Still Embracing the Grind

Wrestlers Continue 2018 Season


Gino Fornaro Places 2nd at the Wellsville Tournament

The 2017–18 wrestling team has taken on the “small but mighty” attitude for the year. Starting with just under 20 boys at the beginning of the year, the realities of the sport shaved the roster down to only 11, currently. What they don’t have in participation numbers, they are trying to make up for in work ethic, discipline and effort.

Junior co – captain Gino Fornaro, who missed the entire 2017 season due to a broken leg suffered in football, currently leads the team with 20 victories and has placed in four tournaments. Right behind Fornaro is sophomore 195, Lou Alesnik. Lou currently has 15 wins on the season (after winning only 6 matches all last year) and has placed “top 4” the past two tournaments. In addition, Lou beat his first “state – ranked” opponent at the Wellsville Tournament. Returning district qualifier, sophomore Tyler Moriarty, currently has a 14 – 12 record (after winning only 9 all of last season) and recently placed 3rd at Wellsville. Junior returning district qualifier, Solomon Troychansky (126), sophomore Tyler Moriarty (145) and sophomore Beck Thompson (132) all follow closely with 13 wins on the season and recent tournament  placements. Rounding out the varsity line – up has been a foursome of 9th graders, including Dante Mirabelli, Tyler Mack, Damian Gambrill and Ethan Alvis.

As they’ve done for years, the team competes in events of varying strength. Seriously tough tournaments like Top Gun and Olentangy Liberty provided the team a glimpse of what elite wrestling looks like and gave the members a chance to compete versus state and nationally ranked opponents. Events like Perry, Kenston, Wellsville and the CVC tournaments are not so intense and give the boys a chance to compete with other teams closer to our current ability level and have more immediate success. As always, this provides a mix of results and benefits.

Coach Mr. Joe Marino explained, “People ask why we go to events like Top Gun, Liberty and Ironman; the answer is simple. I want our guys to see the elite level of wrestling that is out there and attainable; then I want them train accordingly and aspire to achieve that level in their own careers. Beating lesser or inferior opponents is not going to help our guys at the sectional and district tournaments when they step onto the mat in a “go to” match. You have to wrestle people who are better than you or you won’t improve. Sometimes that’s a painful lesson, but the long – term benefits are clearly there for those who are willing to train.” Alesnik agreed: “Last year I only won 6 varsity matches. I have made a lot of progress this year. At Top Gun I began to figure it out. I beat two seeded [wrestlers] and won three matches. I have gained a lot of confidence since then. For next year I plan to keep getting better. I want to live in the weight room and I will be [wrestling] in state before I graduate.”

Helping the boys train include several alumni who have returned to coach the team. Class of 2008 and 2009 graduates, Sam Delpra and Adam Walters, are both on staff. In addition to being accomplished high school wrestlers, both were nationally ranked college wrestlers who competed in the NCAA tournament. Walters claimed 3 all – American finishes while at Findlay and Sam was ranked as high as #6 in the nation at Lake Erie College. Marino said, “The benefit of having guys like Adam and Sam in the room is just impossible to explain. The fact that they competed in the NCAA tournament gives them instant credibility with the boys, and the fact that they are alumni who trained in the same room as the kids are now wrestling, will hopefully motivate our wrestlers to say, ‘Hey, if they did it, why not me’ ?”

As far as the future of the program, Marino is optimistic. “Like many public schools, success comes and goes in cycles. From 1999 to 2012 we had a lot of success and watched many kids compete at the state level. Then we hit a four year slump; it was tough and frustrating. But we had a state placer in 2016 and a qualifier last year in 2017. I’m confident that over the next two years, if these kids continue to train and improve at the rate they are currently going, this team will win a CVC title and send at least 2 or 3 of these guys to state. I firmly believe that.”

In addition, Marino said he was very optimistic about the level of talent and ability currently on the 7th/8th grade team. “Some of our 7th and 8th graders have serious potential to do well in this sport. It’s been awesome working with them the past two years in the practice room; they are a great bunch. Hopefully, they now have a good foundation as to how to be successful in the sport, and I look forward to watching them train, progress and grow over the next few years. Some of them have unlimited potential as wrestlers. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with it.”

Here’s to the future !