Wrestling: Foran Lions off to strong start

Coach Dave Esposito’s Foran wrestling team kicked off the season with a 56-20 victory over Amity-Woodbridge on Dec. 16 in Milford.

“We’re a very strong team, we have a lot of experience at every weight, and I expect good things from them,” Esposito said of his wrestlers. “Our younger guys are getting better every day, and I couldn’t ask for a better group of seniors – they’re hard-working, they’re honors students, and all around great kids.”

The Lions started off their meet on a strong note and never looked back. Junior captain Gino Esposito set the tone for the night with a tech fall in the 113-pound class, taking down Amity’s Matt Rothman in just fifteen seconds and adding a near fall shortly thereafter. Esposito let Rothman go and promptly took him down again, and the cat-and-mouse game continued into the second period until Esposito racked up a 19-4 lead 45 seconds into the second period.

Amity tied it up with a tech fall in the 120-pound slot by senior Jake Cala.

With the score even at 5-5, Foran’s Elijah Moretti took the mat against Amity’s Jared Fucci in the 126-pound class for what turned out to be the longest and most exciting match of the day. When all was said and done — seven periods later — Moretti walked away with a rulebook-decided win on points.

The match got off to a slow start and remained scoreless through the entire first period.  Fucci opted for the defensive position to open up the second frame. The first point of the match was scored ten seconds later when Fucci escaped Moretti’s hold, but he yielded a technical violation point shortly thereafter for stalling. Moretti finally took a shot late in the second period but Fucci held him off, and the second period closed out with the pair tied at 1.

Moretti took the defensive position to start the third and fought Fucci for 30 seconds before escaping his hold, then added another point when the ref called out Fucci for locking his hands. Moretti brought Fucci down just out of bounds with 32 seconds left, leaving the score at 3-1. Fucci took down Moretti with just 12 seconds left in the third period to stay alive and push the match into overtime.

The pair returned to neutral for the sudden-death fourth frame and remained tied up for the entire minute, neither wrestler being able to work a match-ending takedown. Fucci was given the choice for the fifth period but deferred to Moretti, who opted for the defensive position and took advantage with an escape partway through the 30-second frame.

Fucci took the defensive position in the sixth, the second thirty-second period, and escaped just ten seconds in to tie the score again.

Moretti assumed the top position to open up the sudden-death tiebreaker seventh frame, and held down Fucci for the entire period. Because Fucci was unable to escape, Moretti was awarded the victory and put the Lions on top 8-5.

Foran’s fans hardly had time to recover from the nail-biter before senior captain Jubilee Witte took down and pinned his opponent in just eight seconds, extending the Lions’ lead to 14-5. Foran tacked on another six points when Ryan Luth won by forfeit in the 138-pound class.

Junior Michael Ross, who was crowned Class M champion in the 132-pound class last February as a Bunnell Bulldog, made his Foran debut with a 26-second pin in the 145.

Ronnie Gaul kept things going for Foran in the 152-pound class, taking down Amity’s Nathan Morrissey 26 seconds into the first period. He added two near falls over the next minute before Morrissey briefly escaped, but Gaul took him down again and closed out the first period with a 10-1 lead.

Morrissey chose the top position to start the second frame and Gaul earned the reversal 29 seconds into the period, securing the pin eight seconds later.

160-pounder Umer Khan took down Amity’s Matthew Bonvicini just eight seconds into the match, earning the fall in 22.

Senior captain Noah Hubler (170) and Qasim Khan (182) both won by forfeit, extending Foran’s lead to 50-5.

Colby Stuart kept things going in the 195-pound slot with a 12-second takedown, pinning Amity’s Charlie Hoddinott just five seconds later.

Amity chipped away at Foran’s 56-5 lead over the next three matches, beginning with a narrow victory in the 220.

The Spartans’ John Benanto earned the early takedown but Nick Zavaglia managed to escape, and the match entered the second period with Benanto leading 2-1. Zavaglia chose the defensive position to open up the second frame, hoping for an escape and a quick point, but Benanto flipped him over for the pin.

Spartan senior Nikolas Photos and Foran defending Class M heavyweight champion Luke Edmondson squared off in the heavyweight matchup, and the match remained scoreless through the first frame.

Photos opted for the defensive position to open up the second frame and broke Edmondson’s hold 35 seconds into the period. The two remained tied up for the next minute and a half, and the period ended with Photos maintaining a slim 1-0 lead

Edmondson took the defensive position to open up the third and took the lead with a reversal halfway through the period, but was caught locking his hands fifteen seconds later and gave up a crucial technical violation point, tying the score. Photos broke free shortly thereafter, taking a 3-2 lead with the one-point escape. Edmonson tried to bring him down late in the period, but Photos spun him around to earn the takedown and seal the deal on his upset victory.

The meet concluded with a 1:56 pin of Foran freshman Michael Giordano by Amity’s Christian Chadwick, taking the final score to 56-20.