Fermi Wrestling Notches 500th Victory

ENFIELD – Four decades after the first wrestling mats were rolled out in the Fermi High School gymnasium, the Falcon program recently attained a major milestone.Fermi wrestling

A 66-12 victory in Rocky Hill on Feb. 6 was the 500th win in program history. Head coach Jeff Beiler, in his 20th season, has been at the helm for nearly half of those victories – 241 and counting.

“This was a milestone victory for the Fermi wrestling program,” Beiler said. “It is a tribute to all the former Falcon coaches, wrestlers, and their families that have meant so much to our program. It’s been an honor to be associated with the Fermi wrestling program for the past 20 years. We hope that this victory will help propel us throughout the remainder of the season, and experience some individual and team success in our postseason tournaments.”

Fermi grapplers have achieved a great deal of success since the humble beginnings of a 2-11 first season under coach Stu Gettner in 1973-74.

Joel Arnold, a 2011 inductee into the Enfield Athletic Hall of Fame, coached the team to its first winning season (13-4) in 1976-77. Three years later, the Falcons captured the school’s only state championship by winning the Class LL title; that 1979-80 team was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006.

Ben Aleks assumed the reins in 1983-84, and posted winning seasons in each of his 11 years. The 1984-85 team was Class LL runnerup, and the 1986-87 squad won the CCC East championship with a 21-2 record, the best in school history.

Aleks stepped down in 1994, and Beiler has guided the Falcons ever since. Among the accomplishments during his tenure have been a CCC East championship in 1998-99, when Fermi finished fifth in the final state rankings, and a Class L runnerup showing in 1999-2000. During the 2006-07 campaign, Beiler coached his 172nd victory to pass Aleks for the all-time school record.

Among the other highlights in program history are:

  • Four State Open individual champions – Bob Andreana (155 lbs., 1982), Jose Navarro (105 lbs. 1986 and 1987) and Jay Flynn (125 lbs., 1999). Navarro is the only back-to-back State Open champion in town history, and was a high school All-American in 1987.
  • 28 class champions, with the first being Mike Whalen (heavyweight, 1978). He went on win the Division III New England championship four straight years at Wesleyan University, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999. Jim Olson, Navarro, Bob Turgeon and John Ragno each won a pair of class championships.
  • Six New England placewinners, with two wrestlers placing third – Turgeon in 1989, and Bill Simpson in 1992. Simpson became a Division III All-American at Western New England College, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007.
  • Dominance of the Kirk Parker Wrestling Cup, presented to the winner of the annual crosstown rivalry matchup between Fermi and Enfield high schools. Enfield did well in the early years, winning nine of the first 13 meetings, but the Falcons have prevailed in 26 of the last 28 matches to assume a commanding 30-11 lead overall. The most recent win was a 51-21 decision on Jan. 9, Fermi’s fourth straight victory in the series.

One Comment

  1. John Ragno

    February 13, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Cudos to Coach Bieler he brings out the best in young men in a tough sport.

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