So far, so good for the Newtown High School wrestling team. The grapplers have won three early-season tournaments in Fairfield, Trumbull and, most recently Natick, Mass., and have had their way with four opponents in dual meets. Newtown placed fifth in the 14-team Danbury Holiday Tournament, won by the host Hatters.
“We’ve been drilling a lot harder this year — practices are a lot harder,” 220-pound grappler Ryan Wagner said. “It’s definitely paying off a lot.”
The Nighthawks captain and 132-pound wrestler James Leuci believes, can be top-five team in the state and finish among the best in the South-West Conference.
“If we continue to keep increasing the intensity we’ve been bringing to all these matches we’ll get there just on that,” Leuci said.
Confidence is high, but there is no sense of complacency among the Hawks, especially when it comes to coaching staff.
“There’s a ton of room for improvement,” Coach Chris Bray said after a 73-3 triumph over host Masuk of Monroe on January 8. “As coaches we’re never going to be satisfied.”
Bray said 182-pound wrestler Greg LaRussa’s effort against Masuk’s Clayton Hoskons, a match in which LaRussa pinned his opponent for the win, was a near-flawless performance. On the whole, however, there is work that needs to be done in the technique department throughout the lineup, Bray added.
That said, the Newtown coach knows his team members are working hard and earning their wins and other accolades. Newtown moved into the top eight in the state coach’s poll last week. “I think we belong there. We can wrestle with anybody,” Bray said.
Newtown maintained its status as the No. 8 team in Connecticut following its win in the Natick Invitational on January 11. Newtown’s champions in the tourney are as follows: Thomas Leuci (106); Luca Crudo (120); Matt Gonzalez (126); James Leuci (132); Anthony Falbo (152); and Forest Speed (170). Finishing second was Mike Long (138); third place finishers were Edward Lovely (113) and Logan Walsh (145); fourth were Connor Lemay (160) and Ryan Wagner (220); fifth was Greg LaRussa (182); and sixth was Andy Hubina (195).
Falbo is undefeated and Leuci is 14-1 thus far. Newtown has had its way with most of the competition — in and out of state — but did have some stiff competition in the Danbury tourney, and expects more battles in perhaps the toughest dual meet of the campaign, coming up this coming week.
One of the biggest tests of the season stands to come in a January 22 home clash with SWC rival New Milford, the No. 3 team in the state. The Green Wave visits for a 7 pm matchup.
Results from Newtown’s visit to Masuk are as follows:
106: Thomas Leuci of Newtown won by forfeit.
113: Ed Lovely of Newtown pinned Wyatt Palyn.
120: Luca Crudo of Newtown pinned Eric Naoski.
126: Matt Gonzalez of Newtown beat Jake Pirulli 5-2 (Decision).
132: James Leuci of Newtown beat Dylan Pirulli 11-1 (Major Decision).
138: Mike Long of Newtown pinned Billy Ladbell.
145: Logan Walsh of Newtown pinned Jack Gaber.
152: Anthony Falbo of Newtown pinned Zach Pires.
160: Connor Lemay of Newtown pinned Ryan Motetti.
170: Forest Speed of Newtown pinned Conner Gravelle.
182: Greg LaRussa of Newtown pinned Clayton Hoskons.
195: Salvatore Longo of Masuk beat Andy Hubina 4-3 (Decision).
220: Ryan Wagner of Newtown pinned Martin Lovrity.
285: Thomas Long of Newtown won by forfeit.