Staying Home: All-American Travis Passaro Selects Hofstra

Travis Passaro has traveled around the country seeking the best competition.  But when it came time to decide on his future home, he didn’t want to go far at all.

After considering Cornell, Duke and Maryland, the Eastport South Manor (ESM) senior announced a few days ago that he would attend Hofstra in the fall of 2014.

His arrival will double the number of Passaros on the Pride squad as older brother Maverick is now a freshman on the Hempstead campus.

“My brother transferring to Hofstra made me really want to go there,” Travis Passaro said. “I’ve worked out with him my whole life – he’s a great workout partner.  We’ve been drilling for a long time.  That gave me a big reason to go there. I also think the team will just keep getting better.  There are some really good Long Island kids who want to go to Hofstra. And I like that it’s close to home.”

Travis Passaro, Photo by BV

Passaro will get the chance to stay on Long Island, a place where he is already a three-time Suffolk County placer.  He captured his first Section 11 title in 2013 during a 49-4 campaign in which he made a statement in his initial appearance at the state tournament in Albany.

After winning his first two bouts at the Times Union Center, Passaro dropped his semifinal contest against Steve Michel.  However, he responded in the consolations, topping Commack’s Mike D’Angelo in a rematch of the Sectional finals before majoring Pearl River’s John Muldoon, the number two seed, 12-4 to earn bronze.

“I was looking to win the state title going into the tournament, so taking third was a big letdown,” Passaro said. “But, I have another year to come back and win it, so I’m really happy about that.”

For that last campaign, Passaro has set his goals high.

“I want to go undefeated during the season, win states and then go to the FloNationals finals,” he said.

The FloNationals is a significant event for Passaro.  He has had success at a number of events outside of the Empire State, including a fourth place showing at the NHSCA Nationals as a freshman.  However, he said that his eighth place medal at FloNationals in the spring really stands out to him.

“It’s a great tournament, with great competition,” he said. “I wanted to do better, but placing at Flo was something I was really excited about.”

Before he gets another crack at that event, Passaro will face a loaded field at the Super 32 Challenge in October.  A year ago, he came within one win of the podium at the prestigious tournament, losing to Florida’s Jared Prince twice.

This time, he’ll take the mat in Greensboro, North Carolina at 126 pounds, the weight he expects to wrestle for ESM this year.

He got off to a great start in the new class over the weekend at the Journeymen Classic, taking the title (at 130) in a bracket that included All-Americans Kevin Jack (CT) and Zach Valley (PA) as well as New York state champion Alex Delacruz.  He picked up a commanding 6-0 victory in the championship match over Payton Shuford, a multi-time North Carolina placer/2013 3A State titlist.

The future college 133 or 141 pounder believes it’s only the beginning of what he’s capable of accomplishing this year.

“I’ve been training every day, whether it’s lifting or wrestling,” he said. “I’ve been working out with [two-time state champion Nick] Piccinnini, [NHSCA National champion Chris] Mauriello and [Suffolk finalist] Jimmy Leach. I’m just focused on getting better every day.”

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Travis Passaro wanted to thank his workout partners, his parents and his coaches.

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Back to Long Island: State Champ Maverick Passaro Joins Hofstra

Maverick Passaro is back on the Island.

After spending a year at Rutgers University, the former Eastport-South Manor state champion is now a member of the Hofstra Pride, where he plans to wrestle at 133 pounds in 2013-14.

Photo by BV

“It’s a much better fit for me,” Passaro said. “It’s really good to represent the Island and be part of building a team here with the best Long Island wrestlers.  I’m happy to be closer to home and I think I’ll also be able to pursue my career better at Hofstra.  They have the major that I want and I think it’s a better place for me as a wrestler.”

Another bonus to being a member of the Pride is the chance to work with a familiar face.

“I’m really excited to be back with [assistant coach] Ryan Patrovich, who I know for a long time.  He coached me in club wrestling for years.”

But Passaro emphasized that while he’s excited about the change, there were many positives about his experience in New Jersey.

“I had a good time at Rutgers,” he said. “I got along with the coaches and I had great teammates.  I made some big improvements in my wrestling — I spent a lot of time on the mat rather than on my feet and I improved a lot in the top position.”

That time on the mat was more limited than Passaro hoped, however.  He got off to a solid start with a 2-2 performance at the Hokie Open in his first collegiate action.  However, as the squad prepared to face Clarion a week later, Passaro suffered a dislocated thumb in practice.

“I didn’t get to wrestle as much as I wanted because of injuries,” he said. “When I was getting back from the first injury, I ran into another one when I really hurt my back lifting.  It threw me off completely. It was tough to go through a year like that because I was never really hurt before in my life.  It was frustrating to not be able to be out there on the mat the way I wanted to be.”

After only wrestling a few matches all season, Passaro said he applied for a medical redshirt and will find out by the end of the summer whether it has been granted by the NCAA.

In the interim, he’s healthy again and ready to get back to the competition he missed.

“I’ve been training four times a week for about four weeks now,” he said. “I moved in to Hofstra a few days ago and now that I’m living here, it’s a lot easier and it’s different. I feel like I’m really a part of it. I’ve been working with guys like Jamie Franco, Jamel Hudson and Kyle Krasavage.  I can’t wait for the season to get started.”

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Maverick Passaro became the first-ever state champion from Eastport-South Manor High School when he defeated Sam Speno of Fox Lane 2-1 in 2012 at 126 pounds.  Speno was an NCAA qualifier for North Carolina State as a true freshman in 2013.

Passaro isn’t the only anticipated addition to the Hofstra program for the 2013-14 campaign. More details will be provided when available.