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Sophomore Justin Osler (right) took the title in the 182-pound weight class for the Branford wrestling squad at the SCC Championship on Feb. 9. Osler earned the conference crown by winning a 10-4 decision against an opponent from Foran in the championship match. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Minsok Lee earned runner-up honors in the 220-pound weight class to help the Branford wrestling team finish sixth overall at the SCC Championship at Jonathan Law High School. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
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The Branford wrestling team made history during an eventful stretch on the mats last week. The Hornets finished their regular season with a significant win and then opened the postseason by crowning a victor at the Southern Connecticut Conference Championship.
Branford completed its regular season by earning a 60-13 home victory versus Notre Dame-West Haven in an SCC Division B matchup on Feb. 6. With the win, the Hornets posted an undefeated record in SCC Division B this year on their way to claiming the first division title in program history. Branford also finished the regular season with an overall record of 19-10, tying for the most wins in a single campaign in school history.
However, the Hornets’ week was just getting started. On Feb. 9, Branford competed in the SCC Championship at Jonathan Law High School, where sophomore Justin Osler took the conference title in the 182-pound weight class. Osler earned a 10-4 decision against Pat Brogan of Foran in the final to claim the crown.
Branford also saw two athletes notch second-place finishes at the conference meet. Junior captain Cody McHenry finished second in the 195-pound division, while senior captain Minsok Lee was the runner-up in the 220 division. Sophomore AJ Robinson took third place in the 152-pound weight class for the Hornets.
As a team, Branford finished in sixth place out of 13 clubs by scoring 71 points at the SCC Championship. Xavier finished first with 199.5 points, while Foran came in second place with 138.5 points.
Olser won three matches on his way to capturing the SCC title in the 182-pound weight class. After receiving a first-round bye, Osler defeated Ryan Serpis of Guilford by pin at the 30-second mark of their quarterfinal matchup. Osler pinned East Haven’s Vincenzo Bunce at 1:53 in the semifinals, before beating Brogan by a 10-4 score in the title bout. He’s only the second sophomore in the history of Branford wrestling to win an SCC championship.
McHenry earned a bye through the first round of the 195-pound bracket, then defeated Marcelius Ruiz from Xavier on a pin at 3:41 in the quarterfinal round. McHenry beat Josh Rao of East Haven on a 9-5 decision in the semis, after which he lost a 20-8 decision versus Foran’s Nolan Bannon in the final. McHenry how has 89 career victories with the Hornets.
Lee received a bye into the quarterfinals of the 220-pound tournament and then notched a pinfall victory versus East Haven’s Gunner Horton in just 50 seconds. In the semis, Lee defeated William Ives of Foran on a 5-2 decision. Lee dropped a 7-3 decision to Ray Weiner of Shelton in the championship match. With his showing at SCCs, Lee eclipsed the 30-win mark in a season for the first time in his career.
Robinson had a first-round bye in the 152-pound division. He defeated Shelton’s Mike Monaco by pin at the 2:25 mark in the quarterfinals and then lost a 4-3 decision in the semifinals. Robinson went to the consolation bracket, where he started off by winning a 10-3 decision versus Ryan Miner of Xavier. Robinson went up against Monaco again for a rematch in the consolation final, this time winning a 7-4 decision to finish third overall for the second straight season at the SCC meet.
Sophomore Luke Volpe won two matches via pinfall for Branford at the SCC Championship, including one in his opening bout and another one later in the consolation rounds. Freshman Jace Korab won an 8-6 decision in the 120-pound division. Senior Brendan Shamas earned a 4-2 win on a decision in the 132-pound weight class.
Branford saw several other wrestlers compete in the SCC meet. The Hornets’ other competitors included freshman Aidan Shamas in the 106-pound weight class, along with freshman Patrick Zdunek (113), sophomore Peyton Tracy (138), junior Austin Bui (145), sophomore Anthony LaFogg (160), and freshman Joe Fanelli (285).
Prior to the SCC Championship, Branford completed its regular season by defeating Notre Dame-West Haven to win its first division title and tie the program record with 19 wins in a season. Bui rallied from a six-point deficit to earn a key win by pin in the 145-pound match. LaFogg prevailed by pin in the 160-pound weight class, while fellow sophomore Spencer Lyon was victorious at 170. Osler won on a pin in the 182-pound division for the Hornets. Sophomore Marcus Indeck bumped up one weight class and pinned his opponent at 195. McHenry earned a pinfall victory at 220, as did Lee in the 285-pound bout. Aidan Shamas won via forfeit at 106 for Branford. Korab earned a win on a pin in the 120-pound match, while Volpe was victorious at 126. On Senior Night, senior captain Brendan Shamas earned a dominating victory in the 132-pound bout to cap off the victory and a historic regular season for Branford.
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