Wrestling: A Good Year
After a very hard-fought season the Gray Bee wrestlers have wrestled their way to a very successful season, ending with a record of 21-1. Wrestling captain Anthony Augustin SY had high expectations for the wrestling season. “My expectations for the season were — to become an All-American, improve heavily from last year, and help everyone on the team to wrestle to the best of their ability.”
Senior Rodney Fequiere agreed that it was an important year.
“The morale that was held throughout the season was to stay together and keep the tradition past wrestlers have left alive,” said Fequiere, the team’s wrestling manager. “Coach (Frank) DiPiano worked to get the wrestlers to understand that they must hold onto the tradition that past wrestlers and men of St. Benedict’s Prep had accomplished in order to maintain the wrestling program the right way and for it to be successful.”
Teamwork was a main goal throughout the season for the wrestling team and it proved to be a key factor in its success.
The wrestling team would open its season away in Connecticut. During this time a tragedy occurred a week prior with the death of a beloved faculty member, Mr. Spencer Vespole, from cancer. This motivated the Gray Bees to fight harder. Despite not being home and having to deal with the loss of Mr. Vespole, they still came through and won the championship in the Loomis Chafee Holiday Duals defeating Trinity Pauling, Avon Old Farming, Green Farms Academy, and sealing the deal by defeating Brunswick School.
During Christmas break, the Gray Bees would go on to compete in the Caldwell Tournament. However the Gray Bees would not be as successful as in prior tournaments, coming in at fifth place. However, the team stayed true to the St. Benedict’s motto, “Benedict Hates a Quitter.” The wrestlers trained hard and a week later they won the 55th Annual Gary Vittorio Tournament at Parsippany Highschool and won the title at the 2nd Annual Tim Groves Memorial Tournament at West Orange High School.
Coach DiPiano said he was happy with how the boys competed in both tournaments. “They fought hard and never stopped”he said.
The Gray Bees would wrap up a busy Christmas break by winning the Dave Ironman Invitational on Staten Island in New York. This was the wrestling team’s fourth championship out of five at this point. Success had been coming the Gray Bees way but they were still hungry for more.
On Jan. 11 the legendary former Benedict’s wrestling coach Mr. Michael DiPiano ‘82 hosted the 9th Annual Big D’s Gift of Life Duals in Dalton Gym to talk about Organ Donation and its importance. Also at the event, the St. Benedict’s Prep wrestling team was going to face off Kearny H.S, Millburn H.S, and Xavier H.S. The Gray Bee’s emerged victorious in all three matches.
The wrestling team enjoyedsuccess in tournaments but also in the regular season as well.
All the way up to Senior Night against The Hill School, the wrestling team’s record was 10 – 1 with only one loss against Germantown. Senior Night is a special night for seniors as it is their last time playing home and the Gray Bee seniors were determined to make their night special. Moses Fenelus SY described Senior Night simply saying, “It was amazing.” Amazing it was as the Gray Bees would be victorious defeating the Hill School 46-30, making their record 11-1 and making their Senior Night a night to remember.
As the National Prep Championships kept looming closer, the Gray Bees had to keep fighting hard and so they were keeping tradition alive. Now they were headed to Washington D.C., the nation’s capital. St. Benedict scored 234.5 points and placed second, 10 points behind Germantown Academy in the Melee in the Metro tournament.
At the Regional Qualifiers at Blair Academy Ibrahim Mendheim SY and Damon Wright SY placed first to lead the Gray Bees through the qualifier. At the end all 14 wrestlers at the qualiefers had qualified for the National Prep Championships.
The Gray Bees have come a long way to the National Prep Championships. DiPiano, along with assistant coaches Chris Dowdy, Jon Tush, Charles Miseo, and Jack Barsody have led the boys to a successful season. Last year the wrestling team failed to crown a single All-American in recent history. However, team members were determined to change that for this year. In the Nationals the Gray Bees placed 11th. The Gray Bees also came back with four All-Americans: Thomas Fierro SY, Matt Ryan SY, Damon Wright SY, and Ibrahim Mendheim SY.
The wrestling team had an impressive season going 20-1, crowning four All-Americans, and placing 11th in the Nationals. Throughout the season and his first year coaching the wrestling team Coach DiPiano preached tradition and to return to tradition and it seems that they have accomplished their goal of returning to tradition with this successful season. Now they look forward to the future and the great things it has in store.