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Welcome to the inaugural issue of Volume 68 of The Panel! With Volume 67’s edi...read more

Athlete of The Issue: Luca Pontone ‘19

A vital contributor to Belmont Hill’s varsity team since the Third Form, Luca Pontone ‘19 developed a passion for wrestling at an early age. In fact, Luca first began wrestling in kindergarten at the age of five, and he credits his father with his initial introduction to the sport: “My dad was a wrestler at Plymouth State and Reading High School, so he got me into it originally, and then I just really loved it, so I decided to keep doing it.” Indeed, Luca stuck with wrestling for the next thirteen years and is now poised to continue his career at Princeton University next winter.

In addition to early help from his father, Luca has benefited from the guidance of a number of other mentors: “Coach Leo has done a tremendous amount of teaching. He has definitely been one of the greatest influences on my wrestling career. The Harvard coach has also done a great amount for me. He is very knowledgeable and has taught me much.” While coaching and adult leadership have proven invaluable to Luca’s development, his teammates have served as an equally significant resource. One Belmont Hill teammate made a particularly positive impact on Luca: “DJ Demetri was a great influence on me. He showed me quite a bit about school and team spirit. He taught me a lot about how to be a leader as well. I can credit so much of my captaining abilities to him.”

Within the context of the sport itself, Luca knows not every aspect of wrestling is equally exciting, and he identified drilling and cutting weight as particularly difficult: “The thing I enjoy least about wrestling is drilling moves. It can be tedious but it is really necessary. Cutting weight is also never fun. There have been some hungry weeks.” Even so, perseverance through tougher stretches has prepared Luca for tremendous success. When asked about his favorite element of wrestling, his eyes lit up, declaring “Competing has been what I most enjoy about wrestling. I get to wrestle and inflict my will.”

Reflecting on his wrestling career to date, Luca understands that he has endured his share of adversity: “In sophomore year, it was tough when I got a concussion and tore up my shoulder. That was definitely a real low.” Nevertheless, he’s also achieved a number of highlights, earning All-American honors in his junior year, placing third in the nation at 170 pounds. Equally impressive, Luca represented Belmont Hill at the Junior National Freestyle Tournament, the largest high school tournament in the world, finishing an impressive eighth.

As he begins his final season on the Hill and sets his sights on his upcoming Princeton career, Luca strives to balance future goals with a focus on the present, saying, “I’m trying to focus on this year, but to get All-American at some point in my collegiate career would be a goal of mine. It is something all kids aspire to,” and concluding, “To be a Division I  All-American would be perhaps the crowning jewel on my wrestling career,” a feat Mr. Leonardis accomplished during his collegiate career.

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