Gerry deSimas on how Torrington wrestler Dean Tsopanides became a champion in 2011.
Dean Tsopanides and Dan Dunaj at the '29 Club Dinner, Saturday night at P-Sam's in Torrington. Tsopanides was honored this year by the group for his outstanding contribution to the Torrington football program, on and off the field.
By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Senior Dean Tsopanides is a two-time All-State football player from Torrington
High. He is looking to attend a prep school next fall to help him prepare for
his dream of playing football at the collegiate level.
He has been wrestling for just three years. Yet after finishing fourth at the
recent wrestling championships in the 215-pound weight class, he’s
not quite sure he can leave the sport behind.
“I don’t want to give this up,” he said. “It’s the challenge you face out here.
There is no greater feeling than winning a match that is tight.”
It took a while for Tsopanides to find some competition this season. He went
26-1 in the regular season, winning most by pin. He won the Class L state
championship and finished fourth at the State Open a week ago.
After losing twice at the Open, he vowed to come back ready to compete at the
New England tournament.
At the New England tournament, he didn’t let a 3-1 loss in his second match to
Vermont champion Adam Reed of Spaulding, Vt., slow him down on day 1 of the
two-day tournament. He rallied for a 4-1 decision in the consolation round to
remain alive in the tournament. On Saturday, he won four straight to earn a spot
in the consolation final. He finished fourth after a 11-6 loss to Michael Cyr of
Among those four wins was a 3-2 decision over Xavier’s Sean Marian, who was
second at the Open a week earlier. Tsopanides got the first takedown in the
second period and a one-point escape early in the third period.
In the consolation semifinals, Tsopanides trailed by two after giving up a
reversal to Kyle McGuire of Mansfield, Mass., in double overtime. With 14
seconds remaining, Tsopanides escaped and took down McGuire with five seconds
remaining for a thrilling 4-3 decision.
Tsopanides spent the week prior to the New England tournament working out with
Thomaston’s Mark Dilley, who is a bit lighter at 189 pounds and former
Northwestern Regional wrestler Chris Marks, who won a State Open title in 2005.
Tsopanides (42-5) got experience against faster wrestlers and worked on
defending against takedown attempts. Dilley (44-4) got the chance to work out
against a stronger, larger wrestler.
Dilley, who won his second straight Class S title two weeks ago, and was fourth
at the State Open, finished fifth in New England. Dilley won five of six matches
in the consolation bracket.
“Everyone I wrestled didn’t seem as strong as (Tsopanides) was,” Dilley said.
“It helped me prepare for this level of competition.”
After winning by pin in his first match, Dilley lost 14-5 to eventual New
England champion Victor Avery of Foxboro, Mass. Dilley won four in a row,
including a 7-5 overtime decision, before dropping a 2-0 decision to Shane
Tremblay of Timberlane, N.H., who exposed Dilley’s back with two seconds left in
regulation for a two-point near fall. But Dilley rallied to win his finale,
pinning Vermont’s Spencer Foucher in 2:48.
“I’m extremely proud of him,” Thomaston coach Shaun Canney said. “After he lost
his second match, he could have put his shoes away. But he wanted it. He wanted
to place. Many of the kids were technically superior to him but was just too
stubborn to lose.”
In his overtime win over Kyle Humphries of East Longmeadow, Mass., Dilley scored
a two-point takedown in the final five seconds to force OT. In the extra
session, he used a headlock to get the winning takedown.
Tsopanides and Dilley were the first wrestlers from their schools to compete and
earn medals at the New England tournament.
* * * *
Nonnewaug’s Tyler Tilbe (125) had a different experience in the New England
tournament. For the first time in a year, Tilbe lost a match. In fact, he lost
His first loss came to eventual New England champion Massachusetts’ Kyle
Visconti of Malden Catholic. Tilbe got a takedown to take a 2-0 lead but
Visconti took advantage of small opening, stepped over and scored five quick
points with a reversal and a three-point near fall. From that point, Tilbe had
to take chances and they didn’t pan out in a 10-2 defeat.
Tilbe won a pair of matches in the consolation round but gave up three takedowns
in a 10-7 loss to of Chariho, Rhode Island.
“Everybody pushes here, all the time,” Tilbe said. “In Connecticut, kids will
get a lead and ride it out. Here, you don’t stop. People don’t stop. You can’t
coast here with a lead.”
With a 6-1 win over Paolo Tavares of New Bedford, Mass., to finish fifth, Tilbe
(44-2) set a new school record with his 160th career victory. He is 160-23 with
three Class S title and two State Open championships.“It was impressive,”
Nonnewaug coach David Green said. “He was in a very tough weight class. He was
in every match. He still won five matches against some very good competition.”
* * * *
Tilbe, Tsopanides, Terryville's Scott LaMarre (145), Housatonic's Dom Ghi (119),
Gilbert's Josh Hoxie (112), Thomaston's Dilley and Alan Sanford (152) were
honored recently at the Connecticut High School Coaches Association's All-State
banquet. All seven won state titles.
Nonnewaug’s Alex Paparazzo (103), Tilbe, Austin Hodges (130), Sal Longo (215)
and Steve Aleandri (285) were named to the Academic All-State team for finishing
in the top six of their respective weight class in the Class S tournament and
having an academic average of 85 or better.Thomaston’s Clif Aquino (103) and
Sanford earned Academic All-State recognition along with Terryville’s Josh
Rivard (103), D.J. Russo (119), LaMarre (145) and Dom Folino (152).