New Milford wrestlers rally to beat rival New Fairfield
NEW MILFORD — As far as regular-season dual meets go, they don’t get much bigger than the New Milford and New Fairfield high school wrestlers stepping on the mat and going toe-to-toe. Wednesday night’s showdown between the two perennial state and South-West Conference contenders — both of whom are ranked in the top 10 in the state coaches’ poll — was certainly another exciting chapter in their storied rivalry.
Trailing by eight points at the midway point, second-ranked New Milford won five of the last seven matches by pin to secure a thrilling 41-28 victory over the seventh-ranked Rebels.
Nik Pellicone’s first-period pin in the 220-pound match sparked New Milford’s late rally. Brandon Leonard (106), Colin Lindner (113), Tyler Schultz (126) and Evan Colley (132) followed with pins to complete the win. Schultz put the the Green Wave ahead by seven with one match to go, essentially sealing the deal.
“We all have faith in each other. We’re like one big family,” Schultz said. “It’s all about getting the job done for the family.”
“They came to wrestle,” New Milford coach Chris Piel said of New Fairfield. “They’re a really, really good team, and I knew they matched up extremely well with us. To get the win like that and have some of our guys who aren’t the big names step up, it’s nice.”
For New Fairfield, Avery Shay opened the meet with a win by major decision at 138. Tyler Burlinson (170), Billy Magrino (182) and Russell Howard (285) all registered pins, and Justin Garden (195) and Alec Opsal (120) both won by decision.
“We got pinned too much, that’s all,” New Fairfield coach Paul Musso said. “I think we could have wrestled better, but it is what it is.”
The wins by Rojas, Berger and Brett Leonard gave New Milford an early 11-4 lead, but Burlinson, Magrino and Garden then won in succession to put the Rebels ahead 19-11. Pellicone’s pin cut the Wave’s deficit to 19-17, but Howard’s pin extended the Rebels’ lead back up to 25-17.
The pins by Brandon Leonard and Lindner then put the Wave ahead 29-25 with three matches to go. Opsal’s win cut the Wave’s lead to 29-28 with two matches to go and gave the Rebels a big spark. He had taken a 2-0 lead on New Milford’s Mel Ortiz with a first-period takedown, then held the lead for the remaining two periods. Any hopes of a New Fairfield comeback were extinguished, however, when Schultz followed with the decisive pin.
NEW MILFORD 41,
NEW FAIRFIELD 28
Records: New Fairfield (4-1, 4-1); New Milford (5-0, 5-0).
138: Avery Shay (NF) major dec. C.J. Schultz 10-2; 145: Bryan Rojas (NM) tech. fall Ben Reilly 16-1; 152: Cameron Berger (NM) dec. Dan Gioia 10-4; 160: Brett Leonard (NM) dec. Andrew D’Amico 5-0; 170: Tyler Burlinson (NF) pinned Mike Haggerty 1:39; 182: Billy Magrino (NF) pinned Kyle Fabich 3:49; 195: Justin Garden (NF) dec. David Angulo 6-1; 220: Nik Pellicone (NM) pinned Joe Alesi 1:48; 285: Russell Howard (NF) pinned Julian Reza 3:43; 106: Brandon Leonard (NM) pinned Hunter Chin 2:31; 113: Colin Lindner (NM) pinned Zach Kalmanson 2:36; 120: Alec Opsal (NF) dec. Mel Ortiz 2-0; 126: Tyler Schultz (NM) pinned Braden Reilly 3:57; 132: Evan Colley (NM) pinned Liam Goudie 0:43.