NORWALK -- A short time after a crucial pin of Norwalk's Ariz Velez in the 195-pound match on Wednesday, Brien McMahon's Justis Lewis delivered a relatively candid response when asked about the approach he took heading into the competition.
"Takedown and look for a pin. That was my first approach," Lewis said. "It didn't work out as well as I thought it would."
Well, at least early on it didn't.
But to Lewis, a sophomore, none of that mattered.
In just three minutes and 11 seconds--much of which was spent with both wrestlers grappling for position--Lewis took down Velez and broke a tie, giving McMahon a six-point lead. That proved to be just enough for the Senators, who earned victories in two of the final three individual matches thereafter, and walked away with a 45-33 triumph of crosstown rival Norwalk.
"The team is happy. We get the bragging rights," said Lewis, who upped his personal record to 11-2 on the season. "A lot of emotions. Good thing it's positive."
A good deal of those positive emotions for McMahon were stirred up after the final match on the evening, after Robbie Perschino had secured a win for the team in the 106-pound contest. Perschino's pin of Luke Schwartz in just 42 seconds gave McMahon the six points it needed to put Norwalk away.
"I just knew it was the most important match of the season and I just had to step up and win," said Perschino, a sophomore.
He added, "I just gave it my all. I didn't worry about it. I didn't look at him."
Perschino had a slight edge in weight on Schwartz, a freshman, and used it to his advantage. It marked the shortest match of the evening.
"He was giving up about eight to 10 pounds, which at that weight is a lot. He's a freshman, very inexperienced," Norwalk head coach Job Fernandez said of Schwartz. "He goes out there and he tries his hardest. That's all you could really expect from him."
The Senators proved particularly strong in closing out matches, with all but one of their eight individual wins coming by pins. Sawyer Machette opened the competition by taking down Norwalk's Robert Lewis-Zimmerman in the 113-pound match in 2:45.
"It mattered," McMahon head coach Joe SantaLucia said of his team's ability to record pins. "We haven't been great at keeping people on their back. We put some guys away tonight."
At 120 pounds, the Bears' Lakeen Roberts pinned Truic Thompson in 5:08 (the longest match of the evening) to pull the score even 6-6, before McMahon's Paul Deorio earned an 8-5 decision in the 126-pound match for a 9-6 lead. The Senators' James McQuillan (132 pounds) followed with a pin of George Koletsos in 4:42 to make it 15-6.
The overall match between the neighboring schools remained close throughout, as McMahon's largest lead was 12 points and Norwalk's largest--and only lead--was three points, following Matt Deering's pin of McMahon's Vasilli Nikiforides to make it 18-15.
"It was an exciting match," Fernandez said. "It was the difference of a pin."
In one of the most noteworthy matches of the night, Norwalk senior Brandon Riggins improved his personal record to 25-0 on the year with a pin of McMahon's Ryan Silverman in 2:13 in the 182-pound bout. Riggins is currently ranked No. 1 in the state.
"I beat him last year but I wasn't going out there knowing that I was going to beat him," Riggins said. "I go out there wrestling like every other match--just try to score as much as I can and get that pin."
Brien McMahon 45, Norwalk 33 (at McMahon High)
113--Sawyer Machette (M) pinned Robert Lewis-Zimmerman 2:45; 120-- Lakeem Roberts (N) pinned Truic Thompson 5:08; 126--Paul Deorio (M) dec. Colton Larkin 8-5; 132--James McQuillan (M) pinned 4:42; 138--Evan Reisch (N) pinned Jimmy Capone 4:22; 145--Matt Deering (N) pinned Vasilli Nikiforides 1:43; 152--Jamie Restivo (M) pinned Roger Quiroga 1:50; 160--Jose Rodriguez (M) pinned Jose Cleves 5:00; 170--Nery Ceron (N) dec. Daniel Ojeda 9-3; 182--Brandon Riggins (N) pinned Ryan Silverman 2:13; 195--Justis Lewis (M) pinned Ariz Velez 3:11; 220--Andrew Starr (M) pinned Tyler Hiller 3:56; 285--Brian Garcia (N) pinned Ty Guarante 3:10; 106--Robbie Perschino (M) pinned Luke Schwartz :42.