Leaving a legacy is a big part of high school wrestling. Certain individual accomplishments lead to the all-important “name on the wall,” and once your name is there, it does not come down. For three Panther wrestlers, Saturday was a day where legacies were made.
Tony Ginacola, Dan Penissi and Alex Irwin all won individual titles for Collingswood and will move on to wrestle in next weekend’s Region 7 tournament. Also joining them next weekend will be Mike Campbell, who finished second at 160 pounds, John Deaner, who placed third at 152, and Anthony Valianti, who took third at 195. Zane Chunko will also be wrestling next weekend after finishing third at 126.
For Giancola, a 16-3 major decision gave him his third district title. The senior also won titles at 103 pounds the past two years. To put that in perspective, only five other Panthers in Collingswood’s storied history have won three district titles.
“I see myself up at the top with all the other great wrestlers from this school,” he said. “I want to be above that though. I want to win regions and place at states so I can be at the top. I’m not done yet.”
“It’s exciting for Tony,” head coach Dechlin Moody said. “I’m proud of him. He’s put a lot of hard work in. He deserves it. But we hope it doesn’t stop there.”
Penissi was also able to capture a title in his last go around. The senior won 3-2 in an exciting final match at 132 pounds.
“I’ve been wrestling since I was 4, and having seen partners that have won it, to finally win one is exciting,” he said.
“Dan’s been wrestling forever and I was glad he got it,” Moody said. “I’m glad he got to get on the wall with his brother (Rich, a region champion in 2008).”
Irwin, a junior, took home the 138-pound title with a 7-4 win. Penissi and Irwin are partners in the wrestling room, and winning the title together makes it that much sweeter.
“Being able to win with my partner is awesome,” Penissi said.
But as a team, the Panthers fell short of a title. Haddon Heights stole the show with a score of 169 and Haddonfield finished second with 138.5. Collingswood finished in third, scoring 134.5 points.
“I expected to win,” Moody said. “I was proud of my kids in the finals, and the kids who took third, that was big. I’m proud of them, but I always want more.”
“The goal was to get everyone out of Friday and then go on from there,” Penissi said. “Obviously that didn’t happen, but we did the best we could.”
And for Giancola, Penissi and Irwin, their best means a spot in Collingswood history.