Tags Posts tagged with "Wrestling"


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Vin Miceli sizes up his opponent this past season. Photo from Mike Maletta

Although the Port Jefferson wrestling team once again fell short of its goal of a League VII title, plenty of Royals will still see action this weekend — and stepping onto the podium would mean a trip up to Albany at the end of the month for a chance at an individual state crown.

“We have a group of seniors that have been working hard all season,” head coach Mike Maletta said. “It’s still yet to be seen where they’ll end this season, and it all comes down to the next two weeks.”

Matteo DeVincenzo stands atop the podium after his first-place finish at the Eastern States tournament. Photo from Port Jefferson school district
Matteo DeVincenzo stands atop the podium after his first-place finish at the Eastern States tournament. Photo from Port Jefferson school district

The Royals squad ended the year at 5-2 in conference play, suffering a loss to undefeated Mattituck/Greenport/Southold on Jan. 6 and a close 37-36 loss to Bayport-Blue Point in the final league dual meet of the regular season on Jan. 22. The team also beat Hampton Bays, 64-15, in a nonleague meet that didn’t count toward that record.

“We didn’t go 8-0 because we’re missing some of our heavier guys,” Maletta said about the team’s run.

But the team did have success in multiple tournaments.

On Jan. 9, the team took first place by outscoring 14 opponents at the David Sorenson Memorial Invitational held at Long Island Lutheran in Brookville. At the same tournament, teammates Vin Miceli, Joe Evangelista and Matteo DeVincenzo took first-place wins in their individual weight classes.

A week afterward, DeVincenzo took his second first-place crown at the Eastern States Classic, held at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake. To earn his latest title, DeVincenzo defeated three other state champions from a field of 60 wrestlers. Simultaneously, he was voted Champion of Champions by his peers.

The Royals also won the LuHi Tournament, a separate tournament at Long Island Lutheran High School, in mid-January.

“We don’t fill out all of our weight classes, so for us to win a tournament means that our guys who were in the tournament wrestled real solid,” Maletta said. “We’ve had steady wrestling all year from guys like sophomore returning county champion Vin Miceli [and] sophomore returning All-County wrestler Joe Evangelista, and seniors Sterling Nenninger, Dallas Brett and Alex Frohnen have done a great job winning and placing in tournaments.”

Joe Evangelista controls his opponent. Photo from Mike Maletta
Joe Evangelista controls his opponent. Photo from Mike Maletta

Jack Collins also placed in two tournaments and freshman 99-pounder Ricky D’Elia won a tournament, while 106-pounder Robby Williams placed in four this season.

“We’re pretty solid from 99 up to 152 pounds,” Maletta said. “The biggest happy surprise has been Rick D’Elia at 99 pounds, how he has over 20 wins as a ninth-grader. He’s gotten valuable experience, he’s undefeated in the league, so the goal is for him to be heading upstate and getting some even more valuable experience in Albany.”

DeVincenzo’s winning season continued when the graduating senior, who will be attending Princeton University in the fall, set a school record of 141 career wins during the Armstrong Cup, held in Port Jefferson on Jan. 30.

DeVincenzo is now a four-time Armstrong Cup champion, which according to Maletta has never been done before by any wrestler. He surpassed brother Tristin DeVincenzo’s win record of 137 wins in his first match there. He’s undefeated right now with a 29-0 record, and plans to remain undefeated at the end of the month, stepping atop the podium at the state championship.

Matteo DeVincenzo may have a unique trip upstate. According to Maletta, his senior star, who is a three-time county champion, state champion and All-State wrestler, may see a familiar face in his weight class — a wrestler who defeated him in the 99-pound final in his freshman year.

“It would be fitting if they meet in the finals this year, and I have all the confidence that Matteo can top him,” Maletta said. “Coach Ian Schneider and Coach Nick Miceli and myself are just enjoying the ride right now. Very few coaches get to coach an athlete like Matteo, so we’re aware of it, and we’re going to enjoy the next month.”

Rick D’Elia competes in his final match of the LuHi Tournament. Photo from Mike Maletta
Rick D’Elia competes in his final match of the LuHi Tournament. Photo from Mike Maletta

For now, Port Jefferson is sending numerous athletes to the Section XI Division II championship on Feb. 13 at Center Moriches High School.

Other wrestlers competing will be Brendan Rogers, James Laffey, Shane DeVincenzo, Joe Longo, Dylan Berger, Brian Webb, Matt Murphy, Joe Collins, Pedro Nobrega, Chris Lepore, Ryan Walsh and Harry Cona.

“We might not be able to outpace some of the other teams that can fill up the brackets with their athletes, but we’re looking to come away with a group of champions that’s going to make Port Jeff proud,” Maletta said.

Two years ago, Port Jefferson sent a record five wrestlers to the state tournament. Last year, the team dropped back a little, sending three, but the head coach is looking to send another handful of guys back to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championship on Feb. 26 and 27.

“We’re excited about moving forward,” Maletta said. “We countdown in practice because we have to enjoy the time together, because we don’t have much longer. They’ll always be my boys, my athletes, my kids. I’m looking forward to enjoying the next week and hopefully extending it further into the end of February. It’s been a good journey.”

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Matt McNulty and the crowd celebrates Miller Place clinching the league title. Photo from Matt Kaszusbki

It was senior night on Friday, Jan. 22, and the Miller Place wrestling team pounced on Islip to win 34-31.

With the victory came something even sweeter: the Panther’s first piece of a League VI title in 36 years.

“We graduated a quality group of seniors last year, and I think people expected us to take a hit as far as our dual-meet team,” Miller Place head coach Matt Kaszubski said. “In the beginning of the season, we took a couple of losses that we shouldn’t have, and then after Christmas we really started rolling and coming together, and the group bought into what we were doing. The league title was a result of a lot of hard work over many years, and it was awesome to achieve that with this group.”

The Panthers finished last season 13-4 overall, and were 12-4-1 heading into the senior night dual meet, which was the team’s final match of the regular season.

At 106 pounds, senior David Selg found himself down in a match against a good opponent, but pinned him at the 4:36 mark.

“He’s very strong and his pin was huge for us,” Kaszubski said of Selg. “We also had Eddie Marbot, who is probably one of the scrappiest kids we have on the team, have a nice win for us.”

Eddie Marbot pins his opponent during senior night. Photo from Matt Kaszusbki
Eddie Marbot pins his opponent during senior night. Photo from Matt Kaszusbki

Marbot, a senior who weighed in at 138 pounds, won with a 5-2 decision over his opponent. Needing to win one more match to earn the win and a share of the league title with Elwood-John Glenn and Mount Sinai, sophomore Anthony McNaughton pinned his opponent in 1:25 at 220 pounds to clinch the meet.

“Everyone was celebrating,” Kaszubski said. “The motto of the night was wrestle for each other — wrestle for somebody else other than yourself. The kids really stepped up and it was a cool experience.”

For Marbot, it was a once-in-a-lifetime event.

“It was an almost unbelievable experience to be a part of, and something that none of us will ever forget — especially me being a senior,” he said. “To win the league title on senior night was icing on the cake.”

Selg said the team environment became that of a family from the start of the preseason to the present.

“Everyone did what they needed to do,” he said. “When everybody left last year, nobody expected anything, just like coach said, and this year we came back and we were all a family, we stuck together and we won the league title. I’m really proud of my team.”

Marbot added that the camaraderie couldn’t be matched.

“Everyone dedicated their time to improving — going to open mats, going to camps — everyone really came together to build the team,” he said. “And coach Kaszubski, he’s the best coach and teacher that you could ask for.”

The Panthers made it to the postseason as the No. 12 seed, but fell to No. 5 Lindenhurst, 57-9, in the opening round Jan. 27. No. 1-seeded Rocky Point made it all the way through the bracket to claim the Section XI title.

Eric Schreck controls his opponent during senior night. Photo from Matt Kaszusbki
Eric Schreck controls his opponent during senior night. Photo from Matt Kaszusbki

As the wrestlers prepare for leagues and counties, Kaszubski said he has two grapplers, 132-pounder Eric Schreck and 160-pound Joe Bartolotto, who are looking to place high in the county. Selg and Marbot, along with seniors 126-pound Dan Curcio and 154-pound Ryan Ammirato, are also looking to make some noise in the postseason by being league champions and placing in the county tournament.

“We knew we had a good crew,” the head coach said. “It’s nice to see all the hard work over the last couple of years come to fruition. Everyone feeds off of each other and they want to win for each other, so it’s been a blessing to coach these kids.”

For wrestlers like Marbot, being a part of the Panthers’ team is something he’ll never forget.

“I’d be lost without wrestling,” he said. “To end the regular season like this, as a senior, it couldn’t have ended any better. We had a good run. Especially being that no one thought we were going to be anything this year, we really showed everyone.”

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Mount Sinai senior Leon Paul improved his record to 24-2 with a 7-0 decision over his Sayville competitor on Jan. 22. The Mustangs outscored the Golden Flashes 62-15 in the final meet of the regular season, to improve to 6-1 in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Mount Sinai senior Matt Eisenblaetter tries to escape a hold on his way to pinning his Sayville opponent at 170 pounds on Jan. 22. The Mustangs improved to 6-1 in League VI to end the season in a three-way tie for first place with their 62-15 win over the Golden Flashes. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai senior Matt Eisenblaetter tries to escape a hold on his way to pinning his Sayville opponent at 170 pounds on Jan. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

The Mount Sinai wrestling team is locked in a three-way tie at the top of League VI after taking down Sayville 62-15 on the road on Jan. 22. As the curtain drew to a close in the final meet of the regular season, Miller Place and Elwood-John Glenn also won their final games, knotting all three teams at 6-1 going into Wednesday’s opening round of playoffs.

Mount Sinai came out fast winning four of the first five matches with standout pinning performances from five grapplers, including senior Matthew Eisenblaetter, who laid out his opponent at the 3:39 mark at 170 pounds, and sophomore Jake Croston, who put an end to his match in the first period at 220. There were also two major decisions, highlighted by eighth-grader Mike O’Brien won his matchup 11-2 at 106 pounds.

Mount Sinai head coach Matt Armstrong said his team has been able to hold its own despite having three eighth-graders and 11 ninth-graders on the roster.

“The younger kids wrestle in a lot of tournaments and I have an eighth-grader Matt Campo who’s an absolute hammer,” he said.

Mount Sinai eighth-grader Matt Campo, who is controlling his opponent, improved his record to 24-1 after pinning his Sayville competitor at 99 pounds on Jan. 22. The Mustangs improved to 6-1 in League VI to end the season in a three-way tie for first place with their 62-15 win over the Golden Flashes. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai eighth-grader Matt Campo, who is controlling his opponent, improved his record to 24-1 after pinning his Sayville competitor at 99 pounds on Jan. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

At 99 pounds, Campo dropped that hammer on his opponent with a pin early in the second period. Campo was an All-League wrestler last year as a seventh-grader, and with his win, the underclassmen, whom his coach said is the future of Mount Sinai wrestling, improved his record to 24-1.

Co-captain Shane Walker, a senior at 195 pounds, also ended his match by pinning his rival a minute into the second period for his 14th pin of the season, improving his record to 19-1. Classmate Keith Williams pinned his opponent at the 1:37 mark in the 120-pound weight class.

Two-time All-League player and senior co-captain Daniel Henry defeated his foe in a major decision, 11-3, and at 160 pounds, fellow senior Leon Paul took victory with a 7-0 decision in the 145-pound weight class. Mike Zarif, a sophomore, edged his challenger 5-2 at 126 pounds.

Mount Sinai senior Daniel Henry lifts up his 160-pound competitor during his 11-3 major decision on Jan. 22. The Mustangs topped Sayville 62-15 to end the season in a three-way tie for first in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai senior Daniel Henry lifts up his 160-pound competitor during his 11-3 major decision on Jan. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

Paul, a two-time All-League wrestler who is now 24-2, said he was somewhat surprised in his matchup, because he expected more from his opponent.

“I was successful in my takedown,” said Paul, adding that he was happy with his overall performance.

Winning by forfeit was Leonel Paul, Leon’s twin brother, at 138 pounds, as did sophomore Robert Christ at 285.

“Sayville did well — they did better than I expected,” Leonel Paul said. “Our team did well, and our heads were in it tonight.”

Armstrong said that the Paul brothers are the hardest workers in the wrestling room, and have won three tournaments this year between them. Leonel Paul added that he’ll go running every day leading up to the start of the playoffs.

Mount Sinai eighth-grader Mike O'Brien maintains control of his opponent on his way to an 11-2 major decision at 106 pounds, against Sayville on Jan. 22. The Mustangs improved to 6-1 in League VI to end the season in a three-way tie for first place with their 62-15 win over the Golden Flashes. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai eighth-grader Mike O’Brien maintains control of his opponent on his way to an 11-2 major decision at 106 pounds, against Sayville on Jan. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

Also winning by forfeit was Luke Marino, a senior at 182pounds, who talked about what his team will do to prepare for Wednesday’s postseason opener.

“Were just going to be practicing like we’ve done all year” Marino said. “This is a hard working team and I think this is the year that we can do it. We showed that by placing in the top three, which hasn’t been done in 10 years at Mount Sinai.”

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Nick Piccininni, a four-time state champion, will be tough to replace this season. File photo

With four impact-players returning, the Ward Melville wrestling team is hopeful it can rebuild after losing half of the starting squad to graduation.

“It’s hard to project what they’re going to do, but some of the wrestlers did a lot of offseason work and came back much improved from last year,” Ward Melville head coach Bill DeSario said.

The biggest loss from last season is four-time state champion Nick Piccininni.

“It’s impossible to replace Nick,” DeSario said. “But we do have some young guys that are coming up that have impressed me in the first meet that we had. We wrestled Commack on Saturday, and they seem to be learning.”

The Patriots topped Commack, 51-21, and junior 113-pounder Kenny Cracchiola, who was ranked third in the league last season, said his team performed well.

“We won most of our matches,” he said. “We still have a lot of things to work on and improve before our next meet on Friday, but I think, for the first match of the season, it was a pretty good test.”

It was a test to see where the team is, and it’s coming along.

Senior Matt O’Brien, an all-county wrestler — ranked sixth — who will be competing at 160, said he told the underclassmen from last season how he put in the work during the offseason after his sophomore year, and saw how much it paid off.

“I realized I should tell them and pass on how important it is to put in the work in the offseason so they could really impact the team well,” he said. “Me and Christian [Araneo], we’ve been trying to help the other kids with moves and teaching them different things and add on to what the coaches are saying. We’re trying to help the kids learn everything they need to, so I think we have a good up-and-coming team.”

Araneo, a senior 220-pounder who will eventually wrestle at 195 this season, is a retuning New York State champion.

“He’s just a force,” DeSario said. “He’s a monster. He’s our top gun.”

DeSario said the team is missing three wrestlers to injury, and said once they return, it will solidify the lineup. He will also be looking forward to seeing the progression of sophomore Rafael Lievano, who will be taking Piccininni’s spot at 126; classmate Chris Stellwagen, who will be competing at 106; and Tom Fitzsimons, a freshman who will be competing at 99. The head coach will also be looking for solid seasons from juniors Jake Weizenecker at 120, Sean Fitzsimons, Tyler Lynde at 170, Aaron Rettig at 182 and Nadlher Jules at 285.

“I really think we just need to train the freshmen and sophomores more so that we can have a lot of good guys ranked,” O’Brien said of the team this year as he looks even further to next. “We have coaches who have been coaching for a long time, so they have a lot of experience, which I think is our strength. Also, we have a state champ on the team, which really helps out, because he’s also second in the nation, so he can teach us a lot of things.”

While DeSario and coach Kurt Ferraro are retiring at the end of this season, DeSario said they’re hoping to set up an assistant coach to be ready to take over the team, but he also wants to make sure the team is set up for the following year.

“The main goal is to try to develop one of our assistants who we hope will take over the program,” he said. “But with that, our goal is to not only make sure we help him, but to also help the wrestlers to leave him with a good nucleus for next year. I don’t know where we’ll end up in League I this season, because it’s one of the toughest in the state, but I think we’ll do very well outside our league, in tournaments, and we’ll see what happens. We’re also looking this season to send more than one guy up to the state tournament.”

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Sterling Nenninger stares intensely at his opponent before a match. Photo from Mike Maletta

“Watch out for us this year, we’re gonna be good.”

That’s what senior wrestler Matteo DeVincenzo had to say about his Port Jefferson high school team, and the New York State champion may be right.

With a 13-4 League VII record over the last three seasons and a slew of All-County wrestlers returning, the Royals have been working hard in the off-season to bring everything they can to the mat this year.

“Last year we had a bunch of holes in our lineup, [but] with all of the guys we have returning, plus the newcomers, we can spread our lineup out if we have to,” Port Jefferson head coach Mike Maletta said. “To fill out 15 weight classes in a small school is almost impossible, and we’re in a good position right now.”

Despite losing several All-County wrestlers to graduation in June, the team still has seven seasoned seniors and plenty of new additions.

Vinny Miceli has his arm raised after winning his first Suffolk County title. File photo by Deb Ferry
Vinny Miceli has his arm raised after winning his first Suffolk County title. File photo by Deb Ferry

Three guys are fighting for the top spot at the 99-, 145- and 152-pound weight classes. One of the 145-pounders is senior Alex Frohmen, who is coming off of a 28-day intensive wrestling camp in Minnesota.

“It’s not just the wrestling aspect when you go to that camp — it’s the amount of discipline you learn [from] being fully immersed in wrestling for 28 days,” Maletta said. “It’s a huge commitment and the expectations are not only for him to place, but to be on top of the podium in February.”

Frohmen also sees his teammates improving, both new and old.

“Some people are really growing and could definitely break through that threshold,” he said. “We’ve been doing a lot of sprinting, which definitely helps with our conditioning. Port Jefferson prides itself in its ability to wear down people and not be the ones panting at the end of the first period.”

At 106 pounds will be returning varsity starter Robbie Williams, who will build off of his experience from last year, when he wrestled at 99 pounds. Also at 106 pounds will be Joey Collins, whose freshman brother Jack, the quarterback of the football team, will compete at 145 or 152 pounds.

Joey Collins has Down syndrome, but Maletta said the athlete doesn’t let his condition bring him down.

“He brings a special excitement to any match that he wrestles in,” the coach said.

At 113 pounds will be returning county champion Vinny Miceli, who has almost 50 wins as a sophomore. His workout partner, Joe Evangelista, is a two-time All-Country wrestler who will be competing at 120 pounds and also has close to 50 wins.

At 126 or 132 pounds will be seniors DeVincenzo, Sterling Nenninger and Dallas Brett.

DeVincenzo is a three-time All-State wrestler and All-American, and Nenninger, also an All-County wrestler, is looking to improve on his fourth-place finish in the county last season.

“He’s our big gun,” Maletta said of DeVincenzo. “To have him anchoring the team is really exciting.”

Maletta said Brett, who was also named an All-County wrestler, is his wildcard.

“He has a funky style — he can surprise anyone,” Maletta said. “He’s never out of a match with the way he wrestles. He’s got a very unorthodox way of wrestling and sometimes he can surprise a guy with a roll or a throw and he lands on top and he can pin somebody.”

Senior Pedro Nobrega is Maletta’s “160-pound Brazilian import,” in whom he’s seen a vast amount of growth.

Chris LePore, who the head coach said is intense when he gets his motor going, will wrestle at 170. Maletta said he can see that sophomore flipping his record from last season.

Matteo DeVincenzo battles his way to his third Suffolk County title. Photo from Mike Maletta
Matteo DeVincenzo battles his way to his third Suffolk County title. Photo from Mike Maletta

Freshman Harry Cona, who Maletta said is willing to learn and attentive in practice, with great body movement for a big guy, will wrestle at 182. His fellow classmate is 152-pounder Sam Caltagirone.

All-County returner Ryan Walsh will compete at 195 and Nick Kafeiti, a junior who is new to the team, will complete the lineup at 220 pounds.

“Last year we were on the cusp of doing great things, so now we’ve been working hard over the off-season and we think we’re at that point where we can perform,” Walsh said. “You can feel the excitement in the wrestling room. It’s very positive.”

The Royals kick off their season with a tournament at Huntington on Saturday and have their first league meet on Wednesday at home against Southampton at 4:30 p.m. On Dec. 16 at 5 p.m., Port Jefferson will host Babylon on its “White Out” night. The team encourages fans to wear white, and the first 150 in attendence will receive “We Are P.J. Nation” T-shirts.

Nenninger said the expectations are high this season, and the team is sticking to its “PJ Nation” motto of not letting anyone cross its borders, while also making the Royals’ presence known despite being a smaller school.

“We face big schools and it’s not like we just give them the win — we’re always going to put up a fight,” Nenninger said. “We have such a small group of guys, but that only inspires us to work harder. We’re a group of strong wrestlers who feel we can take on the world.”

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Port Jefferson wrestler Matteo DeVincenzo has committed to Princeton University. Photo from Port Jefferson school district

Port Jefferson senior and wrestling champion Matteo DeVincenzo has committed to attend Princeton University and join the school’s athletic program next fall.

“I found the school’s wrestling and strong academic offering to be a good fit for me,” he said. “University representatives were very welcoming to me during my visits and I am looking forward to working with the coach.”

DeVincenzo said he intends to study business and finance while also wrestling for the Tigers. As a junior, DeVincenzo earned the Eastern States Crown before moving onto the state tournament, where he took the bronze.

Port Jefferson school district extended its congratulations to DeVincenzo. The school is confident he will continue to bring the Royals pride through his future achievements.

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Tristin DeVincenzo, a two-time All-State athlete and two-time county champion, is Royals’ winningest wrestler

Tristin DeVincenzo wrestles in a previous Suffolk County championship match. File photo

Tristin DeVincenzo may not have started his varsity wrestling career at Port Jefferson on the highest note but he left a mark, as the two-time All-State wrestler, who will be heading to the University of Pennsylvania
in the fall, racked up the most wins in program history.

“He was a little kid with a bad haircut,” Port Jefferson head coach Mike Maletta said of DeVincenzo, one of the first wrestlers he brought up to the varsity level as an eighth-grader, laughing. “He won about 13 matches that year. He still had a lot to learn — he was a little undersized — and over the next couple of years, he continued to work at his skills and worked on his body and got into shape to where he was one of the best wrestlers in the state.”

DeVincenzo knew he had a passion for the sport, and set his sights on improving his grappling game.

“Right away I loved the fact that it’s an individual sport and it all revolves around you,” he said. “I knew the work I needed to put in to be the best. At first I had no mental strength and I didn’t know how to win matches, but as the years progressed I developed a lot of mental strength and a very, very good work ethic and both of those together helped me progress in the sport.”

He did significantly better his freshman year, and signed up for the 28-day J. Robinson Intensive Training Camp in Minnesota in the next two offseasons.

“When he started to show the discipline and the dedication for the sport, I got more excited because I’m a wrestling guy and I wrestled in high school and college,” said Tristin’s father Matt DeVincenzo, who is the athletic director in neighboring Comsewogue. “You have to know where Tristin came from as a wrestler. He always loved the sport, but he wasn’t always a gifted wrestler. Now he’s an All-State wrestler and no one can ever take that away from him.”

The training camp, along with support from his coach, his father and his younger brother Matteo, who is also a Royals wrestler, directly impacted Tristin DeVincenzo’s game, and the athlete began to climb the ladder toward the state championships.

“I surrounded myself with guys that had the same goals as me and the same mindset to improve and get better,” he said of his time at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. “Being on a small school team was also awesome. Everyone looked up to me and I served as more or less a role model, which not only helped me teach others but it taught me a lot about myself.”

Tristin DeVincenzo has his arm raised after winning a county title. File photo from Port Jefferson athletics
Tristin DeVincenzo has his arm raised after winning a county title. File photo from Port Jefferson athletics

Once his junior year arrived, DeVincenzo realized he was on track to surpass the school’s win record, which had been established more than 20 years before. He finished his high school career with 137 wins, topping the previous 134 mark.

“There’s only been eight other wrestlers that have won over 100 matches for Port Jefferson wrestling, which has been around since the 1950s,” Maletta said. “He’s at the top of the heap now.”

DeVincenzo’s now-former coach, who began working with him when he was a quarterback on the junior varsity team, said it wasn’t surprising that his athlete was able to achieve the feat.

“He had the will to succeed — that’s key,” he said. “He didn’t want to fail, so he did what he could to improve on his skills to always be successful. He continues to improve at every level and keeps setting new goals for himself.”

DeVincenzo is used to overcoming setbacks.

After his 39-4 junior-year campaign, he hit trouble in the state bracket but bounced back to place fifth. The wrestler did the same thing at the Eastern States Classic that same season, winning four consecutive contests in the consolations to make the finals, which included three nationally ranked wrestlers.

DeVincenzo won back-to-back Suffolk County championships in 2014 and 2015, and was named a 2015 National High School Coaches Association Academic All-American. Besides athletics being a major part of his life — the competitor also had brief stints on the football and baseball teams — he also plays the piano and trumpet.

“I love playing the piano because it’s another thing that’s on you, kind of like wrestling,” he said. “The work you put into it directly correlates with how good you are.”

Maletta recalls his wrestler earning the All-State honor, and compared the feeling to being similar to the sensation he had when his children were born.

“I had chills down my body,” he said. “When he turned and looked at me after becoming All-State and he jumped in my arms, I had the same feeling. He put so much effort into this and the journey was such an up-and-down one.”

His grit and determination to get to the top helped him attract the attention of multiple colleges and universities and ultimately, after stepping onto the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, DeVincenzo’s decision seemed obvious.

“It’s a Division I program, so it’s good wrestling,” Maletta said. “He’s going to have a great experience and I’m excited to see where the next few years take him.”

To be successful on a big stage, Maletta said he hopes DeVincenzo can continue to carry the same mindset he had in high school onto the college level.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Maletta said. “There’s going to be an adjustment period. There will be days he’ll want to quit and every day he’ll have to wake up, put his feet on the floor, set some new goals for himself and tell himself that he’ll get better every day.”

Alex Tirapelle, a second-year head coach at the helm of UPenn’s program, is looking forward to what the members of his first recruiting class will bring to the program.

“When I arrived on campus in August, I knew it would it would be important to find the right people for the class of 2019,” he said. “While Penn Wrestling will always recruit high-achieving student-athletes, it was particularly important for us to find young men that were representative of the program’s core values — integrity, passion, confidence, persistence and commitment. I believe we have done exactly that.”

DeVincenzo would like to see himself as a multiple placer in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association tournament and, by doing so, qualify for nationals. His ultimate goal would be to become an All-American.

“It’s been a crazy journey, especially from where I started in eighth grade,” he said. “I didn’t really have the confidence in eighth grade and by junior/senior year, I had the confidence that I could do things beyond that. I’m happy it all paid off and I can look back and see I’ve accomplished things in the sport. Wrestling means a lot to me. It’s a lifestyle. I love it.”

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Rohan Murphy, a wrestler who lost his legs at birth, shares his story to encourage kids at R.C. Murphy Jr. High School. Photo from Three Village Central School District

The words and story of Rohan Murphy captivated R.C. Murphy Jr. High School students and staff as the inspirational speaker visited the building in early April and encouraged all to live a life with “no excuses.”

Murphy, who lost his legs at birth, shared his story of overcoming life’s obstacles and physical challenges in order to achieve his personal standards for success.

He told the students how he pushed himself to achieve both academically and athletically, as he went on become a Division I college wrestler at Penn State University.

The event was held in conjunction with the annual town hall meeting, which serves to bring the entire school together to focus on a topic of particular importance.

At the end of his speech, Murphy joined the students’ lunch periods to speak in small groups in order to continue the conversation.