Carmine Magnoli became just the sixth Weston High School wrestler to win a South-West Conference title. The medal that goes with it represents an incredible accomplishment for a young man who just a few years ago was ready to give up the sport.
Magnoli, a senior, beat Newtown's Aaron Nezvesky, 5-2, in the 189-pound final last Saturday. Magnoli improved to 26-1 on the season. His only loss was to Greenwich's Ben Ceci, the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference champion, in December.
It all seems odd now, given Carmine's level of success. After his freshman year, however, he wasn't sure he wanted to continue. He felt frustrated at not cracking the varsity lineup, and injuries took their toll. He also played football, and players were working out. Coach Mario Federici, an assistant in Carmine's freshman year, took over as head coach in Carmine's sophomore year and persuaded him to stick with wrestling.
Magnoli made the most of his decision. He wrestled at 170 pounds as a sophomore. Despite giving away nearly 10 pounds, he went 28-7. Last year, Magnoli finished third in the SWCs and second in the Class S tournament. He weighed about 170 pounds and wrestled at 189. He has amassed 103 career wins.
He will look to add to his laurels beginning Friday in the Class S championships at the Sport and Medical Sciences Academy in Hartford. Carmine is seeded second at 189, behind undefeated Mark Dilley of Thomaston. He could also face a tough semifinal matchup against Somers' sophomore Kyle Foster (27-1).
"I'm hoping to win it, I'm going up there with that mindset,'' Carmine said. "I've worked hard for three years to get to this point. I want it for me as much as I want it for the team. We've grown from six kids to 20, and we're on the right track. I want to make a statement that Weston wrestling has something to be proud of."
Carmine is one of only two seniors on the squad. He started in a program with the town's recreation department when he was in sixth grade. The program disbanded after Carmine wrestled as a seventh-grader, and he's one of the few wrestlers with any experience before high school. Six other current seniors who were on the team last year quit this year, one because of injury.
Carmine, who also plays football and lacrosse, plans to attend Avon Old Farms as a post-graduate student and then wrestle in college. It's a testament to the young man's character that he's showing the team's underclassmen that their hard work now will reap dividends. "They're all going through what I've gone through,'' Carmine said. "We're all out there battling."
Timothy Levene (103), Richard Prackup (112), Remy Babson-Smith (125), James Keeney (130), Nick Bertram (135), Geronimo Valin (140), Christian Ameden (145), Matthew Brooks (152), Christopher Piscatelli (160), Ryan O'Connell (171) and Patrick McGlone (215) will also represent Weston in the Class S championships. "They have the desire,'' Carmine said. "They just need the experience and practice."
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