Wrestling: Foran Lion Palozza a success on all levels

Foran High’s Lion Palooza included pre-match free pizza and soda for students, an outstanding rendition of the National Anthem by members of the school choir, Unified Sport athletes walking wrestlers out to the center mat during introductions, and concluded with a 57-21 victory over Shelton High in the Edna Fraser Gymnasium on Wednesday.

“It was nice to have the kids here,” Lion head coach Dave Esposito said of the full bleachers. “It is great for our wrestlers to have them here. Scheduling the game in the afternoon played to that. Our guys work very hard, have to watch what they eat, and can’t stay out. It was great to see the support.”

Choir Director Theresa Voss led the vocal ensemble of Sydney Maher, Sophia Catalano, Delia Eisenman and James Carlson.

“Each season our team chooses a service project, and this year they wanted to work with Unified Sports and their wonderful program,” Esposito said. “We are bonding with them and it was great to have them here with us today.”

Scott Leiper, Will Johnson, John Lott, Paul Perreli, Johnny Perez, Kenny Szygiel, Max Sauer, Gabby Foster, Kristina Simmons, Kelsey Cugini, Mary O’Connor and Hunter Cain were on hand to greet the Shelton wrestlers.

On the mat

Shelton, an annual contender, had to forfeit six weight classes because of a roster shortage and injury.

Foran took a 24-0 lead after being awarded forfeits in weight classes 160, 171, 182 and 195.

Shelton’s Ray Weiner, a fourth-place finisher in the State Open as a junior, took a 4-1 lead over the Lions’ Barry Held at 220 pounds before winning by fall over the freshman with 39 seconds remaining in the two-minute first period.

In a marque match, Foran heavyweight Phillip Boyles met Gael freshman Matt Weiner.

This was a match where position, and what you did with it, meant everything.

Weiner got the takedown, and Boyles was reluctant to give the Gael any space to maneuver.

After a warning for stalling early in the second period, Boyles looked to post an arm to escape. His worst fears were realized when Weiner got an arm in to get a cradle hold and two back points.

Weiner had a one-point escape to take his lead to 5-1 in the third. Then the match got interesting. Boyles scored a two-point takedown. Liking his chances better from the neutral position, he let Weiner up. Weiner won the takedown for an 8-3 victory.

Foran went up 30-9 with a forfeit win by Anthony DiPietro at 106.

Action returned to the mat at 113 pounds, where Shelton’s Garrett Ziperstein won by 3:42 fall over Tanish Joshi.

Ziperstein used a headlock and got three back points to break a 2-all tie. Leading 5-3 off a restart in the second period, the Gael junior stacked Joshi up to get the pin call.

An awarded forfeit to Kyle Pokornowski at 120 pounds took the Foran advantage to 36-15.

The Lions’ Jordan Lang, a fifth-place finisher in Class M, scored a first-period fall over Ayyan Mumtaz at 126 pounds.

Sean Rago earned the Gaels six points with a pin in 3:12 over Mike Melillo.

The first period was scoreless. Rago got a reversal 30 seconds into the second period, took his time to get hand control, and turned Melillo.

The large crowd on hand got a match it loved, when Foran’s mercurial freshman Raul Valle and Shelton’s 138-pounder Christopher Cavagnuolo went at it.

In a blink of an eye, Valle got the takedown and took a 9-1 lead into the second period.

Cavagnuolo ramped up the oohs and aahs from the bleachers when he rallied within 10-7.

Back on top 14-7, Valle won a pair of throws to increase his advantage and then got got the pin call at the 5:06 mark.

“This is Raul’s first year, and he does things you can’t teach," Esposito said. " Moves yes, that motor…”

In a more traditional match, Foran’s Ethan Edmondson defeated Colin Mengold 9-3 in the 145-pound weight class.

Foran co-captain Mike Giordano met Shelton’s Mike Monaco at 152.

The Lion proved to better on his feet and led 6-2 and 10-4 at the breaks before scoring a pin.

In jayvee action, Foran’s Conner Shallis took on Logan Re, a 138-pound wrestler from Shelton wrestling as a team of one for O’Brien Tech. Tied 4-4 after one. It was 6-6 when the Shallis won by fall.

Foran’s Aidan Clarke pinned Mason Stutheit in 52 seconds at 132.

In another 132-pound bout, Mike Melillo pinned Christian Olavarria at the 54-second mark.