Winning a South-West Conference team championship likely is just a fantasy for most grapplers in the SWC.

For the matmen of New Milford High School, bringing home an SWC title plaque apparently is simply an annual reward for years of hard work and dedication.

Coach Chris Piel's potent Green Wave claimed its fifth straight SWC championship and ninth in 15 seasons last weekend with a bravura performance at Brookfield High School.

Five NMHS wrestlers won their respective weight classes, four were runnersup and two more grappled their way to the third-place finishes.

The end result was a remarkable 255.50 point team total, matching the Green Wave's previous SWC tournament standard.

Masuk and Newtown deadlocked for a distant second place with 135 points each in a 12-team field competing last Friday and Saturday.

"We are very proud of the boys," said coach Piel, "and how they finished their run at the SWC title."

The SWC tournament took on a special significance for the host Bobcats, who won back-to-back weight class titles at 135 and 140 pounds.

In a way, the SWC's siting of the event in Brookfield marked the school's symbolic return as a factor in area wrestling. The Bobcats had been a dominant team in the old Western Connecticut Conference back in the 1970s and early '80s.

As for the Green Wave, Saturday's final round nearly took on the feeling of a dual match as coach Piel paraded nine wrestlers out to battle for a title.

Conor Kirkegard (105 pounds), Alex Thalassinos (112), Tyler Monroe (119), Nick Amorando (125) and Karl Bradshaw (171) earned individual championships.

The latter match was decided by a precarious 11-10 margin not finalized until after a post-match talk between the officials had discounted a late takedown by Newtown's Cory Fisher.

For his four-year efforts, Nick Amorando was presented the SWC's "Career Wrestler" award.

The Green Wave piled up more points thanks to second-place efforts by Andrew Golden (130), Ian Curtis (135), Kameron Bradshaw (140) and Anthony Terlizzi (145).

Keenan Owens (16) and John Burns (215) earned third places.

The tournament romp echoed the Green Wave's regular-season sweep through its SWC rivals. Coach Piel's mat crew posted a 12-0 record against league foes to finish 20-0 overall for the winter.

The Green Wave will next take its mat act to Bristol Eastern High School today (Friday) and tomorrow for the state class `L' tournament. Top wrestlers from that meet will advance to the state open tournament scheduled Feb. 25-26 at the New Haven Athletic Center. As the Green Wave nears the close of its 2010-11 season, the time draws near when 10 seniors will have wrestled their last matches for NMHS.

"It is never easy to say goodbye to seniors," reflected coach Piel, "but winning an SWC title makes it a little easier. Let's hope that we can really give them a nice sendoff with New Milford's first state title."

Norm Cummings