ELWOOD, New York, Mar. 19
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Ever since he was 4 years old, Joe Giaramita has found a home on the wrestling mat. The Elwood native’s father, Tom, founded a local youth wrestling program – Blue Wave Youth Wrestling – and Giaramita rose through the ranks each year until he eventually become a three-time All-County and an All-State wrestler for Elwood-John Glenn High School before graduating in 2011.
But, as he made the jump to SUNY Cortland, something changed – after two seasons wrestling for the Red Dragons, Giaramita decided to take a year off after falling twice in the NCAA Div. III Championships.
Giaramita went back to Cortland this season, and he did it to win a national championship; on March 14 in Hershey, Penn., he became the fifth-ever Cortland wrestler to win a national title.
“I can’t even describe how badly I wanted to win,” Giaramita, a red-shirt junior for Cortland, said. “Taking a step away helped me to realize what I needed to do to strive for a national championship.”
The fourth-seeded Giaramita was able to climb through the 197-pound bracket with two dramatic wins over the two-day-long venture. Giaramita knocked off top-seeded Eric Twohey of Wisconsin-La Crosse in the semifinal by pinning Twohey with 51 seconds remaining in the first period. In the championship match, Giaramita overcame a 2-0 deficit by Shane Siefert of Wisconsin-Whitewater by evening the score at 4-4 to force overtime. Giaramita closed the match out with 18 seconds remaining for a season-record of 32-1 and a national championship.
“I had great fan support this year and that’s definitely one of the reasons why I was able to do so well,” Giaramita, who studies communications at Cortland, said.
Giaramita’s father, Tom – who just this month had taken another young group of Blue Wave wrestlers to a state tournament of their own – said the experience of watching his son earn a championship was “phenomenal.”
“A year away from the sport made him hungry, it made him want it more,” Tom said. “After he won, he couldn’t stop smiling; I’ve never seen him smile that much. He did a great job.”
At Cortland, Giaramita is coached by head coach Brad Bruhn and his coaching staff, consisting of five assistant coaches – including Dale Debacco, who Tom said helped his son become an even better wrestler this season.
Looking towards next season, however, Giaramita said he’s excited to get back to wrestling and seeking a national-team championship with the Red Dragons.
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Record
(Thursday, Mar. 19, 2015; A27)