BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -  Gov. Livingston senior wrestler Damon Ippolito, seeded third, pinned top-seeded Griffin Keats of Rahway at 1:57 to take the heavy weight crown at the UCT in Union last Saturday. Additionally, Ippolito was named the Outstanding Wrestler in the upper weights.

For winning the Union County Wrestling Heavy Weight Championship and being named Outstanding wrestler in the upper weights, Damon Ippolito is named Valairco Heating & Cooling Highlander Athlete of the Week.

Ippolito had lost to Keats earlier in the season by pin [:47].  "Once I found out I was going against Keats, I was nervous, but I also felt that I knew his style a little since we had wrestled." -- “When it was time for the final I was fired up. I wanted to bring that championship home.”

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"When I won that match, my head was just going everywhere -- I heard a lot of cheering and was just amazed," said Ippolito. "It was an overall crazy experience that was really exciting."

"Damon had a great tournament," said Gov. Livingston head wrestling coach Rick Ortega. "He needs to continue to work hard and build on his performance. If he puts the work in the practice room he will succeed on the mat. Hopefully he will look to finish his career strong and push himself through the post season."

The confidence gained from this huge win along with his continued desire to improve may earn him a trip to Atlantic City.

The following are comments from Damon about his past, present and future:

TAPinto: When and how did you get into wrestling?

Damon: I started wrestling when I was in elementary school but then quit to play basketball and then started again freshman year. 

TAPinto: How have you grown as a wrestler since coming to GLHS and who has had the most influence on you?

Damon: I have grown a lot since the beginning of my freshman year season. Just going to practice everyday and practicing the moves we're being taught really helped improve my skill. 

TAPinto: Who has been your toughest opponent so far?

Damon: The kid [Bardhyl Gashi ] I wrestled from West Essex was the toughest kid I have gone up against this year. 

TAPinto: Most Memorable Match? 

Damon: My most memorable match was definitely my first win in high school. That came freshman year in the last match of the year and the feeling after that win motivated me to come back next year and keep getting better. 

TAPinto: Most Memorable High School Moment? 

Damon: My most memorable high school moment would have to be winning the county tournament. 

TAPinto: What advice would you give to younger wrestlers?

Damon: My advice to younger wrestlers is to never give up on yourself win or lose -- it doesn’t matter -- shake it off and go back to practice looking to improve and get better and then just focus on the next match. 

TAPinto: What are your individual goals for this season?

Damon: My goal for this season is to just do the best I can and see where I end up.

TAPinto: Do you have a pre-match ritual?

Damon: I don’t really have a pre-match ritual, I just try and keep my head clear and stay ready to wrestle. 

TAPinto: What is your go to meal before a match?

Damon: My go to meal before a match is usually a turkey sandwich unless we are at home then I have to go with the grill cheese from the team moms. 

TAPinto: When you're not wrestling what do you like to do?

Damon: When I’m not wrestling I like to hang out with my friends and be active. 

TAPinto: What do you enjoy most about GL?

Damon: What I like most about GL is the environment made by my friends and the teachers and coaches.

TAPinto: What subject and teacher do you like the most?

Damon: This year my favorite subject is math with Mr. Ayers. 

TAPinto: What will you miss the most about GL?

Damon: I will miss hanging out with my friends during class the most 


Valairco Heating & Cooling is the proud sponsor of the Highlander Athlete of the Week. Kevin McHugh, Valairco Owner and President and Berkeley Heights resident, is an alumni of Gov. Livingston High School.

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