'Pack' Mentality: Yorktown's Joe Mastro Commits to North Carolina State

 
 
Joe Mastro went to the ACC wrestling tournament in March as a fan. He plans on attending in the future as well – but as a competitor.  

The Yorktown senior, a third place finisher at the Times Union Center in February recently committed to North Carolina State.

“It’s a great environment and a great school,” Mastro said, adding that he chose the Wolfpack over Duke and Air Force. “I’ve known Coach [Pat] Popolizio for a while and I think with Coach Beasley and Coach Kelly, NC State is going to do great things.”

Photo by BV

Mastro sees his future team as a group on the rise. His Yorktown squad was the same way during his career, led by the Class of 2013, which boasted a quartet of state qualifiers, including Mastro, Steven Sabella, David Varian and Thomas Murray. The program achieved new heights, including a runner up showing at the Section 1 tournament this year with three champions and a top 15 finish in the team race in Albany.

“This senior class has been together since eighth grade and we’ve been progressing ever since and moving our way up,” Mastro said. “It’s been exciting. We all want to see continued success of the program. We want to see the guys there now break the records we set.”

One of those marks certainly won’t be broken. Mastro will always be the first-ever state placer from the school, albeit by a thin margin.

“It’s funny because right after I took third, I ran over and my teammate Thomas Murray was just starting his [182-pound] match for third,” Mastro said. “I was the first placer, but it was pretty close – I probably got it by about five minutes.”

Given his bronze medal performance, Mastro also currently owns the best-ever finish in Yorktown history (Murray earned fourth). But it wasn’t easy.

In his first trip to the state tournament, Mastro said the nerves got to him in his opening bout with Konstantin Parfiryev of the PSAL. Before he knew it, he was in a 5-0 hole and despite a furious comeback, he dropped into the consolation bracket with a 7-5 loss.

But it didn’t take him long to turn things around.

“I had to regroup,” he said. “I loosened up and told my coach it was time to come back and take third. It was long and grueling, but I was able to get it done. I really turned it up and felt like I wrestled the way I should have in my first match. It was a total 180 from how I started. I had a short term memory about it and put a lot of points on the board.”

He definitely did.

First, a 17-1 technical fall, then a pair of major decisions over the number two and three seeds, Angelo Kress of Columbia and Zach Joseph of Shenendehowa.

Then, in the consolation semifinals, he met Dan DeCarlo of Port Jervis, a grappler who had beaten him at SUNY Sullivan in January in a close decision.

“I felt like I had controlled that whole match at the Eastern States,” Mastro said. “I had a 1-0 lead with about 10 seconds left and gave up a reversal. I really screwed up. I wanted to go out and prove that I was better than him and the first match was a fluke. I was excited to wrestle him again.”

His excitement showed as he blanked DeCarlo 5-0 to advance to the third place bout, where he captured his fifth straight contest with an 8-4 triumph over Johnson City’s Zach Colgan.

So he’ll enter NC State having finished his high school career on a high note. And he’ll join a growing number of New York grapplers heading to Raleigh.

“I’m definitely looking forward to the warm weather,” Mastro said. “But I think what’s really exciting is that I already know people down there. I’ve known [former Section 1 star and 2013 NCAA qualifier] Sam Speno for a long time and it will be fun to compete with him and some other guys from New York. It’s great that it will be a familiar environment even though it’s pretty far away.”

Joining the Pack: Carthage's Shayne Brady Chooses North Carolina State

Shayne Brady was the first Carthage wrestler to ever make the state finals last year when he was the runner up at 170 pounds as a junior to Dan Spurgeon of Plainedge.

While he recognized the significance of the achievement, especially for his school’s alumni, he wasn’t totally satisfied.

“It meant a lot to all the former Carthage wrestlers because they know it takes a lot to get to the finals,” Brady said. “They were really to happy to see someone get that far.  But I really didn’t expect anything less than getting to the state finals.”

His run to the title bout didn’t go unnoticed.  Brady was recruited by a number of college wrestling programs and earlier this week gave his verbal pledge to North Carolina State, where he anticipates competing at 184 pounds.

“[NC State] has very good coaches and it is an up and coming program.  I really liked the team and the campus is a really nice place in a good location,” Brady said, explaining his decision to choose the Wolfpack over schools such as Maryland, Virginia and Brown as well some Division III programs.

Photo by Boris V

Since his silver medal showing in Albany, Brady has stayed active on the mat, participating in events such as the Journeymen Classic in late September and the prestigious Super 32 Challenge in October.

More than 50 New York wrestlers competed at the Super 32 in the high school division but Brady was the only Empire State representative to make the podium, as he took eighth at 182 pounds.

“I thought I had an up and down tournament,” he said. “I was recovering from mono so it made my matches a little more interesting.  I wasn’t really ok with my performance because my goal going in was to be at least top six and I fell short. But it was a good time and a tough tournament.”

Brady will remain at 182 for the upcoming campaign, where he has set his goals high.

“I want to be an undefeated state champion,” he said.

To get there, Brady said he has been focusing on a number of things.

“I’ve worked a lot on power and strength,” he said. “And also perfecting my technique and the moves that I do well instead of trying to add many more moves.”

He believes those improvements plus the experience he gained at the Times Union Center in February of 2012 will assist him his senior campaign in Section 3 and beyond.

“I was pretty happy with my performance last year at the state tournament,” he said. “But I was really nervous being in the state finals and it took a little bit of time to get over that.  I think that made the difference in that finals match.  I’ll be ready this year.”

 

The Newest Member of the Wolfpack: All-American Nick Gwiazdowski Discusses His Transfer

When Pat Popolizio took the head coaching job at North Carolina State in April, freshman Nick Gwiazdowski, who reached All-American status in his first season with the Bearcats, started mulling his future options.  In early May, the Delanson, NY native got his full release from Binghamton. 

On Saturday night, while on a visit to the Raleigh campus, Gwiazdowski announced that he was transferring to the ACC school.  He answered a few questions for New York Wrestling News from the airport on his way back to the Empire State.

New York Wrestling News: What has happened over the past few weeks since Binghamton gave you your release?

Nick Gwiazdowski: I received some calls from other schools – some were coming after me pretty hard. I wasn’t that interested – you can’t jump on the ship after it sails. It came down to a small chance of staying at Binghamton or going to NC State.

As far as NC State goes, I needed to come down and look at the school, meet with the academic advisors and straighten out some financial things.  On my visit this weekend, everything fell into place and I knew NC State was where I wanted to be.

What were some of the things you really liked on your trip to Raleigh this weekend?

This place is awesome.  It felt like a vacation with the warm weather.  I had fun with all the people I met.

The coaching staff was the biggest factor for me.  I know [Popolizio] and Frank Beasley really well and they know me.  They were so important in helping me be an All-American this year. I just met Jamill Kelly this weekend and he seemed like a great guy.

The facilities were great.  Everyone I talked to said that [Athletic Director] Debbie Yow is all about winning and she’ll do whatever it takes.  People told some stories.  Like about her letting go a strength coach that had been around for a while but who wasn’t getting the job done; wasn’t putting winners out there. The coaches said that she’s basically put every coach on campus on notice. She’s serious about winning and that type of commitment to winning is exciting.

I also thought academically it would be a good fit for me. (Editor’s Note: Gwiazdowski made the NWCA All-Academic team this season).

What are you interested in studying?

I didn’t declare a major yet at Binghamton. My meetings with the academic advisor here were good. NC State has some programs I’m interested in like sports management and a parks, recreation and tourism major.  I spoke with some people who were in those areas.  One wrestling alum talked about his experiences after college with minor league baseball teams, USA Baseball and now as a young athletic director.  There are a lot of good opportunities for graduates.

Did you meet a lot of the team?

I met a few of the guys who were on campus. I hung out with [Long Island native] Ryan Fox who committed to Binghamton but switched to NC State a little while ago.  I plan to go back to NC State in July and I’ll probably meet more guys then as everyone adjusts to how [Popolizio] runs things.

What’s next for you this summer?

Honestly, I’m a little out of shape.  I won’t be going to the University Nationals.  I’ll be working out and getting back into shape.  My next thing is the Adam Frey Classic where I’m supposed to wrestle Ryan Tomei.  I was excited that Josh Liebman asked me to participate.  It will be great to wrestle for a cause like that in front of a lot of people. Then, I’ll head back down to Raleigh.  Right now, the plan is for me to redshirt next year.

Congratulations on your decision.  Is there anything else you want to add?

Thank you.  I will miss my family and friends in New York. It’s a little hard to leave and it will be an adjustment, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.  I felt good about NC State for the last few weeks but after visiting this weekend, everything came together. I knew I liked the coaching staff but everything else is there too – the academics, athletic department, the campus, financials.  I’m sure that it’s the place I want to be.

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Gwiazdowski went 30-9 as a true freshman at heavyweight for Binghamton.  He was the CAA Rookie of the Year after capturing a conference championship and earned All-America honors after taking eighth place in St. Louis.