Blue Devils get prepped at invite

By BRIAN JENNINGS

STAFF WRITER

Although scores were not kept and records were not affected at the round-robin CCC Invitational at Berlin High School on Saturday, Feb. 11, Plainville coach Rusty Spence said that the event was good preparation for the Class M meet. Along with the Blue Devil wrestling team, Berlin, Platt, Haddam-Killingworth, Morgan, Wethersfield, New Britain, Bristol Central, and Middletown attended.

“It’s just a real quick tune-up to get into the Class M’s,” said Spence. “Sebby Soli lost to Nick Arborio from Berlin, but Arborio hasn’t lost all year. That was a good match, but Sebby came out and looked pretty good the rest of the day. Ben Root looked good today as well. All of these kids are ready to approach the postseason.”

From the beginning of the season to now, the Devils have transformed into a different team. Veteran leadership was scarce after seniors like Grant Sarra and Jon Tattersall went down with season-ending injuries. Grant Sarra was 7-0 before he went down with an injury. Other senior wrestlers were also lost on the season due to trouble with academics in the classroom.

After they began the season with a 5-4 record, the Devils won just one match in their next seven. According to Spence, the team was on pace to only have four or five losses by the end of the regular season. But instead, the Devils ended up with an overall record of 7-10.

The team began the season with 27 wrestlers, but now have just 16. There was a big drop-off in upperclassmen, as the Devils have just two seniors, Christopher Centurelli (138) and Tyler Rizzo (126), and one junior, Root (145), as they enter the postseason.

Such losses have forced Plainville’s youth to step up and take the wheel. Wrestlers like freshmen Mason Sarra (170) and Kaleb Korona (160) have stepped in to answer the call and fill those vacant starting roles in the varsity lineup.

“All of our production has come from the younger kids,” said Spence. “They’re showing a lot of progress right now at the end of the year. It’s showed me now that these kids are starting to really wrestle hard. I think we’re ready for states.”

Mason Sarra will be one of nine Plainville wrestlers at the state meet.

“That was very impressive because he’s been wrestling little light,” said Spence. “He’s like a 165-pound freshman, and he’s wrestling a lot of upperclassmen at 172 pounds. A 13-11 record coming from a freshman like that showed me a lot. He’s doing very good and is a team leader.”

Korona also earned a chance to wrestle at the state meet with Mason Sarra. Spence coached Korona in Plainville youth when he was weighing in at over 200 pounds. Now he’s wrestling at 160, but was as low as 152. He wrestled in about five matches at 152 this season.

“That kid is awesome,” the coach said. “It’s a statement to how tough he wants to go. He is working his butt off, and I think he feels good that he’s a lot lighter.”

Win vs. Newington

FEB. 8—Earlier in the week on Wednesday, the Devils earned their seventh win of the season with a 52-21 victory over Newington at home.

Rizzo gave the Devils a 5-0 advantage with an 18-2 technical fall, but the Indians took the lead by a point with a pin in the next bout. However, the Devils went on a 36-3 run with the help of pins from Centurelli, Root, and Corona. Centurelli recorded the fastest pin at 55 seconds into his bout.

The Devils forfeited the 106 and 220-pound weight classes. The Indians forfeited the 170, 182, and 195-pound weight classes.

Sophomore Michael McGinley (285) won his first bout of the season on Wednesday night when he clinched the win for the Devils to give them a 44-15 lead with three bouts remaining in the match, defeating Newington’s Rasheed Patterson with a 10-4 decision.

“He had an excellent match to finish his season,” said Spence. “Things like that are a bright spot. You can look back on the season, and it took some of these kids a while, but they got it right at the end.”

The Devils will battle against some of the top wrestlers in the state when they travel to Guilford High School from Friday, Feb. 17 to Saturday, Feb. 18 to compete in the Class M championship. The following wrestlers will represent Plainville at the state meet: Soli (120, 23-3), Root (145, 18-9), Dom Pedrolini (113, 16-10), Travis Boone (182, 15-11), Mason Sarra (170, 13-11), Rizzo (126, 11-13), Korona (160, 6-8), and Centurelli (138).

Spence said that he hopes to have at least three or four wrestlers in the state open, but it’s Soli that he will especially have his eye on.

“I think Sebby Soli is going to win,” the coach said. “He’s geared up right now and is on fire. The way he’s wrestling this year, I think he’s definitely going to be in the finals at the Class M’s. I’m hoping that he can at least get a place in the open’s.”

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at bjennings@southingtonobserver.com.