Wrestlers perform well in state open, continue to N.E. championship

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Wed., Mar. 2, 2011
South Windsor High School senior Jake Odell took first place in the 152-pound weight class at both the 2011 LL division tournament and the state open. Photos by Martha Marteney.
South Windsor High School senior Jake Odell took first place in the 152-pound weight class at both the 2011 LL division tournament and the state open. Photos by Martha Marteney.

Five members of the South Windsor High School wrestling team qualified to compete in the 2011 Open Wrestling competition held on Feb. 25 and 26 at the New Haven Athletic Center. At the state open, the top wrestlers from every division competed to determine the best overall wrestler.

As a team, South Windsor placed fourth out of 87 teams. “These guys all wrestled really well,” said SWHS wrestling coach Jude Knapp.

In the 152-pound weight class, senior Jake Odell defeated Nick Cipriano of Norwich Free Academy, 5-0. Odell had previously won the 2011 LL division tournament, held earlier in February, over the same opponent. Having wrestled many of the same athletes earlier in the season, Odell said he felt confident going into the state open. On the other hand, since most of the wrestlers at the New England tournament will be new competitors, Odell said, “If you don’t know anything about them, you just go in and wrestle.”

Sophomore Casey Mitchell won the 140-pound weight class at the state open over Jack McKeever of Brookfield, 5-0.  Mitchell had previously taken second place in the LL division. In describing his wrestling at the state open, Mitchell said, “I wasn’t ready to wrestle at my first match.” By the second match, he started to move his feet and work the offense. “From that point on, I felt confident,” he said. Mitchell thanked his family for supporting him and for his coach for helping him along. “I accomplished my goal,” he said. “All the hard work paid off.”

Brandon Lopez, a SWHS senior, took third place in the 125-pound weight class over Nick Amorando of New Milford, 5-4. Lopez also took second place in the LL division. “Being the third best wrestler in the state is still pretty good,” noted Lopez. He said wrestling is all about dedication. “As long as you’re dedicated, you’ll achieve what you want,” he said. “You have to love it to do well.”

“I’m glad that my family is always there by my side,” said Lopez, “and my coach, who put me through the difficult practices to get me to where I am.” He is hoping to at least place in the top six at the New England wrestling championship. 

Although senior Paul Sullivan qualified to compete in the state open for the 285-pound weight class, a sprained ankle kept him from the competition. Sophomore Sam Odell qualified for the 119-pound weight class, but failed to place.

For the past couple weeks, SWHS has been hosting practices with other local teams whose players have continued on in the tournaments. “It gives them good, quality partners to practice with,” explained Knapp. Many of the wrestlers know each other from the off-season club, which Knapp also coaches.

South Windsor’s Brandon Lopez, Casey Mitchell and Jake Odell will continue on to the New England Wrestling Championship on March 4 and 5, held at the New Haven Athletic Center. This tournament pairs the best wrestlers from all divisions in all six New England states. “We’re looking forward to it,” said Knapp. His team members have wrestled a few of the opponents at a tournament in Rhode Island and at the Rodney Smith in East Windsor in January.

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