When they were younger, it was a familiar sight when the Spadafora brothers -- Jon, James and Phil -- ran out onto a wrestling mat. After years of competing for various clubs, the three again are wrestling together -- for the Half Hollow Hills East varsity.
Eighth-grader Jon and sophomores James and Phil opened the Thunderbirds' League III match with Smithtown East (2-2) with three consecutive victories, setting the tone for Hills East's 37-30 victory Wednesday night.
The addition of Jon Spadafora gives Hills East (3-0) a tough top of the lineup.
Jon opened the match at 99 pounds with a 14-0 major decision of Chris Wolf. James followed at 106 with a technical fall of Josh Klein-Valente in 4:00, and Phil capped the Spadafora run with a 5-3 decision at 113 over the tough James Trezza. Phil defeated Trezza at the County tournament last season.
"I think it's a great opportunity for Jon to come up and wrestle on the team,'' James said. "He is getting some good experience and he helps set a good pace for all of us. Having all three of us in a row helps set the pace for the rest of the team and helps get a good vibe going.''
The brothers picked up wrestling when Phil and James were in the third grade and Jon was in the first grade. They've been training with each other ever since.
"I go home and I wrestle Phil every day and he helps me get stronger and ready for my matches,'' Jon said. "I feel a lot more confident when I'm out there because I wrestle a lot.''
The Spadaforas got plenty of help from their teammates, and it was Griffin Arcuri's pin in 1:17 over Mike Dixon at 170 that clinched the match for the Thunderbirds.
"We have a bunch of good kids on this team that always work hard in practice,'' Phil Spadafora said. "It's better to have a whole lineup of good kids than just a few better kids because everyone can get us bonus points.''
With more time together to work and added depth, Hills East is looking like a contender in League III.
"The first day of practice I was happy I was in the room wrestling with everyone,'' Jon said. "I was just happy to be a part of the team.''
The only thing better than that would be wrestling for a league champion.