Danny Colondona doesn’t lose a wrestling match very often, but the few he does just amps up his motivation.
So imagine how the Connetquot senior felt last year after placing third in the Suffolk Tournament.
“Third place is good and all but it wasn’t good enough for me,” said Colondona, who is 15-1 this season after going 39-3 last year. “I’m still working extra hard and I want to be on top this year.”
The extra pushups, laps in the gym and late work at practice has paid major dividends this season, as Colondona, Newsday’s Athlete of the Week, won the 54th Massapequa Holiday Wrestling Tournament at 120 pounds on Dec. 28.
“It’s probably one of the best tournaments in New York State,” Colondona said “It’s such a great honor to win it. I could see all my hard work paying off.”
He also had the experience. Not only is it Colondona’s fourth season as a varsity wrestler but Connetquot coach Bill Santoro let him practice with the varsity as an eighth-grader.
“He’s always focused when he gets out there,” Santoro said. “He’s one of those guys you don’t worry about. You just point him to the mat and he does his thing.”
Along with the Massapequa Tournament victory, Colondona has won the Sayville Tournament. He had pins in 1:07 and 2:51 at the Massapequa meet and decisioned Hunter Scutellaro of the host school, 9-3, in the championship match.
“I just got hungry,” Colondona said. “I realized I wanted to do great and put all the hard work in. All the extra laps, all the extra practices paid off for me.”
This is the season Colondona’s been training for since starting to wrestle in the fourth grade. He was attracted to the sport because it puts all the pressure on the individual. Once stepping on the mat, it’s like being alone on an island. There’s no teammate to bail you out in that moment.
“It’s one-on-one and there’s no other sport like it,” he said. “You can’t blame anyone else for losing. It’s just the one-on-one aspect that I love.”
Santoro also sees how Colondona is leaving a legacy at Connetquot. Colondona’s one of the co-captains and younger wrestlers are always asking for his advice. Colondona is happy to oblige because he remembers being that inexperienced wrestler looking to the upperclassmen for guidance.
He wants to continue to wrestle in college, but he isn’t sure which school yet. He still has time for that as he remains focused on his immediate goals — having his hand raised for a county title.
“It would mean the world to me,” he said. “I worked so hard since I was 8 years old with that goal in mind. There’s nothing I want more than to have a strong county performance.”