The 2014 Vermont State Wrestling Championships;
Oohs And Aahs And A Couple Of Blahs!
The 2014 Vermont State Wrestling Championships provided tons of excitement and lots of great wrestling but in the final analysis there were relatively few surprises. As expected, reigning champ MAU, the Broad Street Bullies of Vermont wrestling came with their game faces and set the record for most points ever in a Vermont championship, surpassing their own record set in 2002. When the dust settled, they walked away with their 26th straight state title, seven firsts, six second place finishes, and their 336.5 team points more than doubled second place Bellows Falls-Hartford who finished with ten wrestlers in the top six. In what could be billed as MAU vs the rest of Vermont, it was a 7-7 tie, much to the chagrin of the ‘anything but docile’ MAU fans.
The finals were run in random order so I’m reporting in that order. Also all team scores and brackets are posted in the forum section of Vermont Wrestler.
152 Argument Settled
There was considerable controversy throughout the season as to why the injured Dylan Shattuck (12-1) should retain the #1 ranking, but after a 13-3 drubbing of MAU’s Noble Shaler (44-14) in the finals, no doubt remained. Shattuck’s first takedown occurred just 7 seconds into the match and set the tone for what was to come. Although he didn’t pin Shaler, the St. J senior continued to have his way throughout the contest as he did in his path to the finals. He pinned to the semi’s and then dominated Pat Libuda of BF-H 12-1 to get to the title match. There was no sign that his injured leg bothered him in the least.
The second match of the night proved to be a short contest. MAU junior Tyler Mattison (55-3) pinned 4th ranked CVU soph Kienan Kittredge (34-10) in just 1:36 of the first period. There was never any doubt or controversial call in this one as Kittredge, who pinned his way to the finals, found himself on the receiving end. Mattison dominated all Vermont wrestlers this year and we wish them both well at New England’s.
In what was easily one of the toughest brackets in Vermont this year, soph Zack Allen (40-1) had his way with a very game and promising freshman from Essex, 2nd seeded John Stawinski
(32-6). Although there was a lot of bulldogging and unsuccessful shots by both wrestlers, Allen proved to have too much strength for the frosh to overcome. Stawinski could never manage a takedown on the nimble Allen and the contest finished 5-2 with Allen scoring the only takedowns. This weight class had five wrestlers that could have finished on top as Allen narrowly made it to the finals with a 7-6 win over Bailey Willard and Stawinski just scraped by Steve Cerrone 6-4 in the semi’s. The fifth man, John Perrault fought his way to 3rd in the consi’s.
170 Here Comes Poston
In what was probably his finest hour, CVU senior Grant Poston (29-2) upset MAU’s top seeded junior Damon Young (54-6). As predicted by the uncannily accurate Jeff Whitesell, it was a close match with Poston managing to withstand Damon’s pressure from top in the third period which many of the spectators thought should have been called for a dangerous situation by the refs. Young had legs and had Poston’s arm bent back trying to roll him over but Poston wouldn’t hear it. Poston had managed two takedowns earlier but cut Young loose in what I saw as a questionable move. In the final period, Poston was up 4-3 with Young in control. Grant managed to sneak out the back to get the reverse and Young then escaped with three ticks on the clock. Final 6-4 Poston in what was a seat squirmer and had the crowd roaring.
In a rematch of their bout at the MAU jamboree, 2nd seeded soph Tyler Raetz (52-8) was looking for revenge of a 3-2 decision to BF-H’s top seeded junior Austin Viens (36-4) in the 113 class. Once again, Whitesell gets the call as he predicted a close match but the decision went to Raetz who got a takedown in the first period and never relinquished the lead. At one point Viens managed the escape but only to end up out of bounds with no points. Raetz managed to maintain control and the match ended 4-0.
132 LaFountain All The Way
Another Vermont wrestler that lived up to his billing was Dylan LaFountain, MAU’s top seeded junior who never let St.J’s James Dagesse (30-13) come up for air. With his first takedown coming only thirty seconds into the match, LaFountain (54-5) kept putting his opponent on his back and eventually got the tech fall at 1:37 in the 3rd period. Give the junior Dagesse credit for not getting pinned but this one was never in question.
182 Price Has To Work
Senior Austin Price put his undefeated record on the line when he faced Middlebury senior Jacob Trautwein (44-4). Price (57-0), who teched Trautwein earlier this year, got all that he could handle and narrowly escaped with a 7-5 victory. In the 1st period Price got the pull by for a take down and Trautwein escaped so it went into the second period at 2-1. Price got an escape and a take down in the second bringing the tally to 5-1 and it looked like it might start getting away from Trautwein, however he had other plans. After an escape by Jacob and another takedown by Price, Trautwein came back with a reverse. With only seconds left and Trautwein threatening to roll Price it looked like it might be an upset in the making but the clock ticked off and saw Price take the victory in a great match.
285 Everybody Loves Jesse (unless you’re on the mat with him)
As the winningest wrestler in Vermont history stepped onto the mat, the only question was how much time would it take. In his three previous wins, MAU senior Jesse Webb pinned his way to the finals in a total time of just over one period and brought his career record to 226-9 in an unblemished season. Only Mt. Mansfield soph Dalton Hallock stood in the way of Jesse having an undefeated season and another state crown to hang on his overstocked trophy wall. To his credit Hallock lasted longer than any other wrestler Webb faced all day, but at 1:57 of the first period the party was over, Jesse was a four time state champ and MAU had 6 more team points.
145 Rollin’ Nolan
The third of four undefeated wrestlers in the state is BF-H’s senior co-captain Nolan Viens (44-0). His opposition to the top of the podium was MAU’s junior Darren Ruiz-Sauer (42-20). The only question in this match was if the ref was going to penalize Sauer for stalling. It didn’t look like he did much to improve his position but then again Viens had him in an arm bar for almost four minutes. At the end of the match, Sauer’s only accomplishment was not to get pinned which would have gotten BF-H 3 more team points. Viens finished as a two time state champ and was 5th in New England’s as a Junior. He has a strong chance to go to the top this year in Providence.
120 Gassaway All The Way
The fourth undefeated Vermont wrestler and last years New England runner-up is MAU’s Troy Gassaway (58-0). His hurdle to the top of the podium was a game but outmatched Ben Bliss (43-3). Gassaway came to play and got the only two points of the first period with a takedown of MMU’s junior. Gassaway got an escape and a takedown in the second to improve his position to 5-0. Later in the third Bliss got a headlock on Gassaway for what looked like it was going to be two but Troy reversed it before there was any control and ended up with the takedown. The match ended up 7-1 in favor of Gassaway. Let’s hope they both make it to the finals in Providence.
Earlier in the year junior Chris Gobbi (41-4) suffered a 13-1 decision to MAU junior Jack Luciano (54-6). If revenge was on his mind, repeat was on Luciano’s and that’s the way it went. Luciano jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first and improved it to 7-2 after two and finished it 9-4. Luciano’s shots proved to be too much for Gobbi who was never really in it.
Another fairly one sided match pitted Vergennes senior Keegan Pearsall (39-4) against MAU junior Jacob Woodside (41-19). The first period didn’t see much scoring except two points for a takedown by Pearsall. On top in the second, Pearsall worked the power half on Woodside, had him on his back and almost pinned. Pearsall was up 8-0 and Woodside was never really in it. In the third, Pearsall got another two and the only point Woodside could muster was a penalty point on Keegan for a response to taunts from the MAU crowd. The final score 10-1.
126 Bernadine-Watson; Case Closed (Whitesell nails it!)
Several pages of the forum this year concentrated on the 126 class. Rachel Hale, two time state champ and seemingly the heir apparent to this years title was dethroned by Tabor Watson in a wrestle off and didn’t get to compete in states. In what must have been a difficult decision by Coach Legacy of MAU, he followed the traditional method and sent Watson to the show. It might have cost him a win at 26 but hindsight is 20-20. On the other hand, ‘The Rankings Doctor’ had the 20-20 foresight and predicted the 1-2-3 outcome in the class. All season long, the convoluted course of wins and losses contributed to the confusion in the rankings so this class was really up for grabs by any of the top three seeds, Bernadine, Watson and Kendall respectively.
In the first period Bernadine got a quick takedown only 15 seconds in however that proved to be the end of the scoring for that period. Start two with Bernadine down; he gets the reversal only to be reversed by Watson. Later in the second with Bernadine up 4-2, Watson had the arm bar but couldn’t manage to get his man over. Watson took ‘down’ in the third and got the escape to make it 4-3 but Bernadine hammered Watson with an immediate takedown. Watson escaped again and yet again Bernadine was right on him with another takedown. In what was an exciting match, Bernadine walked away with an 8-4 win and 1st place hardware.
106 Bliss-Call And Controversy
I’m not sure if people were counting the score but MAU vs the rest of Vermont was 7-6. All night long MAU and anti MAU sentiment electrified the atmosphere. Loud and emotional describe it best and it set the stage for the final match of the night, one of the most exciting bouts of the entire tourney. Fitting for the finale, Bliss and Call went down to the wire and went into OT at
MAU soph and top seed, Calvin Call (50-9) faced MMU’s frosh Dan Bliss (39-7) in the coup de grace of an already exciting and emotional tourney. Call was favored in the contest but early in the first Bliss got a takedown and then later added 3 for back points and went into the second with a 5-0 lead. Early in the second Call put Bliss in a cradle and it looked like the fairy tale ending was getting rewritten, however, Bliss managed to get out of it and almost escaped. Going into the third it was 5-3 when Call got a reverse, tied the score and managed to keep Bliss from escaping. OT here we come!
Bliss fans say it was a cradle and control and should have been called before it got to the stalemate. Call fans say there was never any control and two points never should have been awarded. I’d like to have the luxury of slow motion replay. Bottom line is that Daniel Bliss goes to New England with a Vermont state title in his trophy case.
Sometimes they go your way, sometimes they don’t. Give Call credit for his display of sportsmanship and professionalism. At the end of the day you walk away with what you earned and you go on to fight another battle. There’s no asterisk next to this one in the record books like the steroid soaked home run champs. But fans take heart, these are two excellent wrestlers that will provide us with plenty of oohs and aahs over the ensuing years. Good luck to both of you in Providence!
2014 Vermont State Wrestling Championships/Vermont Wrestler