Law wrestling rallies to beat Bethel, win Milford Duals

MILFORD — Trailing Bethel 38-27 after losing decisions at 103 and 119 pounds along with getting pinned at 112, the Jonathan Law wrestling team battled back to edge the Wildcats 39-38 last week in the finals of the Joe Beler Sr./Milford Duals.

The duals were renamed this year in honor of Beler, who became the first wrestling coach at Law 35 years ago.

The Lawmen, the 15th-ranked team in the state, received last-ditch pins from Jason Richardson at 125 and Jesse Munko at 130 to pull out the victory.

“Bethel always has a solid team,” Law coach Matt Schoonmaker said. “Our heavyweight (Anthony Iovino-Ortiz) wrestled one of the top five guys in the state and was doing really well until he got caught and pinned.”

Law received additional pins from Tylor Baker (135 pounds), Sam Grace (140), Tyler Marchetti (152), Aaron Hutter (160), and Ted Kostopoulos (215).

Earlier in the tournament, Law defeated Foran, 52-20, Morgan-Clinton, 66-6, Hartford Classical, 69-6, and Platt Tech, 54-20, and improved to 9-1.

Richardson, Kostopoulos, Hutter, Baker, and Munko each swept all five of his matches that day.

“I wasn’t pleased with how we wrestled Foran,” Schoonmaker said. “I know Foran has a better team this year than they’ve had in the past and I know there is the cross-town rivalry thing and our kids were excited about wrestling Foran. We got better and better as each match went on during the day. We got some good mat time and were able to work on things we had previously tried to do in practice. Our young guys stepped up nicely. Aaron Hutter really man handled the kid from Bethel. He took him down, rode him, turned him and then pinned him.”

On Saturday, Schoonmaker sent nine of his wrestlers to the Bristol Central Invitational. Richardson won the 119-pound championship. Munko and Kostopoulos placed fifth in their respective weight classes while Brian Manes and Baker placed sixth.

Law placed 10th out of 18 teams.

“I sent five of our younger varsity guys to a junior varsity tournament so they could get more experience and mat time,” Schoonmaker said. “The Bristol Central Invitational is a very difficult tournament and it is one-and-done if you lose before the quarterfinals. I didn’t want the young guys to lose an early-round match and then sit and do nothing for the remainder of the day. I sent nine varsity guys (who had won more than 70 percent of their matches) to Bristol Central.”

Schoonmaker noted that a year ago, Richardson didn’t place in this tournament. This year, he won at 119 and then was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler. It was the first time since 2001 that a Law wrestler won that honor.

He also said that Manes entered the tournament seeded eighth and beat the No. 6 seed. Schoonmaker was pleased that Munko, who missed virtually all of the 2008-09 season due to a shoulder injury, placed fifth last Saturday.

While Kostopoulos dropped a quarterfinal decision, Schoonmaker said that it was a one-point loss to perhaps the second or third-best 215-pound wrestler in the state.

“Right now I’m happy that we are 9-1,” Schoonmaker said. “That’s about where I had wanted us to be at this point of the season.”