Q and A: Pittsville's Lassa tough to handle on gridiron and mat

Q and A: Pittsville's Lassa tough to handle on gridiron and mat

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Q and A: Pittsville's Lassa tough to handle on gridiron and mat

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PITTSVILLE

James Lassa was one of the biggest players on the Pittsville football team this past season.

He looks even more imposing in a wrestling singlet, when his broad shoulders, muscled arms and tree trunk legs aren’t covered by pads.

Lassa, a Pittsville senior won his first Marawood Conference wrestling title on Feb. 1 and takes the first step towards the state tournament at Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 regional tournament at Edgar. He enters the postseason with a 15-0 record.

“James is a weight room rat,” said Dan Hahn, who coaches Lassa in both sports. “If there weren’t sports, I still think he’d lift as much as he could. He’s worked hard in the weight room and it showed during football and in wrestling. He’s the strongest kid on the team.”

Lassa was a first-team all-Marawood Conference selection as a defensive lineman this past fall.

What did it mean to you to win your first Marawood Conference wrestling championship? It was exciting. I was so close last year, so I really stepped it up this year. The competition was tough and I wrestled my style and came out on top.

Is it tough to prepare for regionals knowing you’re going up against the same guys again? Not really, because you know what they like to do. Big guys like to head tie and go for throws. I’m going to stick with my Russian arm tie and shoot my singles. I have to come at the big guys from an angle so I don’t end up underneath them. It’s tough to get out when you’re outweighed by 30 or 40 pounds.

Why did you decide to wrestle 285 instead of 220? (Assistant) Coach (Rick) Winters told me that I might have a better shot at heavyweight. I weigh 220, but I’m faster than the heavyweights and I’m stronger than most of them too. The guys at 220 are more athletic, not that I’m not, but it just might be an easier road at 285.

Being the biggst wrestler in the room, who do you practice with? I’ve got great practice partners. A lot of alumni come in to practice with me. Olie Voight, Kyle and Jeremy Duerr and Andy Fox. They’re all bigger than me and wrestle like heavyweights, so I get great workouts at practice. They help with everything and have me ready to go for matches.

What was the playoff run in football like? We got to keep coming to practice and working hard, knowing we had a chance to go all the way. We worked hard to get better every day. Playing football in November was great. The community and school were excited for us and followed us to the end. It was a lot of fun and something I’ll always remember.

How did you deal with being double-teamed during football? We would work on that in practice. Two guys would block me and I would work on splitting the blocks to try and make all the tackles that I could. It’s tough during games, but makes me feel good that they put two guys on me to try and stop me.

What are you plans for next year? I’m planning on going to Rochester Community College (Minn.) to play football. I’m going to make a visit after wrestling is over. I want to go into welding or something in the construction industry.

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