Law's legacy of excellence in good hands

Darryl Arroyo won Jonathan Law’s first state wrestling title in 1979. Since then, the Lawmen have forged out a place as one of the best program of grapplers in the state. Coach Matt Schoonmaker is proud of that tradition and has a plan to make sure it continues.

“We wrestle the best teams we can schedule,” Schoonmaker said before his team hosted the Law Duals on Saturday, Jan. 18.

“We don’t duck anyone. Right now we’re 4-10. That’s okay. We came into the season young, but those matches toughened us up and I can see us finishing strong and getting to our goal (20 plus victories).”

Law improved to 7-10 by defeating Harding of Bridgeport (51-018), Masuk of Monroe (45-35) and East Haven (55-18), It lost to New Britain (44-18).

“Overall we sit with a record of 7-10 overall and 1-0 in the SCC B Division,” Schoonmaker said. “Our overall record is not indicative of how good we are as a team however.

“We have wrestled head to head against No. 2, Xavier, No. 5 Ledyard, No. 7 Simsbury, No. 10 Farmington and Timberlane (New Hampshire), which who has won five of the last six New England Championships.”

While Law is stringing points together to better its chances of coming out on top in dual matches, it is also getting its top matmen ready for postseason success.

Senior captain Phil Manes is 21-7 overall and 4-1 in SCC matches at 126 pounds.

Junior Max German is 19-7 and 4-0 in the league at 160 pounds.

Timothy Rebentisch has a 17-7 record and the junior 120-pounder in 4-0 in the SCC.

Junior Sean Berg is 16-5 overall and 4-0 in the league at 132 pounds.

Senior captain Kurt Holden is 17-7 overall and 4-1 in the SCC at 170 pounds.

“Max German is our most experienced and seasoned wrestler in terms of experience, as he wrestled with the youth program,” Schoonmaker said.

“He has started to expand his overall repertoire, especially in the top offensive position. He is a threat to beat almost anyone if his mindset is right. I never count him out of a match due to his experience and competitive nature.

“Manes and Holden are only third-year wrestlers as they came out as sophomores. Phil is having a fantastic season for us and Kurt is doing very well, despite limited time last season as a starter.”

Schoomaker is looking for the tough schedule to pay dividends.

“I felt that challenging them early and exposing them to top competition would benefit them in the long run,” he said.

“Our individual records are not as good as they could be due to our difficult schedule, but it should theoretically pay off come tournament time.

“We still have tough matches left with teams that are having great seasons such as Derby and Maloney. And we may also run into current No. 7 Newtown at a tournament at the end of the year.

“Our schedule is set up nicely for us to again have a winning season and possibly win the SCC B Division if we can stay healthy.

“Outside of Max German, we, for whatever reason, do not get kids with extensive youth experience.

“My feeder program is 95 percent grade nine and yet we continually compete against and seek out the best teams in the state and are successful.

“Junior Jordan Betz is 5-5 as a spot starter. Eric Oulette is 4-2 when I slide him into the lineup. Zach Anderson (106), Luke Centore (113) and Matt Grace (120) are all competing and winning as freshmen.

“We have three wrestlers with two and three years experience prior to high school.That’s three out of a roster of twenty-seven.”

Schoomaker’s squad has averaged over 20 wins per season since the former Law standout and assistant coach took control nine years ago.

The Lawmen are approaching their 525th program win, which is top 15 in the state all-time.

German had pins in 2:39 over Harding and 2:57 over East Haven. He dropped an 11-10 decision to New Britain and went up a class and lost 3-2 to Masuk.

In the Harding match after having a bye to open the five-team dual, Justin Cortes was awarded a forfeit in the 195-pound class.

Dylan Lucas doubled the lead with a pin of Armone McKenzie in 1:35 of their 220-pound bout. Lucas got the quick takedown and added a pair of near falls before getting the fall.

Law’s Abe Ocak’s forfeit win in the heavyweight division brought the score to 18-0.

Anderson took the mat against Harding’s Amir Phipps and the freshman battled the entire way. Three times he earned escapes and stayed off his back, but Phipps scored the 12-5 decision to get the Presidents on the board.

Centore’s forfeit win at 113 made it 24-3.

In a tight battle at 120 pounds, when Rebentisch met Hector Reyes.

Rebentisch scored the first takedown, only to see Reyes tie things at 2 after one period with a late reversal.

Reyes hit another switch midway through the second period, and coach Eddie Santiago’s senior did a great job riding out with 6-2 victory,

Manes took Harding’s Ataa Phipps to his back off the whistle for a 5-0 lead and pinned him in 45 seconds to stake Law to a 30-6 advantage.

Berg and Harding’s Jonathan Maldonado went at it in the 132-pound bout.

Berg scored a reversal at 1:27 of the first period to tie the match at 2, then added two back points at the 40-second mark of the frame.

On top for the second period, Berg turned Maldonado midway through and took a 6-2 lead into the third, where he hit a switch at 1:24 and rode out his 8-2 triumph.

Jordan Betz was next up for Law, and the junior took on senior Marco Lopez in a grueling six-minute bout.

A deep waist takedown by Betz brought the score to 5-4 Lopez at the end of two periods.

Betz earned an escape to tie things at 5 and then took Lopez down with 1:22 remaining. He added two back points for a satisfying 9-5 victory.

Mark Bluemer wasted no time in his 145-pound match, as Law’s tri-captain caught Juan Matias in a cradle by the edge of the mat and got the pin call in 40 seconds for a 42-6 lead.

The next great match came at 152 pounds, with Law’s Jason Savisky edging Rich Lazarte 6-4.

A senior, Savisky gave up a takedown with two seconds left in the opening frame, but escaped with five ticks on the clock in the second period.

Down 2-1 and in the bottom position, Savisky sat out at the 58-second mark to take a 3-2 lead. He added three back points, before Lazarte had a late reversal to complete the scoring.

German won by 2:49 fall over Sam Abraku to boost the lead to 45-6.

Holden at 170 pounds lost by first period pin to Xavier Bass and Harding’s Jason Taylor was awarded a forfeit at 182 pounds.

New Britain was next up for the Lawmen.

Centore won by 24-second fall, at 113, Rebentisch pinned his 120-pound foe in 1:09, Berg posted a 13-2 major decision at 132 and Bluemer scored a 5-1 decision at 145.

Versus Masuk, Rebentisch (2:12), Manes (49 seconds), Betz (5:35), Bluemer (1:27) and Holden (1:20) won by fall.

Anderson scored a 5-1 decision at 106 and Lucas was awarded a forfeit at 220.

Winning on the mat against East Haven were Anderson (10-0 major decision), Berg (50-second pin), Bluemer (2:47 pin), Savisky (8-4 decision), German (2:57 pin) and Holden (1:07 pin).