The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 5, 2013

A Bob Ettinger column: Hot dog!

Senior standouts relish the chance to cut the mustard while having fun

For the Star Beacon

SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — For some wrestlers, it’s in their genes to hate to losing. Others simply have it embedded in them through years of shedding blood, sweat and tears on the practice mats.

By the time a grappler completes his or her senior season, they’ve spent the better part of six years — longer in some cases — training to avoid having to watch a competitor get his arm raised.

There are no off days between October and March. There’s no time to relax and simply enjoy rolling around on a mat.

Wrestlers from area schools took the 15th annual Star Beacon-Mike Scully Senior Classic at Lakeside on Monday to do just that.

“Most of us have worked year round in the weight room, in the wrestling room and at camps for the last four years, let alone if we did it in junior high,” Ricker Maple of Jefferson said. “We never get to have fun for even just one match. This is our only chance to relax, have fun and, I guess, express ourselves in a way.

“After four years of working, have fun and not have everything be so serious for once in our careers.”

Conneaut’s Billy Post was in full agreement.

“We get to go out and have fun for once,” he said. “You’ve got to be serious in this sport. If you don’t work hard, you’re opponent will be working harder and will go out and lay a whoopin’ on you.

“It was nice to relax, basically play around and not take it seriously.”

In an event that featured a wrestler in fishnet stockings, an elbow drop and a match between a 106-pound mighty mite and a 220-pound ogre, Maple managed to “win” two matches.

“I didn’t rig it,” Maple joked. “We were just all out here having fun. It wasn’t about competing for points. We were just showing some fun moves and whoever had the most points at the end, got the victory. I was just lucky enough to have more points in two matches.”

Rocky Tripodi and Blake Perry, Maple’s Jefferson teammates, may have made the fashion statement of the night.

After checking in at the scorer’s table before their bout, stared each other down. Then, in a scene straight from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” each reached down and dramatically ripped off their tear-away pants.

Immediately, all eyes were drawn to Perry’s legs as he was wearing a pair of florescent yellow and black striped leggings.

“I thought it would be funny,” Perry said.

Tripodi opted for fishnet stockings.

“They bring out the inner wrestler in me,” he said.

It was hard to determine which was scarier, the fact that the two young men opted for hosiery, or where they got it from.

“They’re my sister, Mya’s,” Perry said. “(If she didn’t know I had them,) she does now.”

Tripodi opted to stop and purchase his own undergarment.

“I got them at Rite-Aid,” he said.

There was a reason the pair requested to compete against one another.

“It would’ve been very awkward (to wrestler somebody else),” Tripodi said.

They may have enjoyed their clothing a little too much.

“Maybe I’ll wear them around the house,” Tripodi said.

“Yeah, (I’ll wear them again),” Perry added. “I like them.”

And that may be the mentality that would have scared the other competitors, at least a little.

“I thought it was pretty humorous,” Post said. “It was something of a change for this sport. We had a good laugh.

“I would’ve wrestled them. I would not have been 100-percent comfortable with it, but it would have been fun.”

Tripodi used a WWE-style elbow drop to get the pin of Perry.

“That was devastating,” Perry said. “That was it, man.”

Needless to say, the match was a hit with fans, who giggled throughout.

In keeping with the idea the event was about letting loose, another pair of teammates squared off two matches later. The diminutive Alesha Zappitella took on fellow Spartan Post, at Post’s request.

“I thought it would be something funny and cool,” Post said. “We’re the bookends. We’ve been wrestling on the same team for five years. She’s the smallest and I’m the biggest on the team. I thought it would be cool to wrestle her in a fun match.”

There may have been a bit more to it, though. Post may have been looking out for Zappitella, who was more than 25 pounds lighter than any of the other competitors and would not have had a match.

“It meant a lot to actually wrestle somebody,” Zappitella said. “Neither Billy nor I would’ve had a match.”

“I am kinda her big brother,” Post said. “We’ve got to look out for each other on and off the mat.”

While the two tangled, Post resembled a big brother tumbling around with his much younger kid sister. At times, it looked as if he were handling a porcelain doll.

“The only person (on the team) like that is Billy,” Zappitella said. “They’re rough with me, but when it comes to other people, they’ll protect me.

“Through five years of wrestling together, (Billy and I have) become close friends and teammates.”

It was that last sentiment that maybe says it all.

“For my last high school match, it was nice to wrestle somebody I care about...,” Zappitella said, before correcting herself in an effort to sound less sentimental. “It was nice to wrestle somebody I know and can have fun with.”  

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula. Reach him at