Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Central Cambria's Risaliti faces challenge at West Point

PHOTO COURTESY OF TKO PHOTOS
Central Cambria's Tony Risaliti is headed to West Point, N.Y.,
where he'll attend the United States Military Academy and
wrestle for the Black Knights.
As if facing the demands of the United States Military Academy and Division I wrestling weren't enough, Central Cambria's Tony Risaliti will have a little more added pressure on him when he heads to West Point.
Army coach Joe Heskett wants Risaliti to wrestle 149 pounds, a weight that he hasn't seen in almost two years.
"It’s going to take discipline," said Risaliti, who wrestled 160 in 41 of his 42 bouts this season - and 170 in the the other. "They have a bunch of wrestlers at 157 pounds, so ’49 is what they really want me to go out. I believe it will be a good fit for me, if I can get down to 149 pounds."
If there's any local wrestler that can handle all of it, Risaliti seems to be the one. It's difficult to find a nicer kid, and he's obviously a hard worker. How can  you doubt anyone that's able to balance a winter schedule that often includes school, high school practice, swimming practice (his mom coaches the Red Devils) and Young Guns practice while maintaining a 3.8 grade-point average?
Risaliti won't be wrestling for Army next season. He'll attend prep school for a year, where he will be able to wrestle, before suiting up for the Black Knights.
Still here's what the Army roster looked like this season at 149 - Ryan Bilyeu (sophomore 13-18); Daniel Young (junior 11-4); Jared Ross (freshman 4-6) and Ethan Snyder (freshman 0-0) and at 157 - Jimmy Rafferty (senior 24-16); Chandler Smith (freshman 4-4); Shawn Miracle (freshman 4-7); Paul Hancock (sophomore 2-3); Craemer Hedash (freshman 2-5); and Kenny Skillman (junior 1-3).
Risaliti might have a familiar face with him in the wrestling room. Central Cambria graduate Phil Steinberg went 0-2 as a freshman 197-pounder this season. (Yes, you read that right. After wrestling 140 pounds as a senior in high school two years ago, Steinberg is now WRESTLING UP 57 POUNDS.)
There were some rumors that Steinberg might transfer, but Central Cambria coach Bob Nikolishen said he believes the former Red Devil is staying at West Point.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TKO PHOTOS
Tony Risaliti has 26 falls this season for the Red Devils.
“Philip said he’s going to be a classmate with Tony Risaliti,” Nikolishen said. “That’s the last I’ve heard. We haven’t had contact recently, but as far as I know, he’s staying there.”
Risaliti was 37-5 as a senior. He won the District 6 Class AA title and was named the tournament's outstanding wrestler after beating Forest Hills' Cody Law in the finals. He was the Southwest Regional runner-up (losing to Law in the finals) and finished fourth in the state, with both of his losses in Hershey coming to Central Columbia's Kurt Meske.
Risaliti went 127-30 during his career at Central Cambria.
"He’s played such an intricate role in our program and with our kids," Nikolishen said. "When I got the head coaching job, he was a freshman and he taught me many, many things as far as coaching goes. He’s going to be very, very – I don’t want to say sadly missed – but it’s just going to be a great big hole that I hope that these younger guys have learned enough from that they can attempt to fill it."
Risaliti has some big goals ahead of him off the mat. He hopes to follow his parents, both of whom are physical therapists, into the medical field.
"Going into the medical field and having the opportunity to be a solider, I think he’s going to be great in both roles," Nikolishen said. "He’s a peacemaker and he’s calm when the situation needs a peacemaker. And he’s extremely aggressive when the situation dictates that he be so."
Nikolishen said Risaliti's drive also makes him well-suited for the Army.
"He attacked and he never stopped," Nikolishen said. "When he was down or when he was weak or when he was beaten, he was never going to accept that. He knows how to adapt and he knows how to overcome."
Sounds like a perfect young man for West Point.

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