By BRIAN JENNINGS
After competing in at the Class S championship last year, the Blue Devil wrestling team switched gears and moved up to Class M. Plainville traveled to Guilford High School and competed against some of the top wrestlers in the state at the Class M championship from Friday, Feb. 17 to Saturday, Feb. 18.
The Devils placed 19th out of 30 teams with 40.5 points, advancing one wrestler to the state open. Plainville entered the championship with eight wrestlers: Sebastian Soli (120), Benjamin Root (145), Christopher Centurelli (132), Dominic Pedrolini (113), Kaleb Korona (160), Mason Sarra (170), Travis Boone (182), and Tyler Rizzo (126).
Ellis Tech (213.5) won the Class M title with four champions and eight medalists. Foran (183.5) finished as runner-up with one champion, two runner-ups, and nine medalists. Guilford (170) placed third with two champions, one runner-up, and eight medalists, followed by Platt (158) and Killingly (147).
Soli was the only Plainville wrestler to medal on the day, finishing fourth in his weight class. After receiving a bye in the round of 32, Soli advanced to the semifinals of the championship bracket with a technical fall (19-1) over Henri Poehlman of Avon in the round of 16 and a pin (6:50) over Dave Carron of Killingly in sudden death in the quarterfinals.
In the semifinals, Soli was pinned by Keldon LaRose of Guilford. LaRose went up by two points with a takedown, but Soli knotted the score even with a reversal late in the first period. However, LaRose took a 4-2 lead by the end of the period after slipping in a reversal with seven seconds left.
Soli took his first lead of the bout with a reversal and near fall in the second period. LaRose countered with an escape and takedown before the end of the period to regain the lead by a point, 7-6.
Three points from a near fall midway through the third period put Soli back on top with a two-point advantage. Moments later, LaRose earned two points with a reversal and secured a spot in the championship bout with a pin seconds later at 4:52.
LaRose was defeated by Daniel Veleas of Berlin to an 8-1 decision in the championship bout.
In the semifinals of the consolation bracket, a 9-7 decision over Jeremy Polanco-Castro of Platt earned Soli a battle for third place in his weight class. However, Soli fell to a 15-6 major decision against Noah Pantani of Branford in the third-place bout.
Pantani produced the bulk of his points (9) in the second period off two takedowns and two near falls. Soli made two points off a pair of escapes in the second period and four points off a pair of reversals in the third.
Root, Pedrolini, Korona, Sarra, Boone, and Rizzo each made it as far as the round of 16 in the championship bracket. All, except Pedrolini, eventually fell in the round of eight in the consolation bracket. Pedrolini advanced to the round of four in the consolation bracket. Sarra and Boone each went 2-2 on the day. Centurelli advanced as far as the round of 32.
Soli will represent Plainville when he wrestles against the top wrestlers in Connecticut at the state open, which will be held at Hillhouse High School in New Haven from Friday, Feb. 26 to Saturday, Feb. 27. Competition is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday.
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