Bristol Eastern wrestling caps undefeated regular season, focused on bigger goals

A large crowd inside the Thomas A. Monahan Gymnasium fired up the Bristol Eastern wrestlers in their 60-12 win over Bristol Central.

There were two resounding chants Wednesday night in Thomas A. Monahan Gymnasium following Bristol Eastern wrestling’s 60-12 win over Bristol Central.
“UNDEFEATED! [clap clap clap,clap,clap]” bellowed from the Lancer student section.
“CCC, CCC, CCC!” yelled the Eastern wrestlers.
Both chants were right, and Wednesday night’s win was the culmination of a storied regular season. The Lancers went 19-0 in dual meets, the first time in program history that such a feat had been accomplished.
Eastern also took back the CCC South crown that Middletown claimed last season. The Lancers were dominant, despite a slew of injuries that could have knocked any team down.
Not this Eastern team. Not these Lancers.
“I think it’s been really helpful,” Eastern head coach Bryant Lishness said of the adversity. “We’ve asked guys to step out of weight, a lot. We’ve asked guys to share the burden.”
The Lancers have been great at doing both. Wednesday night marked the first time all year that Eastern fielded its real lineup, and what a scary sight it was.

Senior Jack Kachidurian was one of many Lancers to pick up a win Wednesday.

The Lancers are wrestling well, but they have bigger goals in mind besides an undefeated regular season and a CCC South title. Feb. 17-18 have been circled on the Eastern calendar. Those are the dates for the Class L state championship meet, which will be held at Bristol Central High School.
“Their eyes are on producing next weekend,” Lishness said.
Lishness said Eastern is in the conversation for the title, but New Milford is the big dog on the block. There’s also solid wrestlers from Middletown, Fairfield Ludlowe and Manchester to contend with.
Eastern’s wrestlers have learned to battle, not just during dual meets but also at Saturday tournaments.
“A lot of the kids came back and wrestled,” Lishness said of one tournament. “I think that’s where we got it. You have to keep wrestling.”
Every point matters in a hotly contested meet like Class L.
On Wednesday, the Lancers overcame some early nerves, wrestled well and delighted their fans.
“They did a good job,” Lishness said. “I wanted them to be smart and classy and get the job done.”
Junior Mikey Barrett got the night started with a 16-second pin at 160 pounds. Sophomore — yes, sophomore — Trinidad Gonzalez — picked up a decision and put Eastern ahead 9-0.
Senior Zach Marquis picked up his 100th win on the mat with a pin in 4:28.

Senior Zach Marquis picked up his 100th career win on the mat on Wednesday.

“To me it means the world,” Marquis said. “All of the support from the team, all of the support from the coaches, all of the support from the fans, all of the support from my family.”
The support of the Lancers means an awful lot to Marquis.
“It’s just a family,” Marquis said.
The crowd support was awesome.
“It was definitely an adrenaline rush,” Marquis said. “You saw how many kids were out there. It’s amazing.”
Junior Keegan Bartis came up with an overtime takedown to win at 195, which gave Eastern an 18-0 lead.
The wins continued for the Lancers at 285, 113, 120, 132, 138, 145 and 152. All of those wins were by pin — junior Andrew Cercone at  285, junior Jordon Champagne at 113, sophomore Carson Sassu at 120, senior Jack Kachidurian at 132, sophomore Noah Piazza at 138, senior Anthony Lozier at 145 and sophomore Justin Marshall at 152.
Lishness was pleased with the effort from Lozier.
“I was really happy for him, senior captain,” Lishness said. “He just went out there and got it done.”
Lozier was a part of four Eastern teams that beat Central. Overall, the Lancers have knocked off the Rams seven straight times.
Eastern yielded a single pin and two decisions, limiting the bonus points earned by Central while piling them up on their own side.

Sophomore Justin Marshall ended Eastern’s banner night with a pin at 152 pounds.

Yes, the Lancers finished the season undefeated. Lishness’ reaction showed there’s much more to come.
“Undefeated’s great, it’s something to talk about, things like that,” Lishness said. “The postseason is where it really counts.”
Those who were on this Lancer team will always be able to brag about being undefeated. The battle is far from over.
“They’re not done,” Lishness said. “They’ve been ramping up their work in practice.”
That focus showed during the season.
“On the mat, it’s all business,” Marquis said.
Class L is where Eastern hopes to make its mark.
“I think we’re in the conversation, but it’s really up to the kids,” Lishness said.
Some will wrestle in the quasi-tournament that the CCC holds this weekend. All of them will be ready to go when Friday, Feb. 17 arrives.
NOTE: The Lancers wanted to showcase city wrestling’s past and future. Before the match, Eastern and Central alumni were recognized, as was the Gladiator youth program.
“We love it,” Lishness said. “We had the little kids showing up for Gladiators, we had alumni in the stands.”
Lishness pointed out not just Eastern alumni, but Central as well. The Lancers may be in the middle of a dominant run in the city matchup, but it still means a ton to both sides.