Trio of Lions earn state titles

Foran High’s Zach Hubler looks to hit a switch and gain a reversal during the Class M tournament on Saturday. Hubler took first in the 195-pound class to help the Lions place third as a team. (Photo by Mike Suppe)

Foran High’s Zach Hubler looks to hit a switch and gain a reversal during the Class M tournament on Saturday. Hubler took first in the 195-pound class to help the Lions place third as a team.
(Photo by Mike Suppe)

Jake Pouliot, Zach Hubler and Luke Edmondson all captured individual state championships at the Class M tournament at Jonathan Law High’s James Richetelli Sr. Gymnasium on Saturday night. The Lions placed third overall as a team with 153 points, placing behind Ledyard High (193 points) and Waterford High (168). Berlin High (120) and Branford High (102.5) finished out the top five. “As a team, our depth really carried us in this tournament,” Foran head coach Frank Peters said. “I was happy to have four guys make the finals, it’s great to come away with three champions, but most importantly it was good to see the majority of our wrestlers come and score points.” Pouliot defeated Zachary Smith of Killingly, 8-0, in the 113-pound final, while Hubler cruised to an 11-6 decision win over Immaculate/Joel Barlow’s Steven Ghossani at 195. Ghossani was the defending Class L state champ at 195. Edmondson, a sophomore, used a takedown and a three-point nearfall in the closing seconds to stun top-seeded Mike Burek of Berlin, 6-3, in the final at 285. Ben Croll dropped a 4-3 decision to Ledyard sophomore Daric Johnson in the 220 final. The top-seeded Croll racked up falls over Daniel DeLoreto of Bacon Academy in the semifinals (4:27) and Berlin’s William Conticello (4:29) in the quarterfinals to earn a spot in the championship. Other top finishers for the Lions included No. 11 seed Jubilee Witte (sixth place, 126) and Noah Hubler (sixth place, 170). Top six finishers at Class M qualify for the State Open beginning on Friday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven. Zach Hubler Seeded second at 195, Hubler defeated the top-seeded Ghossani to win the state title. Hubler was aggressive from the opening whistle, taking down Ghossani three times in the first period. Ghossani escaped each time, then pulled to within 6-4 when he escaped early in the second period. Using a crisp double-leg takedown, Hubler put Ghossani on the mat to extend his lead to 8-4. Leading 9-5 in the third period, Hubler notched a switch for a two-point reversal before letting Ghossani up prior to the final buzzer. “I wrestled my match and didn’t let him wrestle his,” Hubler said. “If he wrestled his, it might’ve been a different story. I took control and that’s what I wanted to do.” After receiving a bye into the second round, Hubler pinned Alex Purdue of Fermi-Enfield in 3:26 and Cas Woznica of St. Bernard/Norwich Tech in 5:55 to advance into the semifinals. There he faced third-seeded Jared Willsey of Bethel and was comfortably leading when Willsey defaulted. Luke Edmondson Trailing 3-0 late in the third period of the 285 final, Edmondson rallied to shock the top-seeded Burek. “I just tried as hard as I could,” Edmondson said. “We practice so hard for all this. It definitely paid off… Do anything you can to get points.” Standing up to earn the escape with 22 seconds left, the sophomore heavyweight kept on battling. He shot in on Burek and took the Redcoat senior down and onto his back with four seconds left, notching a takedown and three back points to secure the 6-3 victory. “He had two choices, he could dance in neutral for a few more seconds or he could go for it,” Peters said. “We were telling him he had nothing to lose and so he went to his go-to move… and that was the match.” Edmondson, seeded second, received a pair of byes to move into the quarterfinals — where he pinned Joshua Throop of Ledyard in 3:02. He then squared off with third-seeded Bonalumi Gino of Avon in the semifinals, earning a 3-2 decision to set up his bout with Burek. Last week, Edmondson dropped an overtime decision to Nik Photos of Amity in the consolation round at SCCs, falling short of reaching the top four. Seven days later, the sophomore was a state champion. “I wanted to do better in this tournament and I reached my goal of top three,” he said. “Knowing I have two more years, it’s high expectations but I’m ready for it.” Jake Pouliot At 113, Pouliot won a methodical major decision over the fourth-seeded Smith. Pouliot, the top seed, scored via a first-period takedown, second-period escape and a pair of third-period nearfalls to sink the junior Redman. After surviving a 7-6 decision against third-seeded Michael Commander of New London in the semis, Pouliot liked his chances against Smith, who pinned No. 9 seed Bijaya Jaisi of Branford in 5:45 of their semifinal bout. “I feel like I wrestled the toughest kid in the tournament that I was going to have in the semis,” Pouliot said. “So I came into the finals really confident and aggressive.” In the quarterfinals, Pouliot turned back Stratford High’s Will McCallister, 4-0, after starting out with a fall over Caleb Delaney of Lyman/Windham Tech in 38 seconds. Roundup Gino Esposito fell one victory short of earning a spot in the State Open, dropping a 5-1 decision to Waterford’s Ryan Botseas in the consolation quarterfinals. Witte, at 126, upset fifth-seeded Phil Manes of Law, 5-2, in the second round after pinning Vincent Franco of East Haven in 1:24 of their rat-tail bout. Nikolas Randolph of Waterford sent Witte into the losers’ bracket with a 2-0 victory, where Witte won 7-3 over Pabel Pascual of New London. A 6-5 win over Lyman/Windham Tech’s Brandon Bentley ensured a spot in the Open for Witte, before he dropped decisions to Nicholas Kelsey of Branford (9-3) and Connor O’Brien of Bacon Academy (6-0) to place sixth. Noah Hubler, seeded No. 8 at 170, went 2-2 to qualify for Opens, edging No. 6 seed Jared Zima of Berlin, 2-1, in the consolation quarters to secure a top-six finish. The sophomore lost via fall to Dylan Bouchard of Ellis Tech in 2:31 to set up a fifth-place bout with David Verlizzi of Lyman/Windham Tech. Verlizzi then took fifth with a 3-2 win. J.R Pellegrino (132), Pat Fitzgerald (138), Ricky Kratzer (152), Michael Lynch (160) and Cristian Woodford (182) all picked up team points with victories.

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