SOMERS – This season may technically be Ron DiSanto Jr.’s first as head coach at Somers, but in senior Andrew Gross’s eyes, it’s as if his new coach has been there all along.
“I’ve always had him around in my life and he understands what this season means to me,” Gross said. “I dedicated it to my grandmother, who just passed away, and this season means a lot. He really wants the best for the entire team, he wants the best for me and he wants the best for Somers wrestling. He wants to put our name back on the map.”
The name DiSanto has been synonymous with the Tuskers for decades. Ron Sr. and his brother Dennis DiSanto both wrestled at Somers and later coached there, with Ron Jr. wrestling under his father and uncle before moving onto a collegiate career at Rhode Island.
There have been some growing pains as the 24-year-old DiSanto works to build the numbers back up for a proud program, but progress was evident at Wednesday’s 46-30 win over visiting Yorktown.
“Being able to coach at Somers is great,” DiSanto said. “I always wanted to coach, but my No. 1 goal was always that it would be really nice to coach in Somers. It’s fun and feels very natural.”
Gross began the dual meet with an 11-4 decision over Josh Grant at 170 pounds, setting the tone for the afternoon.
Peter Bentivegna (182), Dan Rannekleiv (220), Gerald Maher (99), Eric Giancaspro (106), Graham Roediger (113) and Billy DiBenedetto (120) followed with victories, as Somers won seven of the first nine matches.
“We lost to Yorktown earlier on in the season and we really should have won that match,” Gross said. “To come out on senior night, it was a great opportunity to get revenge on them.”
Gross may represent the Tuskers’ best shot to go deep in the upcoming Section 1 championship tournament, where the field at 170 is looking very competitive.
“I’m really excited to go into sectionals,” he said. “I’ve wrestled (top-ranked Nunzio Crowley of Eastchester) a couple of times. I wrestled him through my youth and I’ve beaten him once, but he’s been my rival for a number of years. My dad grew up in Eastchester, so it’s kind of an at-home rival.
“He’s been wrestling well, there are some other kids who have been wrestling well, and I lost a couple of close matches that I shouldn’t have lost. But I think if I just wrestle smart and wrestle the way that I have been – because I’ve progressed throughout the season – I can definitely get to a section championship. That’s the goal.”
The Huskers went on a run with the meat of their lineup — Pat Patierno (126), Chris Varian (138), Connor Thomas (145) and Ross Mandel (152) — but it wasn’t enough.
“That’s the heart of the order,” Yorktown coach Eric Fama said. “That’s been our solid part of the lineup this season and they could definitely make some noise in the postseason.”
Like DiSanto, the 28-year-old Fama is also a first-year head coach. He was a section champion at New Rochelle and worked there as an assistant prior to this season.
“This is a program that has a lot of history and has had a lot of success,” he said. “We are a young team — half of our lineup is freshmen — and we’re looking forward to the future. We have a huge youth program. We have 50-plus kids in that and we’re going to be bringing a bunch of them up in the next few years.”