NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ — Gavin Tripicchio singled out a loss, rather than a victory, as the most memorable match of his high school wrestling career at New Providence.

"My most memorable match wasn’t a win, it was a heartbreaking loss," said Tripicchio, now a senior who wrestles at 182 pounds for the Pioneers' program. "It was my sophomore year, and at that point I had not yet won a varsity match in my entire career. I don’t remember the team or even the score, but I remember it was the closest I’ve ever gotten to a varsity win, only to lose in overtime. 

"I walked off that mat balling my eyes out, and that’s when I shifted gears. Not only was I sick of losing, that match gave me the slightest bit of hope and an even smaller taste of victory, that I decided then and there I wanted to be the best and I wanted to be a winner."

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Tripicchio has been doing a lot of winning since then. This season, he is 6-2 on the mat for New Providence. In his first two matches of April, Tripicchio pinned a wrestler for Arthur L. Johnson High School in 4:00, then followed that with a pin of a Columbia H.S. wrestler in 4:49.

Tripicchio is the TAPinto New Providence Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors Pioneer Athlete of the Week.

"Gavin has had a good senior year. I think it’s a combination of him moving up in weight and him just being motivated due to the circumstances around this season," New Providence wrestling coach Shane Mallory said. "I think there are many juniors and especially seniors that were dejected about the postseason was designed this year. Gavin has kept a positive attitude all season and has never been discouraged.  

"On top of that," Mallory added, "he’s been a great leader to all our younger wrestlers, which is a role that he’s continued to grow into over the four years I’ve been coaching him.  He’s wrestled a very solid and smart year so far, with a renewed focus on his top wrestling and improved on his feet as well. He’s been competitive in every match that he’s participated in this year, and even in the losses he was 1-2 moves away from winning."

Tripicchio answered a few questions for TAPinto New Providence this week.

Q: Have you seen your performances improve since last season? 
A: Definitely! Hard work, commitment, and discipline I put into this sport and it gave me victory in return.

Q: What has been the best advice you have received from a coach?
A: I used to be nervous at tournaments, then I was told to take the energy and excitement of the whole thing onto the mat and wrestle with it instead of my nervousness. Just being told to get out of my head and just to wrestle helped me so much.

Q: What do you like most about New Providence High School?
A: I love how small of a team we’ve been the last few years. Yes it’s unfortunate that we can’t win many duels but having such a small team brings us together as a family. We grow as athletes, students, and people, and that’s really what wrestling is about, developing you as a person. Being so close with everyone helped us fight through our wins and losses, I don’t think I’d be where I am without my team beside me.

Q: Do you have a favorite subject? 
A: Lunch, because there’s food. Ironically, I spent most of my lunches running though.

Q: Who is your favorite athlete?
A: Spencer Lee is my favorite college wrestler. He’s the best, he dominates from top like me and he walked through a national tournament with his closest match being 7-0 in the finals.

Q: Do you have a role model?
A: Po from Kung Fu Panda because he can be fat in season.

Q: What do you like to do when you are not playing a sport?
A: Eat. That’s what I enjoy most about not being in season. Eating whatever I want, whenever I want, and how much I want.

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The Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors Pioneer Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors located at 64 Main Street in Chatham.  Joe is an over 25-year New Providence resident who is an active member of the New Providence community. Contact Joe anytime, whether it's to get started on helping you realize your real estate goals and dreams, or just to ask a question about the local market.  Joe can be reached at jeberle@weichert.com or call 908-868-4800