FCIAC wrestlers star in State championship meets

Xavier was the unanimous choice for the No. 1 ranking while a trio of FCIAC teams – Danbury, Trumbull, and Fairfield Warde – were ranked in the final 2023 Connecticut Wrestling Online Poll.

Xavier had a 10-4 record and won two state championships for the second consecutive year to earn all 17 first-place votes and become No. 1 unanimously for the second straight year.

Xavier’s Falcons defended their championship at the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference State Open Wrestling Tournament by a comfortable margin of 54 points one week after they defended their Class L state championship. Xavier scored 175.5 points and fifth-ranked New Fairfield was runner-up with 121.5 points at the State Open.

Xavier won the Class L championship with 293.5 points and New Milford placed second with 269 points. Xavier and New Milford were ranked first and second, respectively, in the previous state poll and New Milford (8-0) was again voted No. 2 in the final poll.

Newtown (17-2), East Hartford (10-1) and New Fairfield (21-4) were ranked 3-5.

Danbury (12-1) was the highest-ranked FCIAC team at No. 6.

Class LL state champion Trumbull (24-3) was ranked No. 8 and FCIAC champion Fairfield Warde (17-2) was ranked No. 9.

Killingly (25-0) was ranked just behind Danbury at No. 7 and RHAM (27-2) was 10th to complete the top 10.

There were five FCIAC teams who finished among the top 16 in receiving polling points. Norwalk (13-3) received the 13th most points and Fairfield Ludlowe (18-3) got the 16th most points as the two conference teams among the 12 total who also received votes.

Fairfield Warde won the 2023 Joe Sikorski FCIAC Wrestling Tournament championship with 216 points to end Danbury’s streak of 11 straight conference championships.

Danbury placed second with 184 points at the FCIAC tournament, and then coach Mike Silvestri’s Hatters were third at the Class LL state tournament and fifth at the State Open to earn that No. 6 ranking in the final state poll.

Danbury’s Nuh Ajdinoski was a triple crown winner individually to lead the Hatters in the postseason tournaments. Ajdinoski decisioned Fairfield Prep’s Malachi Mercer-Robinson, 3-1, in the final of the 285-pound weight class at the State Open. That was a rematch of the Class LL final which Ajdinoski won, 3-2 (ultimate tie-breaker).

Ajdinoski won his first postseason title when he won the FCIAC championship and was named Most Outstanding Wrestler (upper weights) one year after having been the runner-up at 285 at the 2022 conference tournament.

There were four more Hatters who won their weight classes at the FCIAC tournament.

Christian Pote was the FCIAC and Class LL state champion in his 106-pound weight class and he then placed fourth at the State Open. Dominic Iaquinto was the conference and Class LL state champion at 182 before he placed fifth at the State Open.

The two other Hatters who were FCIAC champions were 99-pounder Anthony Valenzuela and Jesse Defonce (138 pounds).

Trumbull coach Charlie Anderson had a solid corps of wrestlers to form a balanced lineup and several of his Eagles placed high in their respective weight classes to lead Trumbull to the school’s first state Class LL championship despite the fact Trumbull did not have an individual Class LL state champion. The Eagles earned their title because eight of them placed among the top six in their weight divisions.

Sam Lapham (152 pounds) and Mike Gianetti (220) were runner-up in their respective weight classes; Warren Little (170), Aethan Munden (195) and Lukas Cylwik (285) each placed third; Oscar Rodriquez (106) took fifth; while Shane Ryan (120) and Alex Sparks-Bakota (160) both placed sixth to help the Eagles score 181 points and win their state Class LL championship by 3.5 points over East Hartford, which had 177.5.

Coach Jason Shaughnessy’s ninth-ranked Fairfield Warde Mustangs followed up their FCIAC team title by placing fourth at the Class LL state tournament and ninth at the State Open.

Fairfield Warde’s 220-pounder Nehemias Pettway won FCIAC and state Class LL championships before he placed third at the State Open, while teammate Owen Sheiman (113) was also an individual champion at the FCIAC and state Class LL tournaments.

Fairfield Warde’s Dominick Spadaro won state Class LL and State Open championships after he lost a 6-4 decision to Norwalk’s Phoenix Gardella in the FCIAC 126-pound final. Spadaro then won the rematch between those two by a 4-2 margin in the state Class LL final.

Gardella was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler (lower weights) after his 6-4 victory over Spadaro in their FCIAC final showdown. After Gardella was runner-up to Spadaro in the Class LL final, Gardella would then place third in the Class LL and New England championships.

Norwalk senior Brendan Gilchrist improved his unbeaten record to 46-0 when he won his 195-pound class at the 58th annual New England Wrestling Championships with a 3-1 victory in the final over East Hartford’s Sammy Montovani. Gilchrist had a Grand Slam season as that New England championship followed up on the FCIAC, state Class LL, and State Open championships he previously won.

Brendan Gilchrist was the only FCIAC wrestler who was a New England champion, and he was among four wrestlers from Connecticut who accomplished that.

Norwalk had three FCIAC individual champions as Ryan Gilchrist (170) won FCIAC and state Class LL championships and was runner-up at the State Open.

Fairfield Ludlowe had a pair of FCIAC individual champions in Donnell Young and Dylan Sherman. Young was the FCIAC and state Class LL 152-pound champion who then placed fourth at the State Open. Sherman (132) was a conference champion, a state Class LL runner-up, and he placed sixth at the State Open.

Brien McMahon’s Zavier Hernandez won FCIAC and state Class LL championships in his 145-pound weight class and placed sixth at the State Open.

Ridgefield’s Dominic Barrella was the FCIAC 120-pound champion who went on to place second at the state Class LL championships and third at the State Open.

Wilton’s Jaden Seabrook was the FCIAC 160-pound champion.

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