DBHS Senior Wrestler Makes History

Brearley girl finishes second in District 14 to advance to regions
Posted on 02/18/2018
Brearley girl finishes second in District 14 to advance to regions

For the past two seasons, a trip to the regionals was so close that Rebecca Pizutocould taste it, but consecutive losses in the third-place match derailed those hopes.

That all changed Saturday at the NJSIAA District 14 wrestling tournament at South Plainfield, when the Brearley senior placed second at the 113 pounds and became one of the few female wresters in state history to punch a ticket to a region tournament.

It was generally believed that a Pizuto victory would have made her the first girl in state history to win a district title, but she was still pleased to have come so close.

“It feels pretty good,” said Pizuto, who was one of three qualifiers at 113 for the Region 4 tournament next week. “I’ve been working for four years doing this. I’m pretty happy that in my last year I was able to do it.”

In 2016, she lost a 6-0 decision to Cranford’s Conor Halpin, and in 2017, she fell, 9-2, to Xavier Laracuente from Woodbridge. Both bouts were in the 106-pound weight class.

With her final year remaining, Pizuto knew there was work to be done.

“I worked a lot harder in the room,” said Pizuto, who was announced at the tournament as the first girls qualifier in state history in Region 4. “I also worked in the offseason to try and build up my critique of moves. I think implementing more things helped me pull it off this year.”

She started the day with a bye and win via forfeit to set up a quarterfinal bout against Cranford’s Will Fernandez. Pizuto pinned Fernandez in 94 seconds for the historic win.

“We had a goal in the beginning of the year that she wanted to make regions,” Brearley coach David Nichols said. “It couldn’t have happened to a better person. She deserves to make it. She’s a good person, a good wrestler and she deserves to have something like this happen to her.”

That kind of support day in and day out has meant a lot to Pizuto.

“My coaches and teammates have been great,” she said. “They push me every day in the room and make sure I get better every day. I’m really thankful for them.”

In the 113-pound final bout, Pizuto dropped a close 4-1 decision to Ken Beck of Middlesex/Dunellen.

“I was trying to work the head a little bit,” she explained. “I got a front headlock and thought I had it on the outside, but I didn’t. I was on top and couldn’t hold him down. I tried my bars, which is what I like to do, but I just couldn’t hold off. On the edge I thought I had it and I didn’t. Just little things I have to work on.”

Pizuto knows she has to quickly hit the reset button and work on a few things as she heads to the regions for the first time.

“First thing I’m going to do is watch videos to see what I did wrong,” she said. “After that I’m just going to work to move on. I can’t dwell on that. A loss is a loss. I can always come back from this.”

• For the 34th consecutive season, South Plainfield reigns supreme in the district tournament.

Anthony White won his first title at 106 with a 5-1 decision, which was one of nine individual title by the Tigers on the day as the group finished with a 256 points overall.

Joe Heilmann finished his fourth district tournament with his fourth district title and also took home the Outstanding Wrestler award.

He had two pins on the day, first in the semifinals in 40 seconds and the last coming in the final against Woodbridge’s Jaden Catalano in 1:08.

Alex Amato avenged a loss in the 113 final a year ago with a win over Gov. Livingston’s Gregory Friedenber in the 138 final.