Bishop Ryan wrestler grapples more than opponents

A sentimental favourite emerged at the 2014 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association wrestling championships.

It was 18-year-old Anthony Italiano of the host Bishop Ryan Celtics.

BR's Anthony Italiano took his first step towards qualifying for this year’s OFSAA, by defeating Mason Brown of Cathedral in a 72-kg match.  (Photo: Gerry Graham/HWCDSB)

BR’s Anthony Italiano took his first step towards qualifying for this year’s OFSAA, by defeating Mason Brown of Cathedral in a 72-kg match. (Photo: Gerry Graham/HWCDSB)

While the annual city high school wrestling tournament for boys and girls was under way at the new BR site for the first time on Thursday (Feb. 13), students and staff at Ancaster’s Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School were conducting a toonie drive for Italiano’s ailing father, Frank.

Frank has been fighting an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the past five years. Anthony’s mother, Marlow, explains that there is a promising new cancer drug doctors are recommending he try but it isn’t yet covered by OHIP. He will need a minimum of eight treatments at a cost of $16,000 per treatment.

Frank, a father of three, previously went through six rounds of chemotherapy and received a stem-cell transplant. He was recently forced to close the business — Westside Auto Collision – where he and Marlow both worked.

Since January, it’s been a team effort by everyone at Bishop Ryan to help raise the needed funds for the treatments. Events have included a civies day plus the sale of water bottles and Team Italiano T-shirts. The wrestling team is going to be pitching in, too, by bagging groceries for tips on Feb. 22 at the Fortinos Fiesta Mall location.

The first concert in the 600-seat Bishop Ryan auditorium – with past and present BR students performing – is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. The cost is $10 and all proceeds go to the Italiano family.

“The community has banded together to help out Anthony’s family and give Frank a chance,” Bishop Ryan wrestling coach Sheldon Francis said.

Anthony won a bronze medal in the 67.5-kilogram division at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations tournament in Guelph last year. He took his first step towards qualifying for this year’s OFSAA by defeating Mason Brown of Cathedral in a 72-kg match. Qualifying continues Thursday, Feb. 20 when the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference championships are held at Bishop Ryan.

“It’s really nice,” Anthony Italiano said of the community support. “People who don’t even know us, care about us. They are very kind. Everyone is trying to help.”

Italiano says the mental strain of his family situation has made it somewhat difficult to wrestle. He still faithfully attends after-school practices, however.

“Some days you might be down and not in the mood to do anything, really,” he said. “I couldn’t go to a wrestling camp during the Christmas break in Ohio just because of the way things were going. I didn’t want to be away for long in case something were to happen.”

On the other hand, Italiano says, the routine of wrestling practice serves as a pleasant “distraction.”

“It might be the things going on at home, but last year I felt better as a wrestler … more calm. I feel more tight and on edge now. Hopefully, I can get rid of those feelings.”

Francis, a former star wrestler at Bishop Ryan and McMaster University, says Italiano is an intelligent, athletic wrestler who leads by example and works to get the most out of each practice.

“He feels a loyalty to the team,” Francis said. “When he comes to be with the team he feels the support and the love. It’s some sort of normalcy in his life.”

Strength is one of Italiano’s strong points.

“His strength-to-weight ratio is incredible,” Francis said. “Some of the kids try to mimic what he does, but they just can’t.”

The Celtics again captured the overall team championship – their 42nd — at the HWCAA finals.

Bishop Ryan’s team title was overshadowed, however, by an injury to their captain, Brad MaGarrey. He dislocated his elbow in the final against teammate Wyatt Dorion. Francis says the fluke injury will probably prevent MaGarrey from competing at GHAC and OFSAA.

The provincial high school finals are March 4-6 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.


Boys Winners

38kg – Chris Tighe, Bishop Ryan. 41kg – Conrex Delcacruz, Bishop Ryan. 44kg – Hussein DaSilva, Cathedral. 47.5kg – Devon Delaharpe, Brebeuf. 51kg – Marcel DeBiase, Brebeuf. 54kg –William D’Alessandro, Bishop Ryan. 57.5kg – Alessandro Muia, Brebeuf. 61kg – Joe Martin, Brebeuf. 64kg – Anthony Ciampaglia, Bishop Ryan; 67.5kg – Max Offel, Brebeuf. 72kg – Anthony Italiano. 77kg – Wyatt Dorion, Bishop Ryan. 83kg – Scott MacLellan, Bishop Ryan. 89kg – Giordan Caruso, Bishop Ryan. 95kg – Steven Collura, Bishop Ryan. 130kg – Stephen Smith, Cathedral.

Boys Team – Bishop Ryan, 132. Brebeuf, 85. Cathedral, 49.

Girls Winners

41 kg – Marissa Welsh, Cathedral. 44kg – Victoria Doan, Brebeuf. 47.5kg – Nicole Mayer, Brebeuf. 51kg – Amy Bellavia, Bishop Tonnos. 54kg – Elisabetta Paiano, Bishop Ryan. 57.5kg – Jessica Kersley, Cathedral. 61kg – Sandra Bay, Brebeuf. 64kg – Alize Spalding-Lawrence, Brebeuf. 67.5kg – Celine Beltrano, Cathedral. 72kg – Ariana Romo, Cathedral. 77kg – Ryleigh Hagan, Cathedral. 83kg – Cassidy Noonan, Brebeuf. 115kg –Tiana Ewan, Cathedral.

Girls Team – Brebeuf, 79. Cathedral, 70. Bishop Ryan, 44. Bishop Tonnos, 10.