Avon’s Isaiah Adams wins another State Open wrestling title, Xavier wins its second straight team championship

Avon senior Isaiah Adams had one State Open title in wrestling. But for his senior year, he wanted another.

Saturday afternoon Adams, who will wrestle at Harvard next year, pinned Kyden Merlin of South Windsor at the 5:54 mark of the 113-pound final to win his second title at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.

“I’ve been working up to this moment as long as I can remember,” said Adams, who is undefeated this season. “At the beginning of the season, our coach asked what our goals are: I said, ‘I want to be a two-time Open champ’ and from there, we got to work, so this is a big moment for me.

Xavier won the State Open team title for the second straight year, finishing with 175.5 points, ahead of runner-up New Fairfield (121.5). It was the Falcons’ third championship; they won their first State Open title in 2012.

“We try not to talk about it much but if we do, we talk about just doing the work and let the schedule we wrestle speak for itself,” Xavier coach Mike Cunningham said. “Hopefully all the tough matches we had will pay off and put ourselves in a position to be there and have a chance. That’s what we talk about.”

Xavier had two winners: Charles Weidman, who beat Suffield/Windsor Locks’ Joshua Nieroda 14-5 in a major decision at 182 pounds and Raekwon Shabazz who had a technical fall over RHAM’s Ben Fournier at 106.

“I knew no one worked as hard as we did in the practice room,” said Weidman, a sophomore. “Our goal was to work as hard as we can and see what the results were.”

Weidman did not place last year at the Open.

“Last year mentally – freshman year - I wasn’t ready for the big time,” he said. “Now I’m good.”

East Hartford sophomore Jaeckez Mendez also wanted redemption after finishing fourth at the Open last year. Saturday, he won his first State Open title over Anthony Basile of Xavier, a 5-2 decision at 138 pounds.

“I felt really good,” said Mendez, who is 38-0 this season. “Warming up I put on an attitude that I’m going to win. I thought, ‘There’s no other choice.’ I worked year round for this.

“I was angry about how last year ended. Now I’m in the finals, I’m not getting tired. I’m a third period wrestler. I had a good match. It was fun. And I won.”

The girls State Open took place at the same time as the boys and featured individual titles but no team championships.

Valerie Turgeon, a senior at South Windsor, won her first State Open title, following in her father Steve’s footsteps. Valerie won a 9-4 decision over Gianna Silva of Masuk at 120 Saturday. Her father is an assistant coach at South Windsor.

“It’s amazing,” said Valerie, who finished third last year. “I wanted to make him proud.

“I trained harder. I took that loss to heart and I worked harder and got better.”

Valerie gave up gymnastics after eighth grade.

“It wasn’t my pace,” she said. “This is more my style. I enjoy the one on one battles.”

Steve won a State Open title in 1975 at 126 pounds at East Catholic.

“It was wonderful,” he said. “She’s been very good all year. She had a lot of tough matches wrestling boys a lot. There’s a big power difference there but she did OK. She won some matches.

“It was great to see her come here and win this tournament.”

Lori Riley can be reached at lriley@courant.com.