By Sophia Ricco
The John Glenn wrestling team has been preparing all year to take down their opponents on the mat and are looking to triumph this season.
To kick off the year, the Knights competed in the Eastchester Invitational tournament and dominated, with five of their wrestlers claiming first place. Their champions were Alex Hopkins at 113 lbs., Thomas Giaramita at 152 lbs., Justin Vega at 182 lbs., Jordan Curiale at 222 lbs. and Patrick Ancewicz at 285 lbs.
Their first dual meet against Hampton Bays, led to a victory of 67 to 9. This sets their record at 1-0. The team faced off against Shoreham on Wednesday night and will battle Mattituck on Friday, Dec. 21. After moving down a division this season, head coach, T.J. Brocking feels his boys will be a competitive team.
“We’ve been very successful for the past 15 years and we look to keep that going,” Brocking said.
His wrestlers have put in an immense amount work to conquer their opponents. Brocking works with his team every day at practice to perfect their core moves and style.
“I have a philosophy that we’re very basic, we do the fundamentals really well,” Brocking said.
According to Brocking, “real wrestlers wrestle in the offseason”. It is crucial for his players to attend camps and clinics, where they can pick up new techniques and strategies, while competing against other serious wrestlers around the state. In order to beat a challenger, the boys must be prepared for any situation they encounter on the mat.
“We have answers for what other people do to try to stop us or score against us,” Brocking said. “We do one thing, they do something, we have an answer for that. They do something different, we have an answer for that.”
This season, the Knights will compete in six tournaments and eight dual meets. During a dual meet, each wrestler has a single match to score points for the team, while a tournament could see a wrestler facing off up to five times. This is when wrestlers can gain the most experience and vie for an individual awards.
“The best way to get better at wrestling is spending more time actually wrestling,” Brocking said.
With only one starter per weight class, it is essential that a player earns this spot to represent their team.
“The good thing about wrestling is you got to beat the guy on the mat,” Brocking said. “That’s how we do it, we call them wrestle offs. If you both want to be starters at a weight class, it’s whoever wins that match that is the starter.”
The boys may have to fight one another to gain the starter spot, but the team bonds can endure.
“The tight knit group of wrestlers that we have, do everything together, so they’re very close,” Brocking said.
Leading the team is captain Jared Albert, who has been an asset for years and is expected to do great things this season. They have three returning all-league wrestlers, Thomas Giaramita, Justin Vega, and Patrick Ancewicz, who earned this distinction by winning many matches postseason. Jordan Curiale is off to a great start as well and is looking towards a bright future.
“We’ve got young kids that have been around for a long time,” Brocking said. “This is one of the youngest teams I’ve ever had but they grew up in the program, from the youth league up. We’re hoping they continue to develop and be their best in the postseason.”
As a coach for their community youth wrestling club, “The Blue Wave”, Brocking has witnessed some of his wrestlers grow up before his eyes. Starting as young as kindergarten, the club sets a foundation for future wrestlers.
“This experience is where the moves and techniques become second nature,” Brocking said. “The kids could do it no matter what’s going on, with their eyes closed, or in their sleep.”
The boys are looking forward to challenging Mount Sinai, the defending NY State Champions, and hope to “upset” them this season.
In Brocking’s 12 years coaching, the Knights have won the Suffolk Team Title four times, the League Championships eight times, had 19 all-state wrestlers, 11 county champions, 59 all-county wrestlers and sent 21 kids to wrestle in college. The team’s ultimate goal is to become NY State Champions, but first they must win the County Championships.
“The chance to be a sectional champ is a big goal this year,” Brocking said.