FAIRFIELD — It was 30 years ago Wednesday that one of the most amazing streaks in Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference history began. That was Jan. 27, 1986, when the Danbury High School wrestling team began its winning ways. Against Fairfield Warde on Jan. 27, 2016, however, it felt as if the end was near.
So how come, with his team trailing by two points with two matches remaining in the dual meet, Danbury coach Rick Shook oozed about as much confidence as Cam Newton after a Panthers touchdown?
Two reasons: Jakob Camacho and Kyle Fields.
Camacho and Fields were the final two Hatters up in the meet and after both recorded convincing pins, Danbury had a 37-27 victory. The streak had a happy 30th birthday.
“It was 30 years ago today; pretty amazing,” Shook said after his team improved to 10-0. “I knew we were OK going into the last two matches because (Camacho and Fields) were big favorites.”
Camacho, a likely All-FCIAC pick for the second consecutive year, took care of Warde’s Luke Bender 1:27 into the first period before Fields pinned Brendan Moutinho in 1:40. Those two pins turned a 27-25 Warde lead into 37-27 Danbury win.
Yes, it was more difficult than most contests during the last 30 years but the victory was against Warde, perennially the second-best team in the FCIAC, so a close one wasn’t unexpected.
“It’s been a difficult 24 hours for me because I knew this meet was going to be problematic,” Shook said. “We were missing a couple of kids and it seems like the whole team is sick. And we knew Warde would be tough.”
The Mustangs are getting used to being second fiddle in the FCIAC. While Danbury was won 28 of the last 29 FCIAC championships (Warde won in 2010 after losing to Danbury during the regular season) and 29 consecutive Western Division titles, Warde has been runner-up four straight seasons and in six of the last eight years to go with its 10 consecutive Eastern Division crowns.
“This was one of the closest meets we’ve had against Danbury,” Warde coach Jason Shaughnessey said. “They’ve been the best in the state just about every year and we want to compete against the best. So I’m happy. I told them we wanted to be competitive in all 14 matches and that’s what we did.”
Warde (10-1), led by Timmy Kane (132 pounds), Matt Cuoco (182) and Alex Lobsenz (285), won six of the 14 matches and took the lead after Noah Zuckerman’s 6-4 decision against Danbury’s Victoria Goncalves at 106.
But that brought Camacho, one of three Danbury All-FCIAC performers last year, along with Goncalves and Jeremy Fields, to the center of the mat.
“I definitely felt some pressure,” Camacho said. “(The streak) is always in the back of our minds and I just told myself I have to do it for the team. I knew it would be close because Warde is so tough, but we stayed poised. We had to keep the streak going and we did.”
Camacho’s pin gave the Hatters a 31-27 lead but it still wasn’t over. A major decision or pin by Warde in the final match and the streak would have ended. But Fields and the Hatters weren’t going to be denied.
“The kids know about the streak and they understand what’s on the line,” Shook said. “But what I really like about them is that they stay loose. This team is really loose.”
Other decision winners for Danbury were Jeremy Fields at 138, Jack Laplant (152), Gino Baratta (160) and Jake Constantine (170). Winning by pin were Justin Peterson (145) and Andrew Marquis (195), along with Camacho and Kyle Fields.
Warde’s six winners were Kane, Cuoco and Lobsenz by pin, and Alex Steele (126), John Ocana (220) and Zuckerman by decision.
NOTES: Kane, Lobsenz and Charlie Kane, who did not wrestle Wednesday due to injury, are returning All-FCIAC wrestlers for Warde. … Danbury won the Class LL championship 14 years in a row from 1997 through 2010, and also won it in 2013. The Hatters won the State Open meet 10 straight years from 2001-2010 as well as 2013 and 2014. … Warde won the Class L title in 2006, ’09 and ’10. … The FCIAC championships are Feb. 12-13 at New Canaan. The Class LL meet is Feb. 19 at Trumbull and the State Open meet is Feb. 26 in New Haven. The New England Championships are March 4 in Providence, RI.