NORWALK, Conn. -- The Mad Bull wrestling squad had eight wrestlers place as top finishers in the recent Connecticut Youth Wrestling Championships.
Jeff Cocchia was the lone champion for the day followed by Nemo Harris, Dean Tsiranides, and Jakari Walker, all of whom made it to the finals and placed second. Nick Augeri and Mikey Bartush finished third, Artie Cocchia fourth and Patrick Coulter fifth, rounding out an impressive day for the Norwalk wrestling squad.
Equally as impressive for the young squad was Charlie Prather, Mike Santalucia, Sam White and Max Schwartz, who wrestled well but came up just short with placements. AllMad Bull state qualifiers will be returning next year with the exception of Schwartz, who will wrestle for Norwalk High School next year as a freshman.
The State Championship tournament featured wrestlers in grades 3 to 8. Combined with the kindergarten to second grade championships two weeks ago, Norwalk crowned three state champions. The Mad Bulls also had four second places, five third place finishes, a fourth and a fifth, placing an unprecedented 14 total Mad Bull wrestlers in postseason state tournament action this year.
“Every single wrestler that qualified for the State Championships wrestled very well today,'' program director Randy Haus said. "We ran into some great competition and held are own, placing eight kids in total, with four making it to the finals, and crowning a State Champion along the way: Jeff Cocchia."
Cocchia is a four-time state place winner for the Mad Bulls, capturing the State Championship this year with a decisive victory in the 140-pound weight class over defending state champion Shaine Luzietti of Newtown with a first period pin.
Coach Art Schad commented on the day, which saw some kids wrestle their best matches of the season, and reflected back on all of the practice preparation that went into peaking at the right time in the state’s top showcase of wrestling talent..
“We never know when one of the kids are going to ‘break-out’ and have a season defining match,'' Schad said. "Dean Tsiranides had a tournament full of those types of matches. He wrestled very tough today at the state level making it to the finals and beating some very good competition along the way."
Collectively, the coaches pointed to outstanding performances by fourth-grader Mikey Bartush, who set a single season team record with 33 wins with just three losses and took a third place, as well as newcomer Nick Augeri, who battled his way through the brackets to earn a strong third place finish by beating Jim Luce from Wilton 2-1 in wrestlebacks with a dramatic last second takedown to seal the victory.
Jakari Walker went 4-1 for a strong second place finish and continues to impress along with teammate Patrick Coulter, who is considered to be one of the more dangerous wrestlers in the 105-pound weight class for the Mad Bulls.
Newcomer Nemo Harris shows promise besting all of his opponents to make it the finals before losing a close match against seven-year wrestling veteran Jordan Agosto from Danbury, 7-2.
Fifth-grader and defending state champion Koy Price suffered an injury that prevented him from competing at the championships. But the coaches look forward to the young and talented Price regaining his state title next year as he has already returned to practice and is in great form.