By Betsy Veysman
Brian Realbuto was recognized as the nation’s best last July when he won a 145-pound bracket full of highly regarded wrestlers at the Asics/Vaughan Junior Freestyle Championships in Fargo, North Dakota.
The Somers High School star was once again honored this week when he was named the 152-pound representative on the USA All-Star team for the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic on March 25th at Fitzgerald Fieldhouse in Pittsburgh.
“I was really happy to be invited,” Realbuto said. “It’s a really cool event and it means I can roll with the best in the country. I have no idea who I’ll be facing, but I’m sure it will be someone very tough.”
The Dapper Dan, in its 38th year, matches the best wrestler in the wrestling-rich state of Pennsylvania against the top grappler from the rest of the country.
The last New York participant in the event was in 2006 when JP O’Connor (Oxford Academy) defeated Matt Dunn of Reynolds High School at 145 pounds. O’Connor went on to win an NCAA title for Harvard. In 2007, Michael Chaires (Christian Brothers) was named to the squad at 160 pounds but did not compete.
Before Realbuto takes the mat for the USA team in March of 2012, there is plenty left to accomplish. The Cornell-bound wrestler said his most important goal is to capture a third state title.
“I’ve gotten a lot better technique wise and I’ve really had the chance to fix some of my flaws,” he said of his season to date. “I’m not happy about my loss [in the Eastern States championship bout to Dylan Palacio] but come state tournament time, I’ll be ready. I’m training hard and I expect to win in the finals this time.”
Intermat’s #23 overall recruit also wants to earn gold in freestyle again this summer. He said his first priority is to try to make the Junior World team, but if that doesn’t work out, he will attempt to earn his second straight Fargo crown.
“This is only my second year doing freestyle,” he said. “I didn’t place my first year, but I really focused on it when the high school season ended. I felt that I had a great tournament in Fargo; probably the best tournament I ever wrestled. Getting a win over Jake Sueflohn [Nebraska freshman currently ranked 5th at 141 pounds by Intermat] was great and getting the pin in the finals against Brian Murphy [2010 Cadet Freestyle National Champion from Illinois] was huge.”
Realbuto believes that his work with 2010 NCAA champion Max Askren, now an assistant coach at Somers, has vaulted him to greater success both in freestyle and folkstyle.
“Max has given me a different perspective on the sport,” he said. “He breaks it down so well and I feel like I understand wrestling so much better now. He’s improved my positioning and I’m so happy he introduced me to freestyle.”
After summer competition, Realbuto plans to move to Ithaca to begin the next chapter of his career. He said he chose the Big Red for a number of reasons.
“The coaching staff is amazing,” he said. “I really like all of the coaches; they know a ton about wrestling. I also really like the team and how they function as a unit. I went up there a couple of times and also visited other schools and Cornell was the closest team. The education is great and I think I’ll have the chance to be part of a national championship team in the future.”
A stellar group of incoming recruits, ranked the country’s #1 class by WIN Magazine, will join him in the quest for an NCAA team title.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “It’s a bunch of great guys. I went on my visit with [Blair Academy’s] Mark Grey and I met some of the other guys like [three-time California State Champion] Alex Cisneros and [Michigan State Champion] Gabe Dean. When you add this class on top of the great guys who are there right now, the team is just going to keep growing and becoming more dominant.”
To see the USA Team roster for the Dapper Dan Classic, go to: