Dramatic Win: Grapplers Come Back, Edge Rival New Milford
Down to their final match, and trailing in that head-to-head competition with the third-period clock winding down, Newtown High School’s wrestling team reversed its fortunes — quite literally — to eke out a dramatic 34-33 win over visiting New Milford in a thriller on January 12.
Marc Maurath trailed his 138 pound weight division counterpart Joseph Russell 5-4 with 30 seconds remaining when he scored two points on a reversal and held on. The win gave Newtown three team points and tied the score. Coaches and scorers referred to the rule book and, after a few minutes, determined the Nighthawks won the tiebreaker on criteria based on coming out on top in one more individual match than the Green Wave, winning seven of the 13 matchups. That sparked a celebration among the Nighthawks as Newtown scored its first dual meet victory over the South-West Conference rival Green Wave since 2015.
Coming into the match, New Milford was ranked eighth and NHS ninth in the Connecticut Wrestling Online weekly poll.
The Nighthawks won five of the last six bouts to come from behind and snag a victory away from what looked to be jaws of defeat as the Wave built a commanding 28-12 lead.
Jon DaSilva won a 13-10 decision in a back-and-forth match at 285, Tommy Milligan pinned his opponent at 106, there was a double forfeit at 113, and Kenna Gioffre won via pinfall at 120. After New Milford won at 126, Newtown needed a victory from Luca Manfredi in the 126 division to make things interesting going into Maurath’s bout. Manfredi won a 7-2 decision, pushing the outcome of the match to the end. Other winners for the Nighthawks were Brendan McAnaspie at 145 and Fisher Stites at 170 — both via pin. New Milford managed four wins via pin. Pinfall wins result in more points than decisions, and the Hawks battled successfully to avoid pins in their two other individual setbacks. Newtown racked up four pinfall wins of its own.
“Every single wrestler put in 150% to score team points when they needed to in an unselfish manner to help the team win,” said Tom Maurath, the NHS Wrestling Booster Club president who has taken over coaching duties. “It was a team effort for sure. We had a strategy and each wrestler did his job.
“This is a result of some of these kids being together since elementary school and they would rather win as a team than as individuals,” added the coach, referring to the grapplers growing up together on the Newtown Youth Wrestling Association mats.
Coach Maurath is pleased with the effort and performance of the Hawks, especially considering 75% of the roster is comprised of freshmen and sophomores. “This is the first wave of kids coming up from the Newtown Youth Wrestling Association,” he said.
Newtown competed in the John Chacho Duals at Staples High in Westport on January 15, and placed third among eight teams. The Hawks defeated Fairfield Ludlowe 55-22, topped Shelton 60-15, beat Fairfield Prep 41-33, and lost 48-33 to sixth-ranked Foran of Milford.
The Hawks beat Stratford Wednesday. Thursday's match with top-ten state team New Fairfield was postponed due to the snow day. Challenging competitions such as the one with New Milford are welcomed by the Nighthawk coach who said tough opponents are getting the Nighthawks into gear for the second half of the season when the tournament schedule ramps up and teams prepare for the postseason.
Newtown is slated to participate in the 35th Annual New Milford Tournament on January 22.
Bout scores from the New Milford match:
*145 Brendan McAnaspie (Newtown) pin Brennan Botelho (New Milford), 3:40
*152 Maximus Piel (New Milford) pin Henry Terifay (Newtown), 3:30
*160 Xavier Marchena (New Milford) pin Andrew Corey (Newtown), 2:46
*170 Fisher Stites (Newtown) pin Chayten Prashant (New Milford), 3:59
*182 Angelo Fernandez (New Milford) major decision Jeff Gonzalez (Newtown), 10-2
*195 Griffin Busch (New Milford) pin Acea Shaham (Newtown), 3:10
*220 Christopher Reiss (New Milford) pin Charles Dunn (Newtown), 2:54
*285 Jon DaSilva (Newtown) decision Riccardi Fernandez (New Milford) 13-10
*106 Tommy Milligan (Newtown) pin Caden Reynolds (New Milford), 1:38
*120 Kenna Gioffre (Newtown) pin Jorge Caceres (New Milford), 2:56
*126 Evan Lindner (New Milford) technical fall Ben Plaue (Newtown), 23-8
*132 Luca Manfredi (Newtown) decision Braden Olmstead (New Milford), 7-2
*138 Marc Maurath (Newtown) decision Joseph Russell (New Milford), 6-5
Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at email@example.com.