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Athletic Highlight: Growing the SJ Wrestling Team

Athletic Highlight: Growing the SJ Wrestling Team

The following article was published in our Spring 2023 Communique. Read the Communique here!


Michael Morales and John Brooks

On January 12, 2022, SJ marked another milestone in our athletic timeline - our first ever wrestling match at home. Thanks to a generous donation, SJ was able to purchase Maroon & Gold wrestling mats and add another sport to our list of 40+.

Wrestling has always been around SJ in some capacity. In 2019, it was simply a club with four boys and no mats on the home turf. That all changed in 2022, when SJ stepped up their game. Armed with our fantastic PE teacher, Mr. James Cook, who was selected to coach the team, a new athletic endeavor was borne. In February 2022, senior Cadets, Joey Sansone and Zach Brzoska both competed in the FCIAC Championship. Joey was the first-place winner for his weight class, while Zach stood on the podium in third place for his.We were earning accolades already.

Fast forward to the 2022-2023 season and we have even more to celebrate. In just one year, the wrestling team has grown 8-fold and includes 33 students - many of whom are underclassmen. We sat down with this year’s  Captains: John Brooks ’23 and Michael Morales ’24 to hear why they believe the team has become so popular.

Mike: Even though the team last year was small, it was filled with students who really who enjoyed the sport and  became passionate about it. They inspired others to join on.

John: I think we’re also fortunate that most of our team are underclassmen, so they see Coach Cook

a lot as their PE teacher. He encourages them to try out and learn more about the sport.

Wrestling 2023

The team has now grown so large that SJ athletes sometimes have to vie against each other for a
spot in the tournaments or meets. Wrestle-offs are common and mean a lot to each competitor.

John: I don’t think everyone realizes how physical wrestling is - even more so than football - the sport I play in the fall. You work every muscle in your body and it is hard. But it’s also rewarding. As a solo sport, you get to decide how well you do.

Mike: Even if you don’t get to wrestle, there is something amazing about cheering on your teammates during their matches. They can hear you pushing them on, and it’s awesome to see them hit that last move or get that pin and you know that they practiced so hard for that.

While the sport is intense, the team also makes sure to keep the student part of “student-athlete” front and center.

John: As Captains, we try our best to keep the team in order. We encourage them to keep their

grades up and we go to the Student Academic Center together. And for the younger students, we’re there to help them any way we can. We asked the Captains about their favorite moments thus far:

Wrestling 2023

John: Mine was at a Trumbull Quad Meet. I beat two competitors and those were my first Varsity wins.

Mike: Mine was actually my second win. I kept losing then winning and going back and forth. But in the end, I came back and won my match.

The Wrestling Team is coached by James Cook, Coach Sean Auten P ’25, and Coach Dimitri Thorton. Combined, the coaches have experience in Wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, Boxing, and Mixed Martial Arts; all of  which they use to inspire our Cadets.

John: The determination you learn in wrestling can be applied to every part of your life. That’s why I love this sport.