PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – Mark Grant came to wrestling in his freshman year when a friend suggested it to him.
The Hendrick Hudson senior laughed when he recalled weighing 81 pounds. Even though Grant was on the team, he was not allowed to wrestle because he did not meet the minimum weight of 88 pounds to compete in the lowest weight class – 96 pounds.
Grant gained weight and became a starter his sophomore year, and Monday he took his journey to a next level with the ultimate Section 1 wrestling achievement. Grant scored four points in the final eight seconds to celebrate a 7-5 victory over North Rockland’s Derek DiMarsico in the 113-pound final at the Section 1 Large School Wrestling Championships at Pace University.
The victory made Grant Hen Hud’s first sectional champion since Anthony Alberti won consecutive titles in 1989 and 1990.
“Going into the third period, Coach (Paul) Lavallee asked me if I wanted this or not and if I did, he told me to go even harder,” Grant said. “I knew I had to because I felt I was a little sloppy the first two periods.”
Hen Hud assistant coach Shane Turrone has worked with Grant and is impressed with the new champion’s drive.
“It all started coming together for Mark in his junior year, when he started getting better with his technique,” said Turrone, a former Hen Hud sectional place finisher. “This year he has been incredible. He has perfected his technique, listened to everything we have told him and worked hard every day in practice with Jack Wagner.
“We named Mark a team captain because he earned it.”
Looking back, Grant said that even though he joined freshman year, he was not too excited about it because he could not wrestle. This drove him for his sophomore year.
“I started at 103 and the coaches relied on me to get wins,” Grant said. “They would sometimes bump me up to 112.
“Last year, when I beat a sectional place finisher at Super 16, I realized I was getting good. I qualified for sectionals, but I didn’t make it to the second day.”
Turrone said Grant deserved the title because of his motivation and work ethic.
“This could not have happened to a better kid,” Turrone said. “He has come a long way. He never went to any camps or clinics, but relied on his talent, work ethic and coaches. It is great that Mark won a sectional title and it gives a lot of our younger kids motivation and confidence.”