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For many years, the New Milford High School wrestling program has ranked among the elite in the state.

It's now to safe to say, except for neighboring Danbury, the Green Wave is cream of the crop.

Coach Chris Piel's talented grapplers recently captured a third state Class L team title in four years.

The NMHS student-athletes then wrestled their way Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28 and March 1, to second place behind Danbury High in the State Open tournament at Hillhouse High School in New Haven.

Kyle Lindner highlighted the Green Wave's State Open effort by winning the 113-pound weight class, pinning Timmy Kane, of Fairfield Warde, at 4:49 of the title bout.

That performance echoed individual golds Lindner won at the South-West Conference and Class L tournaments, both of which helped his team to victory.

Piel's mat crew also received a fourth-place performance fom Brett Leonard. Lindner and Leonard thus qualified for this weekend's climactic New England Open tournament.

As Piel is quick to point out, successful teams succeed at big tournaments because of their prowess at wrestle-backs.

To that extent, the Green Wave excelled in New Haven as Halim Bourjeli, Niko Stefanatos and Zachary Arnold earned respective fifth-place points at 106, 126 and 138 pounds.

Also earning important points with several wins apiece during wrestlebacks were C.J. Schulz at 120, Bryan Rojas at 132 and Thomas McIlveen at 220 pounds.

At tournament's end, Danbury reigned as State Open champion with 141 points, followed by New Milford with 114.5.

In all, 93 schools participated in the two-day wrestling tournament.

A week earlier, the Green Wave had claimed gold at the Class L event at Bristol Central High School (see photos).

The individul title effort by Kyle Lindner deservedly grabbed the spotlight, but the lithe NMHS junior had plenty of help achieving the team gold.

Niko Stefanatos (126), Bryan Rojas (132) and Brett Leonard (145) brought home second-place medals, Halim Bourjeli (106), C.J. Schulz (120) and Zachary Arnold (138) earned thirds and Thomas McIlveen (220) contributed fifth place.

The Green Wave totalled a dominant 215.5 points compared with runnerup Fairfield Warde's 188 as 27 Class L schools sent athletes to the mats that weekend.

For more photos, visit www.newmilfordspectrum.com.