Danbury High School Wrestling 2021-2022 Season Recap


Maci Pederson

The Hatters’ Wrestling team celebrates after winning the FCIAC Championship

Chris Centeno, Staff Writer

Danbury Wrestling continued its dominance with another strong season. The wrestling team continues producing with efforts from some of the best, prevailing them to success once again. Coach Ricky Shook’s program continues to be great and be one of the best.  

 This season  resulted in an FCIAC Championship, a Class LL Co-Championship (with East Hartford), and State Open runners-up. Another strong season for the Hatter’s wrestling team which adds to their history.  

 The Hatter’s history prior to this season, since 1986, includes having won 33 of the past 34 FCIAC titles, 22 Class LL and 16 State Open titles, and having not yet lost an FCIAC dual meet.  

Captain Kai O’Dell, a consistent leader, who led this team to another successful season. O’Dell is as consistent as a captain can be, considering his 12-0 record (prior to tournament play). O’Dell (138) finished with a State Open title, a Class LL title, and an FCIAC title earning a nod for an All-State selection. O’Dell also earned an All-FCIAC selection and placed in the top 3 at New Englands.

 “The team did more than anyone had expected this year. We managed to place higher than the analyzers thought. We came together as a team throughout the year and by the end, we felt like a family. Our team accomplished more than I had even hoped for. They really pulled it out this year and as a captain I couldn’t have been any prouder, O’dell said. We dealt with adversity throughout the entire year and everyone responded really well anytime push came to shove. Overall I believe we did better than anyone had even imagined we were going to do this year.”

 In regards to last season he said, “I sadly did not reach all my goals and came up short of placements I wanted to exceed. I unfortunately took third in New Englands and took a tough loss in the semi finals. I wanted to avenge that loss by placing at nationals which was a feasible task but ended up losing a close match with seconds left exiting me from the tournament. I was seconds away from winning the match and placing automatically if I had won that match.”

 O’Dell also reflected back on his career: “My high school career taught me a lot, things that I will never forget. Looking back on it I learned how to work hard and push through adversity better than any other sport or experience ever. I made some of my best friends in my sport whether they were on my team or from a different state even. The bonds I made in the sport are amazing and I hope they hold the test of time. The sport of wrestling is amazing at times but there are definitely very humbling and dark times involved as well like the one I just had after nationals. Being able to move on from previous failure and let downs only to grow from them and become better. As one of my favorite coaches told me, “sometimes you have to go to a dark place and fight your way out of it.” This holds true and will never forget it”. Considering how well O’Dell has performed in his high school career and with a strong resume, he definitely has a bright future ahead.

 Captain Logan Kovacs was another reason this season was so successful. Another strong leader and a huge part to their success with another strong season with the consistency and leadership he had. Kovacs (145) was given the nod for an All-State selection coming from a strong season which included an FCIAC title, a Class LL title, and a top 3 finish in the State Open. This season also presented him with an All-FCIAC nod. 

  In regards to his personal goals, Kovacs said, “I’ve always set high goals for myself, I would’ve liked to win a state title and New England title, but overall I’m pretty happy with the way it went with a great team. Same thing as me, the team sets really high goals. I feel like we should be proud of the way we competed. We had a lot of young guys who never started varsity and place in the state. So overall I can say we should be proud of our accomplishments.” Clearly this is a team that holds pride and truly feels like they can reach their full potential and goals. 

 A team does well with strong leadership and setting high standards for themselves, which helps them achieve those goals. When talking about the season overall Kovacs said, “This season was a pretty crazy season actually we didn’t have the talent we’ve always had, and we realized that early when we lost to Xavier. Everyone picked it up and we did pretty well this year.” And when recapping wrestling for him and how its affected him, “Wrestling is a big part of my life and it’s useful for me in the college search. Wrestling is the most humbling sport, but it’s also the most rewarding sport. Having a team that I’ve been wrestling with for years was awesome and I’m grateful for that.” With all the work Kovacs has put in and how well he’s performed, he has something to look forward to when it comes to the next level. 

 Heavyweight Nuh Ajdinoski was a strong anchor who improved as the season went on. Ajdinoski (285) finished with a Class LL title, a top 3 finish at State Opens, and placed second at FCIACS earning a second team All-FCIAC spot.  Ajdinoski also earned an All-State selection.

 His thoughts on his own personal goals, “My personal goals were to go undefeated and win a state title so not really, I feel like my potential goes beyond a class LL title and 3rd at opens.”

He envisions what he could do for his future in wrestling, “I believe that I could’ve gotten an FCIAC and open title but that’s for next year.” Again, high expectations meaning higher goals are expected to be met. When talking about how the team did, “As a team we failed to go undefeated and win all state titles, but I believe our dominant performance made up for this.”  Ajdinoski, a junior, views his next season as an opportunity to improve and be able to lead this team to where they expect to be. 

Others contributed as well including Freshman Christian Pote (All-FCIAC), Sophomore Jesse DeFonce (2nd team All-FCIAC), Sophomore Dominic Iaquinto, Junior Jhonnyel Ramirez, Junior Dan Craig, and many others.