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Springfield's Longo Wrestles to Third Place

SPRINGFIELD, MA. -- Derrick Longo walked off the mat following his semi-final loss at the Ithaca College Wrestling Invitational and immediately moved on.The Springfield College junior and starting 174-pounder had two more matches to wrestle and Longo did not want to lose again.Longo, an Ardsley graduate, two-time Section 1 champion and state place finisher, rebounded to win his next two matches and place third. It was the opening tournament for Springfield.Longo finished with a 5-1 record, including pins in his first two matches.Fox Lane graduate and fellow junior Joey Grippi finished fourth in the 141-pound weight class. Younger brother and freshman Peter Grippi went 3-2, but injury-defaulted to his older brother in his last match.“I felt good and I felt I wrestled well, but there is still a lot of room for improvement,” said Longo, a criminal justice major. “I was seeded first and in the semis I just got stuck in a move.”Longo was angry, but realized he had to refocus. He also had to set a good example, as a captain, for his teammates.“There was never any doubt in my mind that I was going to finish third,” Longo said. “My family, including my younger brother, Drew, drove four hours to see me wrestle. And my teammates depend on me to win. Even if you don’t accomplish your main goal, you can still accomplish something.”It is always difficult on a wrestler when he gets beaten in the semifinals, just one step from wrestling for a title. This tests a wrestler’s character as to whether or not he wants to finish third or be content with finishing no lower than sixth.What made Longo’s road back to third place even more difficult was his consolation semi-final opponent -- teammate Nick Fish. Longo said there is nothing worse than having to wrestle your teammate. He came away with a 4-1 win, then won by injury default over Colin Lenhardt of Johnson and Wales. Last year, Longo beat Lenhardt in a match.“I was pleased with my chain wrestling, my intensity and I felt very confident, but not cocky, on the mat,” Longo said.Longo will stay at 174 for the next two weeks before dropping back to the starting 165-pound weight class.

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