HARRISON, N.Y. – Following the 2011-12 Harrison High School varsity wrestling season, captains Joe Maida, Gavin Menchel and David Polakoff, explained to their young teammates what work needed to be done in order for them to improve individually and as a team.
“We told them that if they wanted to do better, they were going to have to lift and wrestle more in the off-season,” said Maida, a senior in his fourth year on the varsity.
The younger wrestlers listened to their veteran teammates and when they returned for the opening of wrestling practice, the underclassmen were ahead of schedule.
As a result, the trio of captains is psyched by the team’s potential. Harrison will open the season early at the two-day Tony Carlucci Dual-Meet Tournament Nov. 30-Dec. 1. Veteran Harrison coach Vinny Nicita, in his 27th season, said the Huskies are grouped with Fox Lane and Horace Greeley high schools.
“We wanted to lead by example,” said Maida of the seniors. “Once they started doing the exra work needed, they started getting better.”
Maida, Menchel and Polakoff all joined the varsity in their freshmen year, along with classmates Bobby Scatenato and Steven Maldonado. Scatenato’s return will give the Huskies a boost. Scatenato missed most of his sophomore and junior years with injuries.
Last year was the first time during Nicita’s tenure that Harrison did not have a senior on the team. That, plus Harrison welcomed a new group of freshmen, all making the step up from modified.
Maida said it was a learning experience for the new wrestlers, but they all benefited from it.
“The younger guys seem to be more confident and they have a better mat sense because they have more experience,” Maida said. “They are also tougher and they are working harder than last year.”
The underclassmen wrestlers are also going to their veterans with questions. As a result, Maida, Menchel and Polakoff are tutoring their teammates, as are assistants Mark Arcara and Mark Fiore.
Maida said the team is psyched to get the season started based of the team’s work ethic and underclassmen’s improvement.
“The potential is endless,” Maida said. “All of the guys have gotten better since last year and are more mature. We are all pumped and we’re ready to go.”