Foran sending six to State Open
C.J. Luth and Clay Callahan won individual state titles, lifting the Foran High wrestling team to a second-place finish at the Class M tournament at Jonathan Law on Saturday night.
Ledyard High (252.5) placed first. Coach Frank Peters’ Lions finished as runners-up with 153 points, followed by New Fairfield (143), Avon (142) and Branford (132.5).
Luth (champion at 138), Clay Callahan (champion at 152), Liam Callahan (second at 106), Beau Garcia (fourth at 160), Zach Hubler (fourth at 182) and Jacob Pouliot (fifth at 113) all qualified for the State Open at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.
“We had a couple of guys step up and overachieve,” Peters said. “I would’ve liked to see more medalists from my team. But, the team performance was outstanding.
“Guys got bonus points when we needed them, guys got pins, guys got majors... My guys really stepped up.”
Luth (38-1), the defending Class M champion at 126, posted a resounding 15-0 technical fall over Brookfield’s Blaise Boullianne at 138.
The Lion senior set the tone by taking down the second-seeded Boullianne off the opening whistle, then dominated the next four minutes by reeling off a series of near-falls.
“I tried to go out there and score as many points as possible from the first whistle,” Luth said, who notched three pins en route to the final.
Boullianne could not counter Luth’s leg ride, as Luth finished off the resounding victory with his sixth near-fall of the bout at the second-period buzzer.
“We talk a lot about how no-hesitation offense is key to success,” Peters said. “First-period takedowns are usually a good indicator of strong performance in the match.
“He doesn’t hesitate. He dominated the match from start to finish.”
Clay Callahan then controlled Ledyard’s Brandon Finney, the No. 2 seed, throughout their 152-pound final, earning a 6-0 victory.
Instead of attempting high-risk, high-scoring maneuvers, Clay Callahan used a takedown in the first period, backed out for a second-period reversal, then tallied a takedown in the final frame to secure a technically-efficient, methodical 6-0 win.
“I’d rather shut him out then have a high-scoring match,” said the undefeated Lion senior, who won the 145-pound Class M title in 2012. He marched to finals this time around by recording two pins and a technical fall, not conceding a point to his four opponents.
“One of my goals tonight was to not give up a point, no matter what opponent I faced,” Clay Callahan said. “I think I’ve given up under ten points the entire year.”
“Today was his fortieth win (without a loss) on the season, he’s hoping to carry that momentum into the Opens.”
At 106, top-seeded Liam Callahan, battling through a shoulder injury, was upset by third-seeded Connor O’Brien of Bacon Academy, 6-0.
After edging No. 4 seed Riley Grieder of Berlin, 4-2, in the semifinals, the junior (35-2) locked horns with O’Brien.
With a heavily-taped shoulder, Liam Callahan, the sixth-place finisher at 106 last year, never recovered after O’Brien’s first-period takedown. The Bobcat sophomore then added another takedown and a two-point nearfall to lock up the state crown.
“It’s a big step for Liam,” said Peters. “He’s had a phenomenal effort over the course of the season.”
Two of Liam Callahan’s classmates, Garcia and Hubler, also added solid performances for the Lions.
Garcia, the fifth seed at 160, pinned his way to the semifinals, where he lost via fall in 2:50 to top-seeded Mikey Amorando of New Fairfield — the eventual champion.
In wrestlebacks, Garcia tangled with No. 10 seed Victor Viera of Bethel, escaping with a grueling 3-1 overtime decision.
Facing second-seeded Brandon Murphy of Stratford in the third-place bout, Garcia then found himself on the losing end of an overtime decision — falling 5-1 after Murphy strung together a takedown-nearfall combination early in overtime.
Hubler also fell to a top seed and eventual champion, as Ledyard’s Colin Grim pinned him at 3:44 of their semifinal matchup.
In the consolation semis, Hubler edged fifth-seeded Robert Tedesco of Bethel, 4-2. Facing No. 12 Kayron Macon of SMSA/University, Hubler lost by a 45-second fall. Hubler previously defeated Macon with a pin in 5:59 in the quarterfinals, before the Tigerhawk senior turned the tables in the battle for third.
At 113, Pouliot, a junior, was knocked into wrestlebacks by top-seeded Brentt Smith of Waterford, the eventual champion, via fall in 1:53.
After losing a 17-6 major decision to third-seeded Nick Kelsey of Branford, Pouliot beat second-seeded Chris Oyola of Platt-Meriden, 8-2, to finish fifth overall.
Luke Stojanowski (145), Wasim Kahn (170), Ben Croll (195) and Luke Edmondson (220) also picked up valuable team points for the Lions.