For two members of the Immaculate-Joel Barlow High wrestling team the season would continue last week.
Freshman Emmett LiCastri and junior Steve Ghossaini both qualified for the State Open finals on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22-23. By the time they were done each had placed in his respective weight class.
Together they combined for 26 points, which allowed Barlow to place 28th out of 97 teams. Danbury was the winner with 130. Windham and South Windsor were tied for runner-up, each with 121.
“There were a lot of outstanding wrestlers from so many schools that we never see during the regular season,” said Immaculate-Barlow head coach Phil LiCastri. “So we never know exactly how we will match up until we go head to head with them.
Competing in the 126-pound group, Emmett LiCastri started by winning a 15-6 major decision over Terryville’s Sam Ferreira. It was much close in the next match as he held off Somers’ Nick Zachary for a 6-4 win.
LiCastri reached the quarterfinals of the championship round but lost a 6-0 decision to Bacon Academy’s Matt McAllister.
Now in the consolation round, he pinned Ridgefield’s Matt Philbin in 4:11. It was a close match in the semifinals but he held off Fairfield Warde’s Charlie Kane 5-4.
A 9-2 loss to Trumbull’s Brandon Licinsky was followed by a one-point decision in the next round. Getting edged 1-0 by Southington’s Matt Solomon, LiCastri finished sixth overall.
“Emmett was in arguably the toughest weight class in the state this season,” said his father. “There were a number of high caliber wrestlers who did not even qualify to go to the Opens and being a freshman on top of that we knew going in that it was going to be a tough road to place in the tournament.”
Ghossaini also had some success early, which included a 13-7 victory over Norwich Free Academy’s John Crooks in the preliminary round of the 195-pound class. His closest was in the championship quarterfinals, where he outlasted Windham’s Xavier Kernozek 3-2.
Making it to the semifinals, Ghossaini had another close match, losing a 5-3 decision to Southington’s Zach Maxwell.
A 3-1 decision over South Windsor’s Tom Anderson got Ghossaini to the consolation finals. There he lost a 5-2 decision to Capital Magnet/Capital Prep’s Chris Joel Samboy to place fourth overall and qualify for the New England meet on Friday in Providence, R.I.
“Steve showed a lot of heart both last week at the Class L tournament and this week at the Opens,” said LiCastri. “I think Steve had well over 20 pins this season so he has not had a lot of matches go the full six minutes and he managed to pull out a couple of big overtime wins against some quality opponents.”
“We had a number of coaches come up to us and tell us how great they thought both Steve and Emmett wrestled,” he continued. “It was nice to see Immaculate and Barlow get some notice in a sport dominated by much larger schools with teams that have over 40 wrestlers between varsity and JV.”