Wrestling: Foran comes back to take third at Duals

The Foran High wrestling team as a whole showed on Saturday what the Lions will need in the postseason — the ability to come back from a loss to post a win.

“We have a very solid lineup and we look to do well in the league and states,” Foran head coach Dave Esposito said prior to the Trumbull Duals, which featured nine strong teams. “To get past a Ledyard (who outpointed Foran for the Class M title in 2015) it will come down to wrestling back and winning those third- and fifth-place matches.”

The 11th-ranked Lions made it to the Pool A finals on Saturday with wins over Pomperaug-Southbury (48-26) and Glastonbury (65-15). That left No. 8 Trumbull High standing between them and a match with Pool B champion Newtown High. The Eagles scored a 35-32 victory over Foran. They moved on to defeat the No. 1 ranked Nighthawks, 48-27, for the team title.

Foran faced Xavier-Middletown for third place. The Lions won the first seven matches and defeated the No. 6 Falcons, 56-15, to improve to 10-2 on the season.

Ryan Luth opened at 138 pounds with an 11-1 major decision. Michael Ross followed with a 15-0 win by technical fall. Ronnie Gaul pinned in 2:27 at 152 pounds and Umer Khan pinned in 2:33.

Noah Hubler was awarded a forfeit at 170, Qasim Khan won a 6-1 decision before Colby Stuart scored a 7-6 victory for a 33-0 lead.

Xavier recorded a pin, before Foran won four more.

Luke Edmondson pinned in 3:13 at heavyweight, Michael Giordano pinned in 1:07 at 106 and Jordan Lang was awarded a forfeit. Gino Esposito’s 18-2 win by technical fall at 120 brought the score to 56-6.

“We have a good mix of wrestlers, with four seniors and fifteen freshmen joining the program,” said Esposito.

While the final brought together the Pool champions; Foran’s match with Trumbull’s was the most entertaining. Trumbull was fifth in Class LL a year ago. Foran placed second in Class M. Both squads return a strong nucleus and provided all on hand a reason to remain focused through the 14 bouts. It was no surprise that things would be decided in the last match.

Trumbull had bolted to an 11-0 lead behind a pin by Alex Greco and a 15-0 win by technical fall by Michael Mirmina.

Foran stormed back behind pins from Luth (132 pounds), Jubilee Witte (138 pounds) and Ross (145 pounds). Michael Greco brought Trumbull within 18-14 with a 6-3 victory at 152 pounds.

Chris Briganti took the mat for the Eagles at 160 pounds to face Umer Khan, in a matchup of freshmen. Briganti led 3-2 after one period. Khan escaped late in the second frame to move within 5-4.

Briganti went in front 8-4 with one minute remaining. Khan countered with a reversal, gave up the escape, and got the takedown to make it 9-8 at the 33-second mark.

Khan looked to turn Briganti for the win, but Briganti stunned everyone when he caught the Lion high and reversed and pinned simultaneously with 15 ticks of the clock remaining.

“That match was big,” said coach Esposito. “Two freshman going for the win. We wanted Umer to let back up and go for the takedown and overtime. The gym was loud and he couldn’t hear us. He went for back points and got caught.”

That win gave Trumbull a 20-18 lead. Joey Ryan then met Hubler in a match between 171-pound veterans used to having their way.

Hubler used his strength to break away late in the second period to take a 1-0 lead. He tried a cradle early in the second. Ryan slipped his head free to escape for a 1-1 tie. Three restarts later, Ryan turned a quick ankle pick into a takedown with 17 seconds remaining for a 3-1 victory.

Down 23-18, Foran answered back.

Qasim Khan, a sophomore at 182 pounds, took a 7-1 lead into the second period before earning the pin at 2:57 for a 24-23 team lead.

Foran’s Stuart then used his experience edge to keep Trumbull’s Jared Platt of his back for what seemed like the entire six minutes (actually 3:50 of the 4:29 minute match). Platt wouldn’t give in and the five-point technical fall saved his team a point.

Patrick Grinder made it three straight Foran wins, but it took overtime to defeat Mike Maresca 3-1. That brought up the heavyweight bout and the drama that followed.

Foran led 32-23 and sent Edmondson, a State Open runner-up a year ago, out to meet the Eagles’ Desmond Washington, who led 2-0 after one period and 4-3 after two.

Edmondson escaped in the third to send the match to a one-minute overtime.

Off a restart with 18 seconds left, Washington got behind Edmondson for the two-point takedown.

“That was a wrestling match,” Trumbull coack Niko Filippakis said. “Everyone is saying Desmond’s win is an upset, I don’t think it was at all. He shoots like a lightweight and I’m proud of him.”

Trumbull was within a pin of tying the match. Matt Ryan made that a reality when the sophomore scored a 35-second fall to tie things at 32.

That brought up a dream matchup between juniors Trumbull’s Tristan Haviland and Foran’s Gino Esposito.

Haviland placed third in Class LL as a sophomore. Esposito was second in Class M.

Haviland took a 4-0 lead 56 seconds into the match and that score stood up through a scoreless second period.

Esposito chose the neutral position for the third, then faked shooting underneath and got behind Haviland to make it 4-2 at the 1:50 mark. Haviland escaped at 1:33. Two restarts later, with 23 seconds on the clock, Esposito again looked to get around Haviland, but the Eagle hung him up as the clock ran out.

“That was great theatre,”coach Esposito said. “Probably the two best 113 pounders around went out and wrestled their match, The two have worked out as partners for three of four years. There were no surprises. Similar styles and a great match.”