No. 7 ranked Foran fields full lineup every match

Foran's Mason Hallstrom pins his opponent.

Foran's Mason Hallstrom pins his opponent.

Foran High Athletics / Contributed photo

Foran is ranked 7th in the latest Connecticut Wrestling Online’s top 10 high school wrestling poll.

Coach Dave Esposito can explain the Lions’ 11-1 start to the season.

“It’s been hard. We’ve had probably three or four starters out of the lineup every match, but we have such good depth that kids have been able to step up and fill in,” he said. “I guarantee you we are the only team in the state that hasn’t forfeited a single match. We have kids that I have confidence in. I’m not putting them in there to get killed. I know they can compete. That is a testament to how hard they work in the room and the improvement that they’ve made in the last month.”

“This is the proudest I’ve been of a team in a long time,” Esposito said. “We didn’t have a lot of kids coming back. Pretty much every day I wake up to a text from (Foran athletic director) Anthony Vitelli telling me this or that kid can’t wrestle for the next 10 days.”

Making weight is the No. 1 priority for a wrestler. If you don’t make weight nothing else happens. Make weight and you can take the mat and win. When you step on the scale and are cleared to wrestle, a coach has options to move guys around in the lineup. Most of all it allows a team to put 14 wrestlers out every match.

“Probably the most important kid in my lineup is Adrian Cruz,” Esposito said of his 113-pound freshman who never wrestled before high school. “I don’t have a true 126 pounder. Every match I have the luxury of putting Mason Hallstrom at 120 and wrestle Cruz at 113. Or I can put Hallstrom at 113, Cruz at 120 and Antonio Madero at 126.

“If I didn’t have Adrian, we would be forfeiting one match every time. Also, they wouldn’t put a guy up to wrestle against Madero. The other team would bump a less likely kid to win to take the forfeit, and then forfeit to Madero. Instead of losing 12 points, we are getting 12 points. Adrian goes out and competes. He’s losing but getting better. Adrian will be good in the next couple of years because of that.”

Foran boasts a proven wrestler in Kyle Pokornowski at 145 pounds. Craig Mager at 132 and Barry Held at 220 have posted top marks.

Esposito said: “Craig started as a freshman. He lost last year because of the pandemic but is having a great year and is 12-3. Barry is a senior who never wrestled varsity before. He is 13-3. They are the two main guys that have put themselves in an elite class unexpectedly. Kyle is 14-2 and will be a top seed in Class M.”

Looking back

Foran won the last four matches to top Guilford 40-39.

“After the 113-pound match we were down by 21 points,” Esposito said. “It was an amazing, exciting match. We had the most wins by pin or forfeit (fifth criteria) to get the victory.”

Each team had four pins. Foran’s Keith Pokornowski won by forfeit at 106 pounds to provide the win.

Mason Hallstrom began the comeback by winning a 12-6 decision in his 120-pound bout. Antonio Madero pinned in one minute at 126 and 132-pounder Craig Mager earned a fall with seven seconds remaining in the second period.

Anthony Giordano took the mat with Foran down six points and recorded a pin in 1:30 at 126 to send the decision to the scorer’s table. Kyle Pokornowski (145) and James Taylor (152) each pinned in 3:51.

Lions sweep

Foran captured four decisions at East Haven. The Lions defeated Glastonbury 66-6, East Haven 66-15, Waterford 54-24, and Stratford 54-27.

Kyle Pokornowski at 145 pounds registered four wins by fall, in 2:11. 26 seconds, 27 seconds and in 1:22. Antonio Madero at 126 pounds was 4-0, winning a 9-2 decision followed by pins in 36, 44, and 18 seconds. Craig Mager had the fastest pin on the day for Foran, winning in 11 seconds against Stratford. The 132-pounder added pins of 24 and 30 seconds. Barry Held won three matches by fall, two in the second period and one in the third. Mason Hallstrom pinned in 25 seconds and 2:48 at 113 pounds and won in 58 seconds at 120 pounds. James Taylor posted falls of 33 and 43 seconds at 152 pounds. Adrian Cruz had falls of 1:50 at 120 and 1:00 at 113 pounds. Anthony Giordano at 138 pounds won in 2:50 and 25 seconds. Cal Wrigley (11-6) at 160, Joseph Cichowski (1:28) at 182, Max Newton (2:52) at 170, Jagger Rees (1:04) heavyweight, and Eliot Puffenberger (16 seconds) at 195 had victories.

Foran competed in the John Chacho Duals on Saturday at Staples.

“We won the first three, Ludlowe, Shelton and Newtown, who I believe was No. 9. Then we wrestled Staples in the finals,” Esposito said. “They were No. 7 and they beat us 36-33 when they won the last match. I’m very happy with the guys.”

Looking ahead

“This week we wrestle Xavier and Fairfield Warde. They are the No. 1 and No. 3 team in states. If we get through those matches still alive, we’ll be okay. I think Xavier is the best team in New England from what I’ve seen,” Esposito said.

The next month is about getting ready for the postseason.

“They moved the SCC tournament up a week to Feb. 5,” Esposito said. “It was Feb. 12. It was a wise move. Now even if a kid gets contact tracing, they’ll still have 10 days before states.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354