EW’s Cuzzetto wins 2nd State title

EW not only brought home its third State champion in four years, but it also placed ninth in the state in team standings
By Pat Ratliff | Feb 21, 2013
Photo by: Karl Swenson / Just a Whim Photography Noah Cussetto raises his hands in victory after winning his second Washington State Wrestling Championship

Last year, Edmonds-Woodway sophomore wrestler Noah Cuzzetto won the State Championship in wrestling in the 4A 106-lb. class. To some, that may be a high point in their high school career, but not Noah.

He looks upon the win as just a starting point. On Saturday, Feb. 16, he advanced that point further by winning his second 4A State Wrestling Championship in Tacoma.

The run to that second title began the day after Cuzzetto won his first.

He talked teammate George Johanson into joining him at the J-Robinson 28-day intensive wrestling camp at the University of Minnesota, the hardest, most intensive, and lengthiest camp in the nation.

George was also looking for something to push him to the next level.  The camp is grueling – in the 28-day period you get one-half day off.

Mornings start at 6 a.m., and the wrestlers work out and wrestle until they return to their rooms at 9 p.m. each night. The daily grind made big changes in the two wrestlers.

“George lost 30 pounds and yet looked bigger when he came home,” said Michael Cuzzetto, Noah’s father. “Noah grew three inches and put on 10 pounds of muscle.  They both looked amazing.”

But what they brought home wasn’t just muscle; they returned with a new enthusiasm for wrestling.

That enthusiasm spread to many of the other wrestlers on the EW team, and probably significantly helped the team, under head coach Brian Alfi, win its third Wesco South Championship in four years.

Coach Alfi took 24 wrestlers to districts and seven of them moved on to regionals. Out of the seven, four moved on to the State finals (113 lb. Noah Cuzzetto, 132 lb. Nathan Vulliet, 170 lb. Marq Brown and heavyweight George Johanson.)

During Round 1, Noah, Nathan and Marq all won their first matches, but George fell a few points short, losing his first round.

In Round 2, Noah and George both won, but Nathan and Marq each battled to tough losses.

With his second win, Noah moved into the semi’s, but George, Nathan and Marq all had one more match to continue through the consolation round.

Nathan and George both won, but Marq fell short of victory; his State tournament was over.

“I am sad that I didn’t place my senior year, but I’m very happy that I got this far.” Marq said.

Noah continued to dominate his side of the bracket, winning again to move him into the Saturday night finals.

Nathan and George continued to wrestle throughout the morning and afternoon.  Nathan went 3-1 and George finished 2-2.  Nathan took fifth place and George took seventh.

“It’s always nice to win the last one,” coach Alfi said.  “I’m really proud of George and Nathan to battle back to win medals.

“Both wrestlers showed what hard work in the off season will do for you the following year.

“George going to the intensive camp was impressive, and Nathan Vulliet taking fifth place is unbelievable.

"It just shows what an incredible amount of work he put in and how far he's come."

The stage was now set for Noah to win his second straight State title. His record was 39-1 with his only loss coming to the 2-time Oregon state champion in a tournament in December.

“He has done everything we asked of him,” coach Gus Anaya said.

The finals match pitted Darin Harris of Yelm, last year’s 3A 106 lb. state champion, against Noah, last year’s 4A 106 lb. State champion.

This would be the second time the two had faced each other this year. Noah had edged out Darin a week earlier in the Region 1 finals.

“I had been looking forward to the rematch because people think that I got lucky,” Noah said. “I wanted to prove them all wrong.”

Harris jumped out to a 4-0 lead early in the match. By the end of the first period, Noah was trailing 3-6.

"With wrestling, in high level matches 6-3 is a pretty stout lead," a nervous Alfi said. "And a lot of times with high-level wrestlers, they don't give up a lot of points."

Coach Alfi said if Noah was worried, you couldn't see it on his face. "You never saw a sense of panic. He's got ice water in his veins."

According to Michael Cuzzetto, Noah went to work in the second period with his patent leg ride and then unexpectedly he used a cradle, and Harris was on his back.

The referee slapped the mat to signal a pin.

“There were tears of happiness running down many faces tonight,” Michael Cuzzetto said.

"I think he definitely didn't expect that one because I never did it on him in the previous match," Noah said.

“With Noah, we had told him before the match to just be Noah, and no matter where he was score-wise that he could win,” Alfi said.

With two state titles in hand and only a junior, Noah is already thinking about a third title and his ultimate goal, which is to wrestle in college.

"I want to go up a weight or two," Noah said. "I want to show colleges that I can do it at bigger weights."

EW not only brought home its third State champion in four years, but it also placed ninth in the state in team standings.

“It was a great season, and the future looks bright,” coach Anaya said. “Our four state wrestlers have given our younger wrestlers something to shoot for and have shown where hard work can take you.”

Congratulations go to the entire EWHS Wrestling team on another successful season, and special congratulations to Noah Cuzzetto for winning his second State title.



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