Poland is in its third year of fielding a wrestling team. Its new coach has 21 years of experience, serving the past three years as Alliance’s head wrestling coach. He actually started wrestling in kindergarten and went on to be a state qualifyer for Boardman. He started coaching at age 22, serving as assistant coach for two years before going to Alliance.
Stellato’s record book from 2005 to 2010 contains 22 District qualifiers, one District champ, two District runner–ups, five District placers, three State qualifiers, four State placers, one State runner-up, and one High School All-American placing seventh in the nation.
Stellato’s staff consists of assistant coach Ralph Stellato, a three-year letter winner and graduate of Baldwin Wallace College; head middle school coach Matt Galchickwho was a two-time state qualifier and who is currently attending the University of Mount Union; middle school assistant coach Adam Keck, who was a state placer and competed at Brown University; and assistant coach Bob Nespeca who brings six years experience as a coach.
“This being my first year at Poland, our staff has become one of the premier coaching staffs in the area,” Stellato said. “Each coach has college wrestling experience, which very few programs can claim that. The ability for our young program to be able to attract coaches of this caliber speaks volumes in the direction that our program is headed. This is a direct reflection of the precedent the administration, school system, community, athletes, and parents have set throughout the years which will continue with its newest addition of wrestling. In turn with our staff's accomplishments and experience in the collegiate setting, it is the recipe for success in what it takes to win both in the scholastic and collegiate levels.”
Over the summer, Stellato and the coaching staff hosted a very successful wrestling camp, bringing in The University of Mount Union wrestling staff in as well as having open mats, and open tournaments. The past month and a half the team members have been working hard conducting conditioning and attending open tournaments.
“We have a very young but extremely talented core,” the coach said. "We are learning quickly and picking up the new system that my staff and I are implementing. The keys to success, we need to continue to improve each day, focusing on fundamentals because that’s what wins big matches. We need to build off of our success and grow from our defeats. Right now we have a great attitude and atmosphere in the room. We have beefed up our schedule to challenge our student athletes.”
The Poland grapplers will be attending The Painesville Riverside Rumble and The Joshua Hephner Memorial Tournaments. These tournaments feature some of the top competition in the state, which will prepare the team for the post-season competition.
“This is essential, because if you do not compete against the best, you will never be the best,” Stellato said. "Being a young program, we are still promoting our sport to the school and the community, it is our goal to improve our numbers and fan base. In the future I see our team growing into a premier program in the area an attaining state accolades.”
Stellato said some wrestlers to watch this season include Max Prizant, Tad Duran, AJ Shields, Mike Audi, Abe Kassem, Nick Bilas, Jason Valazquez, and Jordan Ziegler.
Photo by Mike Audi, Town Crier correspondent
Poland’s new wrestling coach, Tony Stellato.