2016 NHSCA National Championships
April 1-3, 2016
Virginia Beach, VA
By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
April 3 – Newtown’s Anthony Falbo became the first Connecticut wrestler to win back-to-back National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) national championships when he beat Nevada’s Andrew Berreyesa, 4-3 to win a national title at 170 pounds in the NHSCA Junior National tournament on Sunday in Virginia Beach, Va.
Falbo is just the second Connecticut wrestler to ever win a NHSCA title. A year ago, he won the NHSCA’s Sophomore Nationals at 160 pounds. Ledyard’s T.J. Hepburn won a Junior National title in 2006.
Falbo (56-0, 6-0 NHSCA) was one of eight Connecticut wrestlers to win All-American honors by finishing in the top eight of their respective weight classes at this weekend’s NHSCA national championship tournaments.
Jon Errico, a senior at Brunswick School in Greenwich, finished second in the Senior Nationals at 145. In the Junior Nationals, E.O. Smith’s Robert Hartling (106) was fourth while Newtown’s Joseph Accousti (160) was sixth. In the Sophomore Nationals, Danbury’s Jakob Camacho (113) finished fourth while at the Freshman Nationals, Xavier’s Jesse Polansky (285) was fifth while Danbury’s Kyle Fields (120) finished eighth.
Falbo was outstanding as he went through a challenging weight class. In his six victories, he beat four All-Americans. His last four matches were against eventual All-American wrestlers.
“I came in focused and ready to go,” Falbo said. “I had a game plan for each opponent and I knew what I was up against. I knew it would be tough. It was great competition. I had some great battles.”
Falbo wrestled for Newtown at 182 pounds this winter but he decided to drop to 170 for the nationals.
In six matches, he gave up just one takedown and had 17 of his own. “I felt very comfortable,” he said. “You have to take risks. You have to wrestle to win. You can’t hold anything back.”
After his first two wins in the tournament, Falbo beat Frankie Guida of Pennsylvania, 7-2 in the round of 16. Guida would wrestle back to finish seventh. In the quarterfinals, Falbo pinned Oklahoma’s Alexander Kauffman in 5:56.
Kauffman finished eighth in the tournament.
In the semifinals, Falbo trailed 2-1 with 56 seconds left in the second period to Casey Cornett of Kentucky. But Falbo escaped with 31 seconds remaining in the period and took a 4-2 lead with a takedown with 10 seconds left in the period.
Cornett cut the lead to one with a third period escape but Falbo took command with a takedown with 51 seconds remaining for a 6-3 lead. Falbo held on for a 6-5 victory.
In the final, Berreyesa, the Nevada state champion from Reno, took a 1-0 lead in the second period with an escape. But Falbo took a 2-1 lead with a takedown with 25 seconds remaining.
In the third period, a reversal with 1:05 left in the bout gave Falbo a 4-1 edge. Falbo lost a point due to stalling and gave up an escape with one second left but the victory and the national championship was his with a 4-3 victory.
“It feels amazing, especially with the bracket I had,” he said. “It’s pretty awesome. I’ve been working hard every day.”
Falbo spent plenty of time the past few weeks at Iowa Style, a club he trains at in Somers, N.Y.
Errico had a splendid tournament winning five straight bouts before dropping a 3-1 decision to Luke Webber of Montana in the championship match. Tied at 1-1, Webber got a takedown with 1:24 left in the third period to take the lead for good.
Errico got to the final with a 9-4 win over Rian Burris of South Carolina in the semifinals and a 9-4 win over New Jersey’s Austin Scrivani in the quarterfinals.
Accousti wrestled a tough tournament, winning five close matches and taking sixth at 160 in the Junior Nationals. He beat Ohio’s Quentin Thatcher, 6-4, in the round of 64 with a takedown with 1:25 remaining. Accousti earned a 7-5 win over New York’s Morgan Seller with an escape with 1:15 remaining and followed that with a 5-3 win over Oklahoma’s Tanner Johnson. After a loss in the quarterfinals, Accousti beat Virginia’s Stanley Smeltzer with a two-point near fall in the second OT to earn a 5-4 win.
Hartling (47-4, 4-2 NHSCA) got a reversal with 1:03 remaining to beat New York’s Ryan Mock in the quarterfinals, 9-7 at 106 pounds. After losing his semifinal bout to Jake Ferri of Massachusetts, 19-7, Hartling beat New Jersey’s Kenny Kerwin by pin. Hartling finished fourth after losing to Florida’s Elijah Varona, 9-6.
In the Sophomore Nationals at 113, Danbury’s Jakob Camacho (50-5, 6-2 NHSCA) won his first three bouts before falling 3-1 in the quarterfinals to Missouri’s Cam Fusco, giving up a takedown in OT.
In the consolation round, Camacho won three straight bouts. He had an escape and takedown with six seconds left to beat New Jersey’s Antonio Mininno, 12-9. In his next bout, Camacho had a takedown with 1:20 left in a 5-3 win over Louis Newell of Pennsylvania. Camacho finished fourth after a 6-4 loss to Michael McAteeno of Missouri.
At the Freshman Nationals, Xavier’s Jesse Polansky (285) advanced to the semifinals before losing his first match. He finished fifth overall. Danbury’s Kyle Fields (120) won three straight consolation round matches to earn All-American status and finish eighth overall.
Several Connecticut wrestlers picked up multiple victories in the tournament. At the Freshman Nationals, Danbury’s Ben LeBlanc (106) went 4-2 with three straight consolation round victories.
In the Sophomore Nationals, Montville’s Noah Caskey (113), New Milford’s Mel Ortiz (120) and Xavier’s Ryan Devivo (152) each went 3-2 in the tournament. Devivo fell one win shy of All-American honors.
In the Junior Nationals, Foran’s Gino Esposito (113) and Newtown’s Ed Lovely (138) were each 4-2 and one win away from All-American honors. Esposito won four straight consolation round matches. Joey Rossetti (138) of Phillips Exeter and Somers’ Jason Rheault (182) each went 3-2.
At the Senior Nationals, Somers’ Jacob Berry Parker (170) went 4-2 and fell one win shy of All-American honors. Danbury’s Jeremy Fields (138), Nonnewaug’s Kieran Duggan (152) and Notre Dame-Fairfield’s Hakim Fleming (285) each went 3-2 in the tournament.
In the team competition, Connecticut finished 10th in the Junior Nationals with three All-Americans led by Falbo. Connecticut was 21st in the Senior Nationals, 20th at the Sophomore Nationals and 19th at the Freshman Nationals.
Danbury’s Ryan Jack (95) and New Milford’s Javon Priar (119) earned All-American honors for the second straight year in the Middle School Division.
After dropping an overtime decision, Jack won three consolation bouts in a row including a pair of one-point decisions to earn All-American honors. Jack finished eighth. A year ago, he was seventh at 85 pounds.
Priar (119) went 4-1 in the tournament to finish third. He dropped a 3-1 match in the semifinals but won two consolation round matches by a combined score of 12-1 to take third. A year ago, he was fourth at 105.
Danbury’s A.J. Kovacs (135) finished fifth with a record of 5-2.
Joey Hulse, 120, Danbury, 0-2
Alex Starr, 120, Lyman Memorial/WT, 1-2
Matthew Dowler, 126, St. Bernard, 0-2
Roger Moyer, 126, Lyman Memorial/WT, 0-2
Austin Sherman, 126, Fairfield Ludlowe, 2-2
Dante Montanaro, 132, Trumbull, 0-2
Matt Conte, 138, Westhill, 0-2
Jarrett Debowsky, 138, East Hampton, 0-2
Bryan Rojas, 138, New Milford, 2-2
Jeremy Fields, 138, Danbury, 3-2
Jordan Baker, 145, Middletown, 1-2
Kieran Duggan, 152, Nonnewaug, 3-2
Brett Leonard, 152, New Milford, 4-2
Samuel Lindblom, 152, Waterford, 1-2
Jacob Berry Parker, 170, Somers, 4-2
Mitchell Laflam, 170, Lyman Memorial/WT, 2-2
Matthew Adam, 182, Danbury, 0-2
Austin Caffrey, 182, Killingly, 3-2
Daric Johnson, 220, Ledyard, 0-2
Robert Newton, 220, Norwich Tech, 0-2
Hakim Fleming, 285, Notre Dame-Fairfield, 3-2
Dylan Renshaw, 285, Norwich Tech, 0-2
Josh Angel, 285, Killingly, 0-2
Robert Hartling, 106, E.O. Smith, 4-2, 4th
Bo Nguyen, 106, Ledyard, 1-2
Nicholas Arborio, 113, Berlin, 2-2
Gino Esposito, 113, Foran, 4-2
Kasim Khan, 113, Fairfield Prep, 0-2
Jack Pelley, 113, East Windsor, 0-2
Christopher Doran, 126, Norwich Tech, 0-2
Shaun Williams, 126, Danbury, 0-2
Joel Morth, 126, Montville, 2-2
Charles Schultz, Jr., 126, New Milford, 0-2
Anthony Devanny, 132, Ellis Tech, 2-2
Matthew Pangle, 132, Pomperaug, 0-2
Ed Lovely, 138, Newtown, 4-2
Rodric Grant, 138, Portland, 0-2
Joey Rossetti, 138, Phillips Exeter, 3-2
Cole Davidson, 145, Lyman Memorial/WT, 0-2
Michael Ross, 145, Foran, 2-2
Jacob Millbach, 152, Ledyard, 0-2
Joseph Accousti, 160, Newtown, 6-3, 6th place
Jared Rufo, 160, Ellis Tech, 0-2
Emanuel Diaz, 170, Montville, 1-2
Anthony Falbo, 170, Newtown 6-0, 1st place
Danny Contino, 182, Ledyard, 1-2
Jason Rheault, 182, Somers, 3-2
David Verizzi, 182, Lyman Memorial/WT, 1-2
Matt Gray, 220, St. Paul, 1-2
Gavin Thuotte, 220, Ellis Tech, 0-2
Brandon Leonard, 106, New Milford, 1-2
Jakob Camacho, 113, Danbury, 6-2, 4th place
Noah Caskey, 113, Montville, 3-2
Mark Hartmann, 113, Hand, 1-2
Nicholas Savo, 113, Danbury, 0-2
Gabe Knittel, 120, East Hampton, 0-2
Mel Ortiz, 120, New Milford, 3-2
Luke Schell, 120, New Milford, 0-2
Christopher Austin-Schultz, 120, New Milford, 0-2
Jacob Colley, 126, New Milford, 2=2
Aaron Occhipinti, 126, Newtown, 1-2
Sebastein Stultz, 126, Windham, 1-2
Jesse Walker, 126, Ridgefield, 0-2
Collin Beahn, 132, East Windsor, 0-2
Sam Kury, 132, Montville, 0-2
Camron Louis, 132, Ellis Tech, 1-2
Simon Preston, 138, Ridgefield, 0-2
Jeff Suschana, 138, Somers, 2-2
Alex Richardson, 145, New Milford, 0-2
Gino Baratta, 152, Danbury, 1-2
Zach Caffrey, 152, Killingly, 1-2
Ryan Devivo, 152, Xavier, 3-2
Mason LaFlam, 152, Lyman Memorial, 2-2
Dakota Grover, 182, Ledyard, 1-2
Lachlan Rosato, 195, Brunswick, 1-2
Sean Johnson, 106, Ellis Tech, 1-2
Nic Kelly, 106, Portland, 0-2
Troy Anderson, 106, Foran, 0-2
Ben LeBlanc, 106, Danbury, 4-2
Jacob Marselli, 106, East Catholic, 1-2
Ben Smart, 106, Ridgefield, 1-2
Sam White, 113, Norwalk, 0-2
Stephen Eiss, 113, Portland, 1-2
Kyle Fields, 120, Danbury, 5-3, 8th place
A.J. Caba, 120, Danbury, 2-2
Jake Graziano, 120, Ledyard, 0-2
Ian Anderson, 126, Montville, 0-2
Gabriel Reyes, 126, New Milford, 2-2
Jackson Archer, 132, Lyman Memorial/WT, 0-2
Nickolas Richardson, 138, E.O. Smith, 0-2
Jesse Polansky, 285, Xavier, 3-2, 5th place
C.J. Shea, 90, Milford, 2-2
Ryan Jack, 95, Danbury, 4-3, 8th place
James Lunt, 105, Colchester, 2-2
Javon Priar, 119, New Milford, 4-1, 3rd place
Brian Showstead, 135, Ridgefield, 1-2
A.J. Kovacs, Danbury, 135, 5-2, 5th place