All-State Wrestler Matt Leshinger of Sayville Selects Columbia University


By Matt Diano

Today, it was announced that second-year Columbia University Head Coach Carl Fronhofer picked up his first recruit from the class of 2013 when he landed returning NYS DI place-winner (3rd @120) Matt Leshinger out of Sayville High School in Suffolk County.  The news came on the heels of the super senior’s Honorable Mention selection to the NYS-10 list, a segment of the series published annually by InterMat Wrestling.

Projected as a 133-pounder in college, the addition of Leshinger further bolsters the strong stable of lightweight talent that Fronhofer has built in his short tenure at the helm of the Ivy League program.  Last season, it was Joey Moita (a multiple-time All-American in the international styles, as well as 2x State place-winner) and Johnson Mai (2x State finalist/2011 Champion, who also won the 2011 Junior National Greco-Roman title), both of California, leading the strong surge of young 125/133 pounders flocking to the Upper Manhattan based campus.

Photo by Boris V

Leshinger is also the fourth native Empire Stater in the past three years to commit to the Lions.  He joins current freshmen Chris Loew (184) and Connor Sutton (165), as well as sophomore Ben Villaret (also a 165-pounder) in making up a strong nucleus of in-state studs looking to take the EIWA conference member to the next level.

A much heralded student-athlete since his days competing as a Schoolboy, it was evident from a very early stage that Leshinger was going to be a special talent. A late starter in some respects (his first year competing was in 7th grade), it did not take long for the future Lion to demonstrate the vastness of his ceiling when he was a 2009 double All-American, placing 8th in both international styles. From here, the legend was born. And, with each passing year, like a fine wine, the product just seems to get better with age. A two-time All-Suffolk wrestler heading into his junior year (finishing 4th @96 in 2010 and 6th in 2011 @113), Leshinger would enjoy a breakout campaign last season, compiling a record of 44-6 en route to winning his first sectional crown, as well as earning the aforementioned spot on the podium at the NYS DI tournament in Albany. Included among this plethora of wins was a victory over eventual 2012 State Champion, Sean McCabe (currently a freshman at Rutgers), 3-2 in the Section XI quarterfinals. He would post an identical score the following round, besting 2009 State Champion, Mark West, before ultimately taking the title with a 5-4 double overtime win against fellow 2013 Honorable Mention, TJ Fabian (who he also defeated in the state bronze medal match a few weeks later) in the finals. So incredible was this run to the title that Leshinger joined a very exclusive company of individuals to be voted as both the Most Outstanding Wrestler and the Champion of Champions at the County Tournament. He heads into his swan song as the favorite to win the one piece of hardware that has escaped him during his scholastic career, the NYS title.

As gifted in the classroom as he is on the wrestling mat, prior to his commitment, Leshinger had been something of a hot commodity on the recruiting market, attracting the attention of the likes of Dave Amato (Brown), Chris Ayres (Princeton), Pat Santoro (Lehigh), Dan Wirnsberger (Bucknell), and Pat Popolizio (NC State) among the collection of suitors. With older brother, Steven, currently a sophomore on Ayres’s Tiger roster, today will certainly set up a battle for Ivy bragging rights in the Leshinger household.

Congratulations to Matt, his family, and the Sayville wrestling program on this tremendous accomplishment! On behalf of the entire NYS wrestling community, we look forward to seeing this young man do huge things in the Columbia Blue and White !

This article was originally published on


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