PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – The Pleasantville varsity wrestling team may not have the numbers it once had, but the Panthers have quality, and that has senior Pete Salzarulo psyched for the 2012-13 season.
Salzarulo is one of three seniors, along with Mark Taino and Jeremy Onuma, and eight returnees for veteran coach Bob Bernarducci.
“We have a lot of potential,” said Salzarulo, in his fourth varsity wrestling season. “We’ve been working really hard. People are probably not expecting us to do much, but we feel we are going to be able to surprise them.”
Salzarulo, who placed fifth in the Section 1 Division II Wrestling Championships last year, and James Bathon, a freshman who won 25 matches last year, are top returnees, as are junior Stephen Paternostro and sophomores Dan Gottlieb, Brandon Castro, Steve Montes, Thomas Marrone and Taino. Onuma is back on the mat after missing the last two years with a serious concussion.
Pleasantville opened preseason ahead of schedule after a summer in which Salzarulo said many of his teammates worked on their own to raise their level. As a result, Pleasantville jumped right in.
“A lot of the guys brushed up on their skills, so we were ready to wrestle,” said Salzarulo, who was a two-way lineman on the Pleasantville football team, which played for the Section 1 Class B title.
The Panthers received a lift with Onuma's returning. He wrestled his freshman year and showed promise until a head injury sidelined him.
“J.O. brings experience into the room,” Salzarulo said of his drill partner. “He picked it up and remembered everything like it was yesterday. He is going to do well this year.”
Experience is something the Panthers also when a senior-laden team led them to the Section 1 Division II title in 2010. Salzarulo learned from that group of seniors what it takes, and he wants to apply it to this team.
“I take pride in Taino, J.O. and me being the only seniors, and we want to lead them,” Salzarulo said. “Hopefully, we can get the team to the level we were at three years ago when we won the section.”
Pleasantville opens the season Tuesday hosting an out-bracket match of the Section 1 Division II Dual-Meet Wrestling Championship. The Panthers wrestle Our Lady of Lourdes, and the other match is Westlake-Dobbs Ferry. The winning teams meet immediately following the first matches.