Athlete of the Week: Nick Gavazzi, Charleroi
Name: Nick Gavazzi
Weight: 145 pounds
Gavazzi’s week: Gavazzi started the scholastic wrestling season with four consecutive victories that gave the talented athlete his second consecutive gold medal in the Chartiers-Houston Wrestling Tournament. Gavazzi opened the tournament with a 16-1 technical fall over Regan Smith of Chartiers Valley and followed it with another technical fall, this one 18-3 over Steve Morgan of Elizabeth Forward. In the semifinals, Gavazzi won an 11-1 major decision over Taylor Wentzel of South Park, then capped the tournament with a 14-5 major decision over Nick Kusich of Avella for the first-place trophy at 145 pounds.
Transition: Many things have changed for Gavazzi since last season. His two good friends and teammates – Aaron Toth and Josh Kwasny – graduated, leaving Gavazzi without two outstanding workout partners. Gavazzi is now the grizzled veteran on this young Cougars’ team. In last year’s Chartiers-Houston Tournament, Toth and Gavazzi won titles and Kwasny took third.
“You make the best of what you got,” said Gavazzi. “I just try to improve every day.”
Helping him do that is a new head coach, Chad Alexis, who was elevated from assistant to head coach this year after Dave Nelson resigned after last season.
“I treat every match the same,” he said. I go hard every time.”
That produced a WPIAL championship at 138 pounds last year. But a fifth-place finish in the regional tournament in Johnstown put him against Austin Mathews of Reynolds, a Northwest champion, in the first round of the PIAA tournament. He lost a 13-1 major decision.
Motivation: Gavazzi has a picture of his most disappointing loss of the season, the one to Brock Zacherl of Brookville, 2-1 in ultimate tiebreaker, that ended his season.
“It was a heartbreaker at the end,” Gavazzi said. “I work 10 times harder because of it. I have a picture of me when I lost hanging in my basement, and it gives me fire. I look at it when I get tired, and it keeps me going.”
Gavazzi is taking on more of a leader’s role in the practice room. He is the most experienced of the 13 wrestlers in the room, and he tries to help them along.
“We have a couple new guys,” he said. “We have to start out from scratch. They’re trying. I have to step up and set an example.”
– Compiled by Joe Tuscano