquinto (182) was a Class LL champion; Christian Pote (106) was FCIAC champion; Liam Byrne (152) placed third and Daniel Craig (195) was sixth at the Class LL tourney.
In addition to Ebert, Fairfield Warde coach Jason Shaughnessy had six more of his Mustangs have significant postseason success.
Also for Warde: Lucas Coleman was the 152-pound FCIAC and Class LL champion and third at the State Open; Ben Zuckerman (120 pounds) was a Class LL champ and then he placed fifth at both the State Open and New Englands; Dominick Spadaro (113) was an FCIAC and Class LL runner-up and third at the State Open; Nehemias Pettway was second at the conference and Class LL tournaments; Owen Sheiman placed second in the FCIAC and third at Class LL; and Jeremy Brault (145) took third at Class LL.
Trumbull 195-pounder Aethan Munden and 220-pounder Lukas Cylwik each won FCIAC and Class LL championships and placed fifth at the State Open.
Also for Trumbull: Corbin Milne (182) was sixth at Class LL and State Open, Bisher Hiba (99) was FCIAC runner-up, while Warren Little (160) placed fourth, Andrew Grabinski (138) took fifth, and Hayden Provencal (152) was sixth at Class LL.
There were a half dozen Ridgefield Tigers who placed high in the postseason. Dominic Barrella was the FCIAC and Class LL 113-pound champion and fifth at State Open; Nathan Blaha (126) was a Class LL champ, FCIAC runner-up and sixth at State Open; Lucas Ferreira (152) placed second at FCIAC and Class LL, and sixth at State Open; Andrey Kosygin (160) was FCIAC champion and Class LL runner-up; Alex Blaha (120) placed second and Victor Petkov (132) was sixth at Class LL.
Norwalk 195-pounder Brendan Gilchrist was very good in his last few tournaments as he was runner-up at the New England Championships after he won Class LL and placed third at State Open to lead a handful of Bears who had postseason success.
Also for Norwalk: Ryan Gilchrist (182) was FCIAC runner-up and then third at both the Class LL and State Open; Nick Fatone (132) was FCIAC champion and Class LL runner-up; Phoenix Gardella (120) placed second at FCIAC, fourth at State Open and fifth at Class LL; and Jack Cahill (138) took sixth at Class LL.
For Staples: Jack Francis won the FCIAC 99-pound title, Noah Fraas (160) placed second at FCIAC and fifth at Class LL, Jackson Oliver (195) placed sixth at the State Open, and Nicholas Augeri (220) was third and Chase Watkins (106) took sixth at Class LL.
For Brien McMahon: John Schneider was the FCIAC 120-pound champion and third at Class LL, Ben VanSteen (170) placed second at FCIAC and fifth at Class LL, while Zavier Hernandez (145) was FCIAC runner-up and sixth at Class LL.
For Greenwich: Louis Ceci (182) won the FCIAC and took fourth at Class LL, and Stephen Numme (113) was also fourth at Class LL.
For Fairfield Ludlowe: Dylan Sherman (126) was FCIAC champion and third at Class LL, Mark Wrobel (195) was FCIAC runner-up and fifth at Class LL, and Will Mears (160) took sixth at Class LL.
For New Canaan: R.J. DeCamillo (138) was FCIAC runner-up and third at Class L, and Gilbert Clay (220) took fourth at Class L.
St. Joseph’s Joseph Sansone was the FCIAC 285-pound champion.
Another aspect of this high school wrestling season which was special was the excellence of a few girls from FCIAC schools who won a good number of matches against boys during the regular season and at the FCIAC and state class champion tournaments, and then they won state championships at their own 2022 CIAC Girls State Wrestling Invitational in late February.
Stamford High School junior Samantha Yap defended her 106-pound state championship when she decisioned Somers senior Taylor McCormick, 9-3, in the final. Yap was among the first champions at a CIAC-sanctioned girls wrestling state championship event two years ago as a freshman.
Brien McMahon freshman Calli Gilchrist and Norwalk freshman Rylee Donohue were state champions who both shut out their opponents in the finals.
Calli Gilchrist shut out Berlin’s Christianna Morley, 9-0, in the 113-pound final. After losing early in the state Class LL tourney, Calli Gilchrist wrestled her way back in the consolation rounds and won against a few boys to finish sixth.
Donohue won a 7-0 decision over Amity’s Emily De Souza in the 126-pound final.
The 120-pound consolation final was a matchup of girls from the City of Norwalk and Norwalk High junior Kaleigh Carillos earned third place with an 8-1 victory over McMahon sophomore Maren Gilchrist.
NOTES: The previous time the New England Championships took place was two years ago. Danbury 138-pounder Ryan Jack and New Canaan 152-pounder Tyler Sung were both New England champions. Jack helped Danbury’s Hatters defend their team title and win the New England championship for the third time in four years as they also won in 2017. That tournament was actually the last major high school sports event of the year in early March of 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the remainder of postseason state tournaments in sports such as girls basketball, boys basketball and hockey.