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Suffield/Windsor Locks Wrestling Forging Path to Championship Season - TheSportsDept.com

Suffield/Windsor Locks Wrestling Forging Path to Championship Season

By Danny Atkinson

Suffield wrestling has been consistently improving as a program the last few seasons. In 2018-19, Suffield, which the Windsor Locks program has merged with this year (its official name is Suffield/Windsor Locks), appears to be taking a great leap forward.

Suffield/Windsor Locks has gone 5-1 in team matches as of the 22nd, with its only loss to Canton in a frustrating 42-36 defeat. All of the Wildcats team matches have come against NCCC Conference opponents, and the others have been easy wins, with the closest a 38-point triumph.

The team has also had great performances in multiple tournaments individual wrestlers competed in. At the South Hadley Duals on January 5th and the Springfield Central Tournament on the 12th, wrestlers went 4-0, and Suffield/Windsor Locks finished third at the area’s largest area tournament, the Greater Hartford Open, on the 12th. In New York’s Windsor Christmas Tournament directly following the holiday, the squad finished in the top half of the standings, with Zach Zones and Hunter Adams finishing runner-up in the 113- and 152-pound divisions, respectively. Head coach Matthew Mangelli cited the showings in these tournaments as the team’s top performances, as well as its 70-12 win against Somers.

“I’m very proud of our effort in all these tournaments. I’m especially proud of the performance of the guys I took to New York, which had great competition,” Mangelli said.

Adams and Miguel Gonzalez, whom Mangelli cites as two of his top wrestlers, discussed what they believe are the team’s best performances of the season to this point as well as their own.

“Our best team accomplishment was going 4-0 in the South Hadley Duals. We got invited two days before the tournament and were the underdog. We ended up beating some of the best teams by more than 15 points, and it just proved to me how great of a team we have,” Gonzalez said. “My best accomplishment was when I wrestled in New York and lost in the semis due to a shoulder injury. Then the next day, I came back and won all four matches and ended up getting 3rd. It showed me that i could push myself through injuries.”  

“Our team’s performances at the South Hadley Duals and Greater Hartford Open were strong,” Adams said. “I advanced to the finals in New York, and was really happy because I relied on my skills and not strength.”

For a squad that has been so successful to this point and is considered a favorite to win the NCCC Championships and contend strongly for the state class championship title as well, Suffield/Windsor Locks is unusually young. It has just one senior in Gonzalez, and relies not only on juniors and sophomores but also freshman like Jones. Mangelli and Adams have been pleased with their consistent work ethic and improvement.

“Our younger wrestlers have grown a lot and developed a lot of talent, with an example being junior Dylan Washburn, who wrestles at 132 pounds. They are working hard all the time and always looking to get better,” Mangelli said.

“The younger guys and new kids (from Windsor Locks) are showing major improvement and dedication. I am proud of how tough they are,” Adams said.

The Wildcats have also faced a unique experience for a top squad with the incorporation of Windsor Locks into the program. According to Mangelli, four members of the program are from Windsor Locks. The head coach said their arrival has been very welcoming and important to the success of Suffield/Windsor Locks.

“The Windsor Locks kids have immediately been strong contributing members, especially Gonzalez. They help fill out classes and give us more competitive lineups.”

Gonzalez was immediately comfortable joining the Suffield wrestlers and has heavily enjoyed the merger.

“To be completely honest, it was a very easy transition moving to a new team. I grew up in the fisheye youth program and about 50% of the Suffield team is from that program, and it just made it very easy for me. Coach Mangelli is a great coach, he pushes us to improve in all positions and he is just very technically sound.”

Mangelli described Adams and Gonzalez as his top wrestlers. He praised Adams for his toughness, and said he was excited to see how Adams, who won the 145-pound title in the conference championship and in Class S last season, performs at the State Open. He had to forfeit his match at the Open due to injury. “I want to see Hunter gets the credit he deserves.” Mangelli also said Zach Jones “immediately showed he was a high-quality wrestler” as a freshman, and that Matthew Raine is having a great season wrestling at 138 pounds.

Mangelli also identified the experienced Adams and Gonzalez as providing important leadership towards their younger teammates. Adams said he attempts to display good sportsmanship for his teammates and communicate the importance of working hard and developing preservice.

In addition to praising the talent and work ethic of his wrestlers, Mangelli said they helped make him a better coach.

“These guys are always pushing me to work hard and try different styles of coaching that will make them better. This inspires me to be very hands—on and work with everyone on techniques in practice, while still trying to make it fun,” Mangelli said.

Suffield/Windsor Locks has two remaining matches against Coventry and Bacon Academy and a tournament competition at East Windsor High before the championship tournament season begins. Last season, the Wildcats finished third at the NCCC Championships, , and then twelfth in Class S.

The Wildcats are highly determined to win the NCCC Tournament and take down Canton, who are two-time defending champions. They also have the ultimate goal of winning the M Championshisp and performing strongly at the State Open, ultimately sending multiple wrestlers to New England’s. The NCCC Tournament is on February 9th, with the class championship and Open over the next two weeks. Mangelli, Adams and Gonzalez are each very confident Suffield/Windsor Locks will capture the conference championship and possibly M, and make noise at the Open.

“I believe we should win the NCCC Tournament if we perform up to our level, the kids are very into it,” Mangelli said. “They want to show their stuff and prove to people that we have a full squad at M’s, which I could see us winning at our best. I can’t wait to get wrestlers to New England’s.”

“If we wrestle in our right state of mind, we will win the NCCC and do great at M’s,” Adams said. “Personally, my ultimately goal is to win all the major titles in my weight class and be in New England’s. If so, it would be a huge honor.”

We definitely have a chance of winning NCCC and even the class with the team we have, and if we don’t this year I know for sure they will next year. In the next few weeks, we need to work on our endurance and to go back and get the little things right to be successful in the tournaments,” Gonzalez said. Personally, my goal is to win the State Opens and place high in New England’s. Last year I didnt get the chance because of injury and I feel I need to prove something this year.”

Matthew Raine

Miguel Gonzalez against Hamden Charter

Hunter Adams and Zachary Jones


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