Big matches bring big opportunities, and no meet this weekend is as big as the quad-meet of #2 New Milford, #3 Bacon Academy, #5 Bristol Central and Fitch. Though it is extremely challenging to face two other top-five teams in a single day, the rewards can be enormous.
The showdown in Bristol could reorder the top five of the state coach’s poll. If Bacon or BC go undefeated, they will surpass New Milford for #2. Any number of 1-1 scenarios can also shuffle the order of the top five.
If New Milford can beat both Bacon and BC, they will make an excellent and near-undisputable case to return to the #1 spot, having already knocked off three other top-ten teams this season (Danbury, Warde and Hand).
Each team has the chance to move up in the polls, and they have all shown they are capable of capitalizing on such opportunities.
The undefeated Rams (12-0) proved that they belong among the state’s top five with a strong showing in Windham. They have consistently stepped up to the plate when the opportunity is available, as seen in their Week-1 win over then-#8 South Windsor and their domination of then-#5 Waterford at the Whippet Duals.
New Milford is also undefeated (13-0) and are wrestling with a chip on their shoulder since being dropped out of the top spot in the state poll. Clutch performances by Conor Kirkegard (103) and Alex Thalassinos (112) have kept the Green Wave rolling.
Bacon took on some of MA’s best this past weekend and gained valuable experience in a loss to MA #3 Franklin. The Bobcats have not lost to a CT team this year and have shown that they can win the big meets too, having already knocked off Waterford and Ledyard.
All three teams have shown great preparation and scouting, a willingness to bump wrestlers and change lineups and the depth of talent to do so successfully. They all are solid throughout their lineups with few holes.
New Milford has an extremely talented lightweight group of Kirkegard, Thalassinos, Nick Amorando (119), Ian Curtis (125), Andrew Golden (130) and Anthony Terlizzi (135). They also are dangerous from 152-189, because all four of those wrestlers (Karl Bradshaw, Matt Saraceno, Brian Richman and Adam Lynch) can and have moved up a weight and won big matches.
Bacon’s “We Not Me” philosophy has every wrestler ready to sacrifice and give for the betterment of the team. Dan Thompson showed that when he moved up to 171 to take on Ledyard’s Shane Sullivan and kept the Colonels’ top wrestler from notching six points. They are solid throughout the lineup and have standouts in Nick Dodge (119), Sean McAllister (125), PJ Mickens (145), Aren Norman (189) and Dylan Kniska (285).
Bristol Central knows how to smell blood and go for the fall, as seen in their eight-pin effort against Waterford. They relish the role of spoiler and utilize an attacking, aggressive style and a team-oriented effort, seen in their wrestlers’ willingness to bump (130-pounder Nick Cyr wrestled at 135 and 140 at the Whippet Duals) and the cheering and intensity on the sidelines.
New Milford has shown themselves to be the best dual team in CT, to date, so they hold the best chances of pulling out a 3-0 day in Bristol. They also have faced the best in-state dual competition of the three so far, so they are battle-hardened and ready.
But both Bacon and BC have a point to prove and will be gunning for the Green Wave. BC has home court advantage and again plays the underdog role that they have thrived in this season. Bacon has a deep and talented squad that match up well with New Milford, so individual performances and bonus points will play a big part of that match.
Beyond the team ramifications, the matchup of three of the state’s best teams will bring several potential Open match previews. It will be a chance for individual wrestlers to make their case for top contender status, and in the case of NM vs BC, seeding points for the Class L tournament will be up for grabs.
Some of the top potential individual matchups are:
Bacon V. New Milford: Evan Sheehan (B) / Alex Thalassinos (NM) (112): Nick Dodge (B) / Nick Amorando (NM) (119): Sean McAllister (B) / Ian Curtis (NM) (125): Aren Norman (B) / Adam Lynch (NM) (189).
New Milford V. Bristol Central: Thalassinos (NM) / Mike Pokorny (BC) (112): Ian Curtis (NM) / Colin Lombardi (BC) (125): Andrew Golden (NM) / Nick Cyr (BC) (130).
Bristol Central V. Bacon: Pokorny (BC) / Sheehan (B) (112): Lombardi (BC) / McAllister (B) (125): Seth Vose (BC) / PJ Mickens (B) (145): DJ Sanderson (BC) / Dylan Kniska (B) (285).