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Wrestling With Pride

It’s been an impressive season for the POBJFK HS Wrestling Team.

Eight wrestlers, including eighth-grader Peter Pappas, were named All-Conference, while two were named All County: Pappas and Dylan Schmidt. Both Pappas and Schmidt came in third (in their respective weight classes) in the county at the Nassau County Tournament, held at Hofstra University on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

Both Pappas and Schmidt had similar tournament experiences in that they both went undefeated on the second day after losing a match in the quarterfinals.

“They epitomized determination and would not allow that loss to deter them from their goals,” said coach Joseph Weinstein of the pair of All-County wrestlers. “Dylan Schmidt avenged his loss in the quarterfinals by beating the same opponent in the consolation finals to earn third place. Pappas has a bright future ahead of him, with his only loss of the season coming to a county finalist.”

The other wrestlers named All-Conference were junior PJ Fusco (fifth in qualifier), senior Justin Tehrani (fifth in qualifier), senior Joe Gruttadauria (fourth in qualifier), senior Nicky Laiosa (team captain, third in qualifier), Max Bettan (second in qualifier) and junior Andrew Weiser (second in qualifier.)

This is the second back-to-back All Conference designation for team captain Nicky Laiosa, two-year captain of the wrestling team (with fellow senior David Kim) also captain of the football team for the past year. Coach Weinstein attributes a lot of the team’s success to the good example set by the captains.

“He has been a tremendous leader for us all year,” said Weinstein of Laiosa, but he also praised David Kim. “Both were outstanding role models in the wrestling room, weight room and class room. They set the tone in practice every day and led by example. They are the two hardest working student-athletes I have ever been around and were the driving force behind all the success we had this year,” Weinstein concluded.

Of course, not all of the team’s achievements can be measured in stats and titles. One of the most impressive accomplishments of the year belongs to Max Bettan who, only in his second year of wresting, had the dedication to get his weight down from 285 to 220 lbs. so he could fill a vacant weight class and help his team win. Congratulations should also go out to Joe Gruttadauria, who made a comeback after a year off from the sport.

What’s next for POB wrestling? Well, this season may be over, but Weinstein has high hopes for next year, after all the team leadership this year has accomplished. “They led the team to the playoffs in both sports and laid a strong foundation for future teams to build on.”