Wrestling: Foran High Lions have system in place

The Foran High wrestling team set a state record for most wins in a season, finishing with a record of 35-3.

The Lions won the SCC Division I and SCC Tournament titles for the first time and then went on to capture the program’s first Class M state championship.

They finished seventh at the State Open and ninth in New England.

Head coach Dave Esposito had an answer ready when asked what the Lions would have to do to replicate their success a year ago.

“It’s a process,” he said. “We look to get better every day, as a person, as a wrestler, as a team. Last year no one spoke about winning the SCC or taking states. We talked about getting better every day, every match.

“Those accolades were unbelievable. And I’m so proud of every member of our team for making it happen. But if we all perform to our best every day, every match — and we don’t earn all those accolades — that’s okay. It’s the process and the wrestlers are committed to it.”

Esposito was named SCC, Class M and New Haven Register Coach of the Year for the second year in a row. Noel Luth was voted Class M assistant Coach of the Year for the second time.

Luke Edmondson won his third consecutive Class M state title in the heavyweight division and was also State Open champion.

Michael Ross won his second Class M state title, finished third in the Open and third in New England. He was the SCC Champion and also voted SCC Wrestler of the Year.

Gino Esposito was Class M state champion and took fifth at the Opens.

Ryan Luth and Noah Hubler both were SCC champions and Class M runners-up.

Ryan Luth finished third at Opens and second at New Englands.

Qasim Khan was Class M runner-up, Jubilee Witte finished third and Will Mauro was sixth, all qualifying for the State Open.

Academically, Witte, Hubler, Ryan Luth and Gino Esposito were named Academic All Americans.

Last year, the team’s Autism Awareness campaign raised $2,500 for autism projects at Foran High School.

With four returning state finalists and a strong core of young talent, what do the Lions have on tap?

“We plan to compete for SCC and Class M championships again,” coach Esposito said. “We’ve been blessed the last few years in building this program. Last year we had thirty-eight wrestlers and this year we have forty-six kids.

"We have experience coming back. With a strong roster it creates competition for varsity spots each season.”

Foran is ranked fourth in the Norwich Bulletin State Wrestling Coaches Preseason Poll.

“Losing Luke Edmondson, well he is impossible to replace,” coach Esposito said. “That was our biggest concern, but we have two first-year wrestlers come out in Andre Vella (220 pounds) and Teddy DeBoise (heavyweight). They are strong, aggressive and are learning so quick.”

Another loss was unexpected.

“Gino wrestled all summer, but felt knee pain,” his father and coach said. “He had surgery to get better blood flow and it looks like he might be able to come back in mid January.”

Without the junior standout, the Lions will shuffle the lineup.

“Senior Elijah Moretti returns and he will wrestle up (at 132 pounds) until Gino makes it back, and then he’ll go back down (to 126 pounds),” the Lion coach said. “Junior Will Mauro (now at 126) will switch weights (to 120 pounds).”

Michael Giordano, now a sophomore, is back to wrestle at 106 pounds. A couple of freshmen will wrestle off for 113.

Sophomore Tyler Stanko is at 138, followed by junior Ryan Luth (145 pounds) and senior Michael Ross (152 pounds). Senior Colby Stuart and junior Ron Gaul will be at 160 pounds. Sophomore Umer Khan will be at 170 pounds) and junior Qasim Khan at 182 pounds.

“Being two or three deep in each class gives us a constant push each day,” coach Esposito said. “We have dual matches with Fairfield Warde (ranked third) and Bristol Eastern (ninth) and that’s a tribute to our kids. They challenge themselves and those programs took notice and now want to compete with them.”

After wrestling at Amity High on Dec. 14, Foran High will compete in the C.J. McCormack Tournament in Berlin on Saturday, Dec. 17, beginning at 9 a.m.

The Lions visit Fairfield Prep on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 5 p.m.