CROSS RIVER, N.Y. — To this day, Derrick Longo remembers his first New York State Wrestling Camp and remarks made by former college great Terry Brands.
“He told us that we can make a difference in this sport,” said the former Ardsley great and current Springfield College All-American. “That is when I became serious about the sport and began formulating my goals.”
Longo took Brands' words to heart and went on to an outstanding high school career. He was a three-time Section 1 Division II champion and New York State place finisher. Now he has returned to where wrestling became a major part of his life — the ninth annual New York State Wrestling Camp at John Jay Middle School.
Brands was one of the original clinicians. The camp now has former Mahopac and Cornell great Joe Mazzurco and Troy Nickerson, his Cornell teammate, as the guest clinicians. Mazzurco is a three-time Section 1 champion and 1999 New York State titlist. Mazzurco, who finished with 191 varsity wins, was also a state runner-up and third-place finisher. He went on to be a two-time All-American at Cornell. Nickerson, an Iowa State assistant wrestling coach, is a five-time New York State titlist and was also an All-American at Cornell.
Longo spent four years as a young wrestler in the camp and is currently in his third year as a counselor. Along with Brands’ impact, Longo recalled looking up to former Horace Greeley great and Hofstra wrestler Anthony Tortora.
“He worked with me and wrestled with me and I remember him telling me that I could be a very good wrestler,” said Longo, who finished third at 165 pounds in the 2012 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships. “That helped me out with my confidence.”
Longo had worked the camp the previous two years with his former Ardsley teammates and life-long friends Penn Gottfried and Danny Manley. Even though Gottfried and Manley are not working the camp this summer, Longo could not turn it down. His younger brother, Drew, also a three-time Section 1 Division II champ for Ardsley, is also a wrestling counselor at the camp.
“I was not going to miss this opportunity because I love working with and teaching the young kids,” Longo said. “I also like learning from Troy and Joe, as well, because I feel so passionate about wrestling.”
Longo is also enjoying working with his younger brother.
“It’s awesome because Drew and I have always done everything together, especially when it comes to wrestling,” Longo said. “It also makes this that much more fun to teach the kids and to do it with my brother.”