The Tigers competed in the Class L State Championships on Feb. 15-16 at Bristol Central High School. Hand placed fifth as a team with 150.5 points. Even with the fifth-place spot, the Tigers had a pair of state champions in Matt Elias (106-pound division) and Ben Onofrio (160-pound winner), while 182-pound contestant Kevin Wivell was a runner-up as well. In the 170-pound bracket, Connor Carroll placed third and 195-pound Justin Dwyer placed fourth.
For Elias, the road to his state crown included wins over Lorenzo Ruglio (pin 1:21), Taylor Scavetta (16-0 decision), George Wales (8-2), and Halim Bourjeli (6-3) in the final. Onofrio followed it up in the 160-pound tournament with triumphs over Zachary Mitlitsky (pin 0:36), Alex Fern (pin 3:32), top-seeded Jordan Kenyon (6-5), and Cody Carrillo (5-2) in the championship bout.
“It felt really good to win a championship in Class L, something I have been training for four years now,” said Elias on the win. “I mainly went out to do it for my family, because no one in it had won a state title before me. I wanted to do something special for them, and the team. Over the break due to the snow, I just practiced with the team and by myself in the gym to maintain my weight. I told Coach Erik Delehanty that in football they say, ‘make your last one your best one’ and I had to make that final match my best one to win it.”
Wivell, who entered the tournament with an undefeated 32-0 regular season, earned three pinfall wins over Will Parker (0:33), Alper Ozdemir (2:56), and Gino Rafaniello (3:44) before suffering his first blemish of the year in the final (3-2) to Jimmy Mcdunnah.
Carroll placed third thanks to his 4-1 win over Dante Futia in the consolation bracket’s final after losing to eventual champion Christop Chorzepa (pin 2:22) in the semifinal round of the main bracket. Dwyer found fourth place after losing a tough bout to Joe Fillian 7-0 in the third-place contest of his weight class.