Wednesday, in the final dual meet of the season, the two teams from Bristol will battle for hometown supremacy. #6 Bristol Central takes on a Bristol Eastern team that has only lost two meets this season.
More than just another dual meet, this match is a battle for pride and emotions will run high. Furthermore, it is a crucial CCC South matchup that can have big implications on conference standings and tournament seeding.
Both squads are talented throughout the lineup and both will be driven to dominate in this cross-town rivalry match, as this date was certainly circled on their calendars from the start of the season.
Central gets the nod for a more successful season to date: they have dual wins over Waterford, Bacon Academy and South Windsor; a team title at the Plainville Invitational over RHAM and West Springfield (MA); three champions in a fifth-place effort at MassConn Fusion; and nine medalists at the Kris McDonald Islip Cup (NY).
Eastern, while not as accomplished thus far, certainly has taken on enough top-level competition to be ready for a brawl with the Rams. The Lancers gained out-of-state experience in fourth-place effort at the Minisink Valley (NY) Invitational, where they collected eight medals.
They also fared well against CT competition, compiling a 22-2 record with wins over Berlin, Nonnewaug and Plainville. Eastern’s only losses were to Warde and Ledyard, and rest assured that the lessons they learned in those losses will be utilized against Central.
Both teams are exceptionally talented in the lower weights (103-130), but Central has a slight edge. The Rams are led by undefeated Nick Cyr (130) and a battle-tested Colin Lombardi (125). They also know they can rely on Mike Pokorny (112) and Joe Galvin (119) in the tough matches.
Eastern has one of the top 103-112 combos in CT in Andrew Chase and Josh Dess. Both are in the top eight in the state in their respective class and can score crucial bonus points for the Lancers. Herbie Brown (130) is an unconventional wrestler who has good hips and can scramble and use his leverage well.
While Cyr and Dess will be favorites in their matches, both Brown and Pokorny can frustrate and contend with their higher-ranked counterparts, and an upset would go a long way in shifting the outcome of the match.
The middleweights (135-160) are fairly even and could be a push. Seth Vose (135) and Austin Darley (160) are sure-fired points scorers for Central, while Brandon Mals (140) will pick up points for Eastern.
The Lancers have an advantage in the upperweights (171-285), with strong 1-2-3 punch of Matt Piazza (189), Tyrell Eason (215) and Brett Akerly (285). Akerly will be the underdog in a matchup DJ Sanderson, but overall, Eastern may have the tougher lineup up top.
On paper, Central has a better team that should win on Wednesday. But in a rivalry match with emotions elevated and so much in the CCC South on the line, upsets and X-factors will certainly play a huge part in the outcome.