East/West Xtra: Some big decisions are on horizon for Central Catholic wrestler

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Vincenzo Joseph has two things on his mind as he proceeds through summer vacation.

Joseph, who recently completed his junior year at Central Catholic High School, is contemplating his future.

"I want to wrestle at Fargo again," said Joseph, referring to the USA Wrestling National Championships, which take place at North Dakota State University in Fargo. "I couldn't make it to the qualifying tournament because I had finals the following week.

"I've petitioned to Van Plocus [chairman of the Pennsylvania Amateur Wrestling Federation] to join the Pennsylvania Team. I'm hoping to find out by the end of the week."

Joseph, who lives in the Oakwood section of the city, is coming off his most successful season of high school wrestling. He won the WPIAL Class AAA title at 138 pounds after a pair of runner-up finishes, then claimed the PIAA title.

"It was a very memorable season to finally win WPIAL and PIAA titles," Joseph said. "But I can't rest on my laurels. I want to repeat in both tournaments and that's never easy. They always say that repeating is harder than winning the first one. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Joseph would like to compete at 138 or 145 at the Junior National Tournament, if his petition is accepted by the PAWF.

"I went to Fargo the past two summers," Joseph said. "I competed in the Cadet Tournament two years ago and placed second in the country in Greco-Roman and fifth in freestyle. Last year, I moved up to the Junior Division and placed seventh in the freestyle tournament."

Joseph decided to skip the Greco-Roman tournament last year.

"It's too physically demanding to wrestle in both tournaments," Joseph said. "If you do well, you'll have 20 matches in seven days. I was tired and beat up by the time I got done with the Greco tournament."

The USA Wrestling National Championships will take place from July 18-26.

"I've been training every day to get ready for Fargo," Joseph said. "I feel guilty if I don't do something every day. I've been running and lifting, and working out with the Young Guns Wrestling Club."

Joseph is attending a Young Guns Travel Camp this week at Blairsville High School.

The other thing on Joseph's mind is recruiting. He faces the important task of finding a college that will meet his athletic and academic needs.

"I'm not really sure what I want to do," said Joseph, who will have his choice of numerous scholarship offers. "I'm looking for a college that is known for both its academics and wrestling."

College coaches are not allowed to talk with wrestlers until July 1, but Joseph has made several unofficial visits to schools that meet his criteria.

"I've had unofficial visits to the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Cornell, North Carolina, Penn State and Lehigh," Joseph said. "I'm also interested in Princeton and Ohio State."

Joseph would like to make a decision by the end of the summer.

"All the college coaches will be at Fargo," Joseph said. "My goal is to win a national title. I want to show the coaches what I can do at the national level."

Joseph was happy to hear that the PIAA has expanded its state brackets to 20 individuals. That means the WPIAL will have four wrestlers qualify at each weight in Class AAA.

"My teammate, Tony Palumbo, fell a couple points short of qualifying last year," said Joseph, referring to Palumbo's fourth-place finish at 145. "I'm glad to see that the WPIAL is getting a fourth qualifier. I just wish it could have happened a year earlier so Tony could have gone to Hershey."

Joseph, a three-time PIAA place-winner, takes a 105-20 record into his senior year.

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