NBHS Wrestling Success Based On More Than Winning
Assessing the condition of the New Britain High wrestling team by its record is akin to passing judgment on a Christmas gift when the wrapping paper’s still in place.
The team’s record, particularly within the confines of the state’s toughest league, is merely window dressing. Even gaining one win against the likes of undefeated Farmington and Simsbury, perennially potent Southington, Newington and the West Hartford schools remains a chore.
Charles Ferguson, in his eighth season guiding the team, doesn’t have to be reminded. Like any coach, he hopes that his dedication will represent a step ladder that gradually leads to the top. But there are factors over which he has no control that hamper the Hurricanes from achieving team goals.
Ever-growing groups of freshmen gravitate toward the program. Few are products of youth wrestling so Ferguson has to start with the bare basics.
The freshmen endure challenging first seasons where they have to comprehend that making progress isn’t likely to include a lofty winning percentage. Even if they are fortunate enough to square off against the other teams’ freshmen, possessing above-average physical skills is no substitute for experience.
The youngsters almost always make progress because Ferguson is adept at his craft. What wounds him deeply is that by the time their junior season rolls around, odds are they’ll reject the commitment that a season of wrestling demands.
“The thing was to build a team to get the numbers. We got the numbers. Now I’ve got to get them to wrestle the way they should wrestle,” Ferguson said. “The CCC is just so tough we can’t get over the hump. We do well against some of the other teams but during the week we just don’t wrestle well [enough].”
Ferguson has his stud in senior Geovanni Medina. Last year, Medina swept his eight matches at 126 pounds in the Class LL and State Open championships, and went on to win four of seven at the New Englands. He displays his love for the sport by working at it year round, logging many off-season miles to face prime competition.
Ferguson also has junior Dylan Krivickas, a fourth seed in LL’s 160-pound division last year after posting a 23-3 mark in the regular season. Like Medina, he continues to march forward and should compete for a division crown next month. It’s the support behind Medina and Krivickas that separates New Britain from the central Connecticut ruling class.
Malik Webb was 17-5 as a sophomore last year and was joining Medina for some offseason work but inexplicably did not return after the holidays. Another promising sophomore – 145-pounder Bryce Buinickas – didn’t come out this year.
“What do we do to keep these guys coming back?” Ferguson asked. “Out of my lineup of 14 guys, I have nine first-year wrestlers.”
Ferguson ran two freshmen and two sophomores out against Conard on January 23. On no less than five occasions, Ferguson could be heard imploring wrestlers from reaching back when they were trying to escape or locking hands trying to reinforce a move.
“We should know. We shouldn’t even attempt to do that,” said Ferguson, who wrestled and coached at Bulkeley and also competed at Linfield College in Oregon. “As the only coach, it’s hard to see everybody in practice who’s doing the wrong stuff.”
Every wrestling coach needs at least one assistant and a student manager or two to help him with the administration of the team. When it comes to his sport, Ferguson has long walked that path alone. Youth programs sprout, but wither and die. Where football and basketball enjoy a proud tradition, wrestling suffers.
LOSS TO CONARD: New Britain won four matches in the 47-20 loss to Conard.
The poised Medina expended only as much energy as he had to in winning by first-period fall. Krivickas scored a technical fall (a decision by 15 points or more) against one of the Chieftains better wrestlers in Alex Jojin.
“I’m trying to make Dylan smarter on the mat,” Ferguson said. “He’s really so aggressive. There have been instances where he’s been up, did something silly and ended up on his back. … He’s trying and that’s a plus. Every time we wrestle I see some good things. We’ve just got to keep it going and build something.”
Junior heavyweight Patrick Malchar slipped a headlock and pinned Josh Henry. Sophomore Josh Graves showed the potential of a future state place-winner in winning a 5-1 decision at 182 pounds.
At 112, Ferguson sent out a female wrestler, junior Jasleen Velazquez. Velazquez competed gamely against a quality foe in Eddie Bello. She could have resigned when she suffered a leg injury but finished the match.
“We have three people in that weight class and she has to battle every day to stay on top,” Ferguson said. “The other two guys are younger and they’re learning, but just wrestling guys every day helps her. I just want her to be in practice every day.”
Juniors Mike Calvo (126) and George Rodriguez (138) were competitive but lost close decisions. Sophomore Alex Swaby battled Chieftains senior captain Mike Fisher before losing 3-0. Youngsters like Nathan Carrasquillo (106), Dwayne Marshall (120), Andrew Amaya (145) and Jerron Pino also showed promise.
If they just hang around for four years and Ferguson can find some coaching help, perhaps the Hurricanes will make their mark in the CCC. At the very least, the wrestling program will be available to NBHS students as a means to learn something about life.
Conard 47, New Britain 20
195 – Tim Fisher (C) won by forfeit; 220 – Mike Fisher (C) dec. Alex Swaby 3-0; 285 – Patrick Malchar (NB) pin Josh Henry 2:56; 106 – Tom Callahan (C) pin Nathan Carrasquillo 3:33; 113 – Eddie Bello (C) tech fall Jasleen Velazquez 15-0; 120 – Dan Walsh (C) dec. Dwayne Marshall 14-5; 126 – Joe Kyle (C) dec. Mike Calvo 7-4; 132 – Geovanni Medina (NB) pin Josh Dufault 1:51; 138 – Pat Manders (C) dec. George Rodriguez 7-4; 145 – Jake Dufault (C) pin Andrew Amaya 3:25; 152 – Lucas Muntz (C) tech fall Kelvin Castro 19-4; 160 – Grant Arnold (C) pin Jerron Pino :56; 170 – Dylan Krivickas (NB) tech fall Alex Jojin 17-2; 182 – Josh Graves (NB) dec. Alper Ozdemir 5-1.
CCC West Records: Conard 2-3; New Britain 0-4.