Southington wrestler Paul Calo has been close to taking home major championships many times in his brief career.
As a freshman last year he made it to the Class LL finals before losing and he suffered the same fate at this season’s Class LL meet. Even at the State Open, Calo was unable to come out on top in both years
But at the New England Championships this season he finally broke through to get that elusive championship. To make it even sweeter, the sophomore faced off with Xavier’s Ryan Devivo in the finals at New Englands, the same guy that beat him at both Class LL’s and the State Open and exacted some revenge in the process.
“It just felt like a big relief because I have been working so hard and I was so close at both LL’s and the opens,” Calo said. “But I finally pulled it off and it was great.”
After his loss in the Class LL finals, Calo was devastated because he really felt like he would win. The 160-pounder had the lead late in the match but Devivo brought it into overtime where he would eventually go on to beat the Southington wrestler.
That loss and the loss at the State Open did not shake Calo’s confidence one bit though, as he always felt he would win New Englands.
“Every time I wrestled [Devivo] it was so close and the match could have gone either way,” Calo said. “I knew that if I just worked harder in practice the week leading up to New Englands I would have one more chance to beat him.”
“I was hoping that we would get to see that kid again in the finals at New Englands,” head coach Derek Dion said. “Paul had to make a few adjustments of his technique before New Englands and he was able to do that and he did a good job. Every time he lost to that kid it was always really close so it only took a few small adjustments for him to come out on top.”
Calo is now headed down to Virginia Beach this weekend where he will compete in the national tournament against the best high school wrestlers in the country. He has already proven he is one of, if not the, best in New England so now it is time to see how he stacks up nationally.
“From a technical standpoint Paul is as good as anybody,” Dion said. “He’s going to go down there and hopefully represent himself and the school well. He knows that when he wrestles as well as he can, he can compete with almost anybody.”
It is hard to know exactly what to expect going into a huge tournament like this, but Calo is still going in supremely confident and with high expectations.
“I’m hoping to place really well there,” Calo said. “I’ve been working hard and I’m really confident that I could have a great showing this weekend.”
Regardless of what happens at the national tournament it has been an outstanding couple of seasons for the sophomore. Calo has made it to the finals at almost every major tournament he has been in and really doesn’t have much else to prove but that won’t prevent him from putting in more work and trying to add to his accolades.
“I hope that my next two years are two more years of winning,” Calo said. “I want to win the Class LL’s the next two years, the State Open and defend my title at New Englands. I want to keep this thing going and hopefully carry it through to wrestling in college.”
His head coach echoed a similar sentiment.
“I think Paul views all of this as just part of the process,” Dion said. “He still hasn’t won the State Open or the Class LL’s so obviously he has motivation to win those but we look at his whole career as a growth process. I think if he looks at it like he has achieved all of his goals already than he will kind of lose his hunger but if he looks at it like his goal is his growth than he will hopefully stay hungry and succeed on higher levels and I’m confident he will stay hungry.”
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @Bigwoolf5