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Lions Sports


Posted Wednesday, August 04, 2010 by Louis Destefano

Fischetti, Curatolo bring home the wrestling gold at Empire State Games

, July 24, 2010 12:38 a.m.

Monsignor Farrell state champion Vin Fischetti captured a gold medal at the Empire State Games. - (Staten Island Advance file photo by Anthony DePrimo)

BUFFALO — This past winter, Vin Fischetti became the latest Monsignor Farrell HS wrestler to break through to New York state’s elite class and Tottenville’s Santo Curatolo made a breakout debut.

Friday they continued their ascent, sweeping through the competition to win Empire State Games scholastic men’s Greco-Roman gold medals at Buffalo State University.

McKee/S.I. Tech sophomore Christian Budhi won a bronze, pinning New York City teammate Josh Antoine at 98 pounds. Recent Curtis graduate Robby Zyko placed fifth via forfeit in the open division at 128.

Fischetti and Curatolo triumphed in tense championship matches, winning closely-contested third periods to clinch their titles.

Curatolo — like MSIT’s Budhi — is a neophyte, just finishing his first year of competitive wrestling. He joined the team at Tottenville last fall and by the end of his freshman season with the Pirates was a surprise PSAL city champion at 103 pounds. He went on to win the Greco-Roman states, a USA Wrestling tournament, in the spring.

The Pirate sophomore credits his quick success to some natural ability.

"My strength," said Curatolo. "I’ve never wrestled anybody as strong as me."

"He’s a brawler," said NYC coach Lou DeStefano. "A tough kid. He’s a fighter. He works good underhooks and is able to control the tempo in Greco-Roman."

Curatolo won the 106-pound gold by decision over Western’s Rocco Russo, winning the first period in a 3-3 tie after scoring last, losing the second 1-0 on an escape in the final 30 seconds, then pulling out the final period 3-1.

He was familiar with Russo, having faced him in the first round at Greco-Roman states.

"I knew the kid had better technique than me," said Curatolo, a member of PSAL wrestling commissioner Larry Cantor’s Steeplechase club. "I knew I had to use my strength on him and get my underhooks. I knew what he was going to do. I was watching all his matches."

Fischetti rallied to win gold at 132 pounds, losing the first period 8-1, then winning the last two 3-0 and 2-1.

"He’s been known to come from behind," said DeStefano, also Fischetti’s coach at Farrell. "Even in the high school season he has the ability to come back from five or six points. He didn’t start the best, but he finished the way he needed to."

The Lion senior is coming off a fifth-place finish at the state HS championships in March, the second-highest finish ever by an Islander after his Lion teammate Tony Carlo’s second place in the same tournament. Later that month, Fischetti earned All-American honors at nationals.

But against Long Island’s Justin Paradiso, Fischetti suffered through a one-sided opening period.

"I had to feel him out the first period," said Fischetti. "He’s really strong so I knew I had to work with a lot of technique and then work my strength into it.

"I never really wrestle my best the first period. I don’t know why. But I always win in the last two periods."

In the final period, Fischetti was tied 1-1 but trailing, as the wrestler who wins the last point wins a tied period. But under a new format, the two-minute periods pause and restart with 30 seconds remaining, with the wrestler who is leading starting on top.

"It would have been very difficult to come out and score in those last 30 seconds," said DeStefano.

So Fischetti took care of business before that, executing a snap down move to jump to a 2-1 advantage. Now he had the lead going into those final seconds, and he held off Paradiso for the gold.

"He kept on pushing into me," said Fischetti. "I used his weight against him, pushed him down to the ground and spun behind him."

With freestyle competition still to come, that got Fischetti halfway to his goal this week, the last thing on his list before beginning a new season with the Lions in the fall.

"I had a lot of goals set for the year," said Fischetti. "Place in states. Place in nationals. My job up here was to win double gold. One more to go."

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