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Chris DiIorio honors his brother with wrestling victory for LIU Post

LIU Post grappler Chris Dilorio, left, battles Morris

LIU Post grappler Chris Dilorio, left, battles Morris Lawson of Seton Hill University at 197 pounds during an NCAA Division II wrestling match at LIU Post on Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. Dilorio won by major decision 18-7. Seton Hill won the meet by a score of 22-17. Photo Credit: James Escher

There was no way Chris DiIorio was losing this bout.

DiIorio's brother Paul passed away in December after a two-year battle with cancer. Sunday's matchup between LIU Post and Seton Hill University (Greensburg, Pennsylvania) at Pratt Recreation Center raised funds for Paul's family.

"It was an awesome opportunity to wrestle at home in front of a large crowd who were all there for one major reason, and that was for the support of my family,'' DiIorio said.

Post dropped the match, 22-17, but DiIorio's win at 160, a 20-4 technical fall of Morris Lawson, drew a standing ovation from those in attendance.

"I was definitely trying to win this match for my brother,'' DiIorio said. "Not only this match but every match that I won so far has been for him and my family.''

The event was put together with help from DiIorio's coaches from Post and Sachem East, the high school he attended.

It was just another instance of DiIorio leading by example for a Post squad composed of 17 underclassmen -- including 14 freshmen -- and only four upperclassmen.

"I've always tried to act as a leader no matter what how old I was,'' DiIorio said. "For me to be a senior surrounded by all these freshmen, I try and teach them the little things like working hard day in and day out. Just trying to build their work ethic.

"The guys that we have, the freshmen, they're going to get better. Our team, yeah, we might have lost today, but our team's going to keep getting stronger over the next few years. We're going to be become one of the elite teams in Super Region One. That's where we're headed.''

DiIorio and the rest of his teammates and coaches realize the ascension to prominence will take time. The Pioneers fell to 2-11 with the loss to Seton Hill (5-2), but the team flashed glimpses of the strides it has taken since November.

"At times, it was frustrating at the beginning of the year,'' said assistant coach Ryan Patrovich, the acting head coach in place of his father, Joe, who is on a temporary leave of absence for a medical reason. "There's no such thing as moral victories, but you see such big improvements on certain guys and them getting better every single week because it's such a young team. That's all you can really ask for.''

Freshman Joe Calderone has noticed the development, too.

"In the beginning, it was a little bit slower,'' he said. "Practices were a little less intense. But as time has gone on, it's started to really pick up. Guys are starting to win matches now. Everybody's starting to get more confident.''

Calderone put forth one of his most impressive performances of the season against Collin Dees, a 10-0 major decision at 133.

"I'm starting to find my rhythm on my feet,'' he said. "That's where I was lacking and now that I'm starting to pick it up on my feet, I'm starting to feel a lot stronger in my matches.''

At 141, junior Jesse Meaney earned a 2-0 decision over Pat Owens. At 285, freshman James Louison concluded the afternoon with a pin of Alex Soutiere in 1:50.

"We're trending upward,'' Patrovich said. "We gave a great performance in a win against American International College [on Saturday]. And we lost another tight match again against a very good Pennsylvania D-II school today. Overall, I can't say I'm unhappy.

"And today was especially a great moment for Chris, for his family. He's been wrestling lights out. And his leadership and presence for such a young team is really important. We're lucky to have him.''

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