(Photo courtesy Archbishop Roirdan High School)
Archbishop Riordan High School’s wrestling team, under head coach Vittorio Anastasio, earned a trophy in the 2010-11 sectionals – a first for the Crusaders.
Archbishop Riordan wrestlers win first team award at sectionals
March 9th, 2011
Archbishop Riordan High School’s wrestling team has brought home the school’s first ever Central Coast Section team trophy for the sport.
The Crusader wrestlers, ranking 17th in the section, placed fourth out of 86 competing high schools in competition Feb. 25-26. This is the first time a San Francisco Catholic school has earned a team award at the sectional championships.
The 2011 team had a school record of four CCS wrestlers who placed and two finalists.
Two Crusaders – senior Paul Aherne and sophomore Zac Contreras – represented Riordan at the California Interscholastic Federation boys wrestling championships in Bakersfield March 6. Aherne won one match and lost two. Contreras won two and lost two but finished in the top 16 in his weight class out of 40 wrestlers who qualified. That put him in the top 1 percent in the sport across California’s 800 high schools.
In the sectionals, Contreras, trailing 5-8 in a critical match, pinned the top-seeded wrestler in the section. That victory clinched the Crusaders’ fourth-place team trophy.
On the way to his victory, Contreras defeated the No. 3 seed in the quarterfinal round as well as the No. 2 seed in the semifinal match. The No. 3 and No. 2 seeds were the only wrestlers to beat the Crusader sophomore during the regular season, and Contreras had to beat both of them to reach the finals.
Contreras won five matches in a row to become a CCS champion and qualify for the state championships. The only other Riordan sophomore wrestler to win CCS was Adam Cohen in 1979.
Aherne won the CCS second place in his weight class and also earned a trip to the state finals. Seeded No. 5 in the tournament, he beat the No. 4 and No. 1 seeds on his way to the final match.
Senior Mitch Magat won the fifth-place medal and junior Julian Morrisette was sixth-place medalist.
Another milestone for Crusader boys wrestling was head coach Vittorio Anastasio’s recognition with a special Central Coast Section “Steve Sterns Honor with Victory Award.”
Anastasio was recognized at the sectional championships for his years of dedication and success but most important for instilling character-building as the foundation of his program.
After a five-year sabbatical, it was the first time back to the CCS championships for Anastasio, who wrestled for Riordan and graduated in 1984.
In 1984 he was an assistant coach while wrestling locally in college. In 1988 he became head coach, and under his leadership the team has enjoyed sustained popularity and averaged rosters of 50 or more athletes.
Since 1990 Anastasio has been working full-time at Riordan and now heads the Counseling Department. In 2006, he became the father of twins and retired as a coach to focus on raising a family. He jumped back into coaching for the 2009-2010 season and quickly revived the program by increasing participation and success.
Days before the 2010 CCS championship Anastasio experienced a sudden cardiac death episode and had to be revived through defibrillation. It was discovered that he has a rare genetic disease called Brugada, which is known to be fatal to healthy people between the ages of 35 and 50. He now has a defibrillator implanted in his chest that shocks him when he experiences a sudden cardiac death episode.
“I was advised to not go back to work for awhile and not to coach by one doctor, and another doctor said go for it,” Anastasio told Catholic San Francisco. “Over time I’ve been physically rebounding and mentally I’m coming back.”
During the CCS tournament, the excitement level was so high that Anastasio’s assistant coaches ran up to him out of concern for his health. Anastasio decided to stay in the moment: “I was a little worried but I thought, if I get shocked, I get shocked – it’s worth it.”
From March 11, 2011 issue of Catholic San Francisco.