The bar continues to raise for wrestling in town as the Newtown Youth Wrestling Association dominated in the New England Championships held in Fitchburg, Mass. March 18 and 19. The Nighthawks captured the title for the second straight year. Newtown’s squad was led by Jake Maddox, who was named the Most Dominant Wrestler across the 15U age bracket, and several other place winners.
Newtown had nine co-ed placers scoring 81 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Billerica, Mass. with eight placers and 51 points. There were 86 teams in the competition. Newtown had six New England champions and 12 placers among 25 competitors as the team brought more than twice the number of New England qualifiers from last year’s championship-winning squad.
“To win back-to-back, all of us as coaches and board members are speechless. It is a testament to what we do,” Newtown Youth Wrestling Association President Nick Veneziano said.
Newtown champs were Camron Veneziano (two-time winner, 10U, 77 pounds); Noah Blair (12U, 69); Esther Ribeiro (capturing the first-ever girls’ 18U title, 138); Antonio Arguello (two-time winner, 15U, 136); Brighton Karvoski (four-time winner, 15U, 94); and Maddox (two-time champ, 15U, 154).
Finishing in second place was Reilly Kling (11U, 135); in third Rachel Ribeiro (14U, 135) and Jake Fattibene (12U, 123); in fifth Daniel Candullo (12U, 73); and sixth Chase Ibbitson (10U, 64) and Owen Blair (15U, 94).
Blair and Veneziano are practice partners who went on to win titles in separate brackets. “These two are among the hardest workers in our room. Their leadership off the mat is unparalleled as well,” Veneziano said.
Newtown Youth Wrestling might comprise mainly Newtown grapplers, but there are competitors from neighboring towns that do not offer youth programs and some of the Nighthawks also compete at private clubs outside of town for more training.
Blair, Maddox, and Karvoski all compete out of Refinery RTC Wrestling Club in Danbury, and Arguello and Veneziano compete at Team Tugman Wrestling Club in Ansonia.
“We are so proud of our wrestlers and program. It’s a great accomplishment,” Newtown Head Coach Curtis Urbina said. “Defending our title was one of the program’s main objectives for this season and I am so proud that each member of our team embraced that vision. Our wrestlers worked hard to prepare and learned how to believe in themselves, their teammates, and their coaches. It all came together at the right time and that’s how you build a championship team.”
Urbina noted that much of this success came about as a result of the commitment of those who guide these young grapplers on and off the mats.
“Kudos to our parents, our coaches, and especially our high school wrestling team. Having them come back to the youth program to help us prepare was inspiring and our young wrestlers really look up to them,” Urbina said. “We are also proud of one of our young coaches, Esther Ribeiro, who wrestled with our youth program for many years. Esther, currently a junior at Bethel High School, trains our newly-formed girls’ team and this year wrestled in the first ever New England High School Girls’ Tournament and won to become a New England Champion. I am a very proud coach.”
“We are so proud of her. She was all smiles,” Veneziano added.