Since the majority of the Greenwich High School’s wrestling team’s roster are underclassmen, a lot of responsibility has fallen on the squad’s seniors in terms of providing leadership on and off the mat and producing strong results in each match.
Wednesday evening, the Cardinals paid tribute to their senior wrestlers during their match against visiting FCIAC foe Stamford, recognizing the team leaders prior to the match, then holding a Senior Day ceremony at the conclusion of the matchup.
In a tight match, Greenwich was edged by Stamford, 36-34, in a matchup featuring a number of hard-fought bouts. Greenwich’s senior captains include Drew Falla and Kane Ehrhart, while junior Thomas Andruss and sophomore Anthony Panarella also captain the Cardinals.
Drew Falla, who was also an offensive lineman on Greenwich’s football team, which won the CIAC Class LL state championship in December, has been a mainstay on the wrestling squad during his high school athletic career. Falla, the Cardinals’ heavyweight grappler (283-pound weight class), appreciated the Senior Night ceremony.
“It’s a great way to celebrate all our seniors,” Falla said. “We’re a small group this year, but we’re a tight knit group, so it’s good to see some of us getting wins and we’ll have a nice celebration after. It’s always a nice night.”
Falla won his match against his Stamford opponent by pinfall in the first period. He held a 6-1 lead, behind a pair of take downs and a nearfall, before pinning his opponent. Executing a headlock, Falla scored the pinfall after taking his foe down to the mat.
“I just noticed he was backing up right from the whistle, so as soon as he popped up, I went for it and it was there and I outmuscled him,” Falla said. “At the end of the day, that’s what I’m good at, so I decided to go for it.”
For the season, the Cardinals senior heavyweight captain has a record of 12-2. Besides competing in dual matches, Greenwich has wrestled at the Guilford Invitational and the Trumbull Duals.
“It’s a new group, so it’s kind of hard being a captain and leading younger kids, but they are getting their practice in and getting better each day,” Falla noted.
“Drew is our only four-year starter,” Cardinals coach Jere Petersen said. “He’s having a really good year and he’s showed great leadership skills.”
Ehrhart was scheduled to wrestle Wednesday against Stamford and wound up winning his 160-pound match by forfeit. This marks his second season on the squad.
“It’s been a great season so far, I’ve learned so much from my teammates, I’ve learned so much from my coaches, so we are going to keep learning new stuff,” said Ehrhart, who also was a member of Greenwich’s state championship football team this past fall.
Indeed, the sport has meant a lot to Ehrhart, who enjoys his role as captain.
“The program has been a big part of my life,” he said. “I’ve learned how to commit to something. There’s a true brotherhood on our team. We have this great environment within our team – we win together, we lose together.”
Said Petersen: “This year, Kane’s wrestling a tough weight class. He’s very athletic and very committed and he works extremely hard. He always gives a great effort.”
Andruss, also a captain, won his match by forfeit on Wednesday. He, too, is in the midst of a successful season.
“The season for me has been going very well,” Andrus said. “It’s a very good weight class, very competitive. I think that I’ve been holding my own very well.”
The Cardinals have a dual match record of 4-6 so far this season, as they continue to hone their skills for the postseason portion of the winter.
“We’re trying to step it up going into the later part of the season, the postseason,” Andruss said. “Hopefully, we can take some places at FCIACs and LLs.”
“Last year, we lost a lot of seniors, so this year, I knew we were going to have a lot of young guys,” Andruss continued. “There is a lot of potential on the team and if everyone keeps working hard and coming to practice, I’m very excited to see where it goes.”
The Cardinals-Black Knights match began with Stamford junior Samantha Yap winning her 106-pound match against Panarella by a 6-1 decision.
Yap is one of the premier wrestlers in Connecticut in the 106-pound weight division and is in her third season with Stamford, where she serves as one of the team’s captains.
Frank Bear (113) and Jason Chein (120-pound) were also awarded their matches by forfeit for Stamford, which jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the match.
Holding a 6-1 lead, Isaac Yap pinned Greenwich senior Peter Najarro in a well-contested 126-pound match.
Kevin Barrios, a Greenwich sophomore, was defeated by Stamford’s Aden Lucero, 6-1, in the 132-pound matchup. Junior Declan O’Regan of the Cardinals, edged his Stamford opponent, 6-5, in the 145-pound matchup.
O’Regan earned his six points on the strength of two take downs and a pair of escapes. In another match that was back-and-forth throughout, GHS junior Ryan Alves was victorious against Luiz Velez (152-pound match), 9-3. Alves had a strong third period, scoring six points with three take downs.
At 170, Cardinals senior Noah Herman produced an 8-0 victory, behind three take downs and two escapes.
“Noah Herman is first-year senior,” Petersen said. “He’s 9-4 now and he’s doing a really good job. He is just picking it up from scratch and figuring out how to win matches.”
Greenwich senior Ray Ruggiero competed at 182 and was pinned in the second period against his formidable Stamford opponent, while freshman Colin Falla, Drew’s brother, scored a pinfall triumph for GHS in the 193-pound match.
Like his older brother, Colin Falla, got his opponent in a headlock and put him to the mat for the pin.
Up next for Greenwich is the Brunswick Invitational, held at Brunswick School all day on Saturday.
“It’s always great competition at the Brunswick Invitational,” Drew Falla said. “Last year, I almost placed and I think we’re going to do really well with the kids we bring. If we all wrestle our best matches we’ll place.”
“The Brunswick Invitational is a tough tournament,” Ehrhart said. “There are great wrestlers from around the state, so we have to get after it. There is a ton of competition in the 160-pound weight class, so I have to keep striving and pushing toward my goals.”
Categories: Greenwich High, Winter sports
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