Law's Bannon, Rebentisch to meet the best
Ryan Bannon emerged from the bleachers where his Jonathan Law wrestling teammates had gathered to watch his 132-pound championship bout at the Class M state tournament on Saturday in Milford.
Minutes prior, Bannon, a senior, had dropped a heartbreaking 3-0 decision to top-seeded Howie Kilpatrick of Bacon Academy-Colchester.
“I wrestled pretty good,” said Bannon, who brought a 40-2 record into states. “I couldn’t hit the move I wanted to. The kid was really strong, he kept defending.”
With the crowd at Richetelli Gymnasium, including supporters from crosstown rivals Foran High, loudly cheering on Bannon, Kilpatrick, a standout junior for Bacon Academy, scored three times in the second period to deny Bannon a state crown.
Kilpatrick, starting from the down position at the beginning of the second period, opened the scoring with an escape at the edge of the mat a split second before the grapplers tumbled out of bounds.
Then, Kilpatrick was awarded a contested takedown to push his advantage to 3-0, riding out Bannon from the top position in the third period to secure the title.
The takedown loomed large in the low-scoring bout, as Bannon looked to fend off Kilpatrick’s shot by sinking in a wizer.
“I had the wizer in,” said Bannon, who placed in Class M at 126 last year. “It was a good match, a tough match. I just couldn’t get it done.”
Bannon was the top finisher for coach Matt Schoonmaker’s Lawmen, who placed 15th overall at the Class M tournament with 63 points.
Ledyard High raced to the team title with 252.5 points, followed by Foran (153), New Fairfield (143), Avon (142) and Branford (132.5).
Along with Bannon, senior Samantha Rebentisch also reached the medal podium, placing sixth at 106 pounds.
The duo both qualified for the State Open, which begins on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.
Rebentisch (27-21) is the highest female finisher since Montville’s Jessica Bennett qualified for the State Open by finishing runner-up in Class M back in 2009, as Bennett lost a 5-1 decision to former Lawman standout Rob Lonergan.
Seeded No. 11, Rebentisch lost her first match, 4-2, to Waterford’s No. 6 seed Noah Concascia.
In wrestlebacks, the senior started her march toward the top six with a 3-0 decision over No. 14 seed Alex Starr of Lyman Memorial/Windham Tech.
She then upset fifth-seeded Nick Rocha of Branford, 6-5, before edging No. 7 seed Alec Opsal of New Fairfield, 4-2.
That moved her into the consolation semifinals, where second-seeded Matthew Dowler of St. Bernard/Norwich Tech posted a 10-0 major victory.
Berlin’s Riley Greider, the fourth seed, defeated Rebentisch, 9-0, in the fifth-place bout.
Bannon, the second seed at 132, opened up with a fall in 3:04 over SMSA/University’s Christian Echevarria.
He then vanquished seventh-seeded Jesus Toro of Platt in 1:13, before toppling third-seeded Edward Rivera of Branford, 11-3, in the semifinals.
After finishing second, Bannon is looking ahead to the Opens, where he went 2-2 as a junior.
“I’m looking forward to next weekend, trying to place top six and going to New Englands,” he said.
Tim Rebentisch (113), Phil Manes (120), Mark Bluemer (138), Max German (152), Anthony Volturno (160) and Chris Krouch (170) also won matches for Law.
Wrestling at the State Open will continue all day on Saturday.