CHATHAM, NJ - Connor Cortese doesn't take no for an answer when it comes to his turn to wrestle. That was the case recently during a Chatham triangular meet when one team forfeited at 120, Cortese's regular weight class.

When the 120-pounder forfeited, Cortese didn't leave the mat, waiting to wrestle the 126-pounder. When that weight class also was forfeited, he took on the 132-pounder and pinned him in 54 seconds. It was his second pin of the meet.

"We wrestle him at 126, we wrestle him at 132," Chatham coach Frank Siclari said. "He takes kids down. We just keep moving him up. It's awesome. He always seems to get a takedown in the first period."

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Connor Cortese is the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week.

As a freshman, Cortese fashioned a 27-9 record, but failed to qualify for the state regional tournament because he finished fourth at the districts. The goal this year is to become the first Chatham wrestler to reach the regionals since 2016.

"We think he's going to make it to the regionals," Siclari said. "He's a tough kid, he works hard all year round. He works really hard in the room every single day. He's really smart and he knows the sport. He has a lot of moves and he's going to be really tough to beat at 120."

Cortese, who opened the season with a 7-1 record, is not resting on his laurels. He believes that there is always room for improvement.

"I'm working on my offense," Cortese said. "I need to finish my shots better and I need to work on more control when I'm on top. There are always things I can improve on."

Cortese enjoys running cross-country for Chatham in the fall, and he likes the stamina it gives him on the wrestling mat as well.

"He runs cross-country, so he has really good lungs," Siclari said. "He's always ready to go six minutes and push the pace to get a takedown. He's aggressive.

"He's a sophomore, but he's seen a whole lot of success. The other kids definitely look up to his work ethic. He's nobody's favorite kid to wrestle in the room. It doesn't matter if it's our 182-pounder or 106-pounder, he's coming after them. He's a strong kid and he's scoring points on everybody."

Aside from the obvious disadvantage that comes with wrestling up a weight class occasionally, it could hurt the 16-year-old when it comes to seeding for the districts at 120 because he might have fewer wins. Cortese isn't complaining.

"I'm happy to wrestle whoever it is," Cortese said. "'This is my favorite sport. I've been wrestling ever since I was very small and this is what I love to do."

Connor Cortese records a pin in a recent home wrestling match

Editor's note: The Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week is sponsored by the John Hawk Agency. John and his team have been protecting local families and business owners for over 12 years. Call them at  973-635-9494 for a new auto, home, life and business insurance quote this week and if you mention the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week they will make a $20 contribution to the Chatham Booster Club! To learn more, visit the agency website