CEDAR GROVE, NJ - He’s only a freshman, but one Cedar Grove High School athlete has already made a name for himself on the wrestling mat.

Dominic Tufari has only been wrestling for a little less than two years, but that hasn’t stopped him from proving he is an asset to the Panthers team and a force to be reckoned with in the sport.

Tufari started going to a wrestling club the summer before eighth grade to train and be ready for his first season and discovered his love for the sport. So far the star athlete has received a winning record and plenty of support from friends, family and fans.

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“It’s awesome and it makes me feel great knowing that so many people know about and support me being on the team,” Tufari said. “My favorite thing about wrestling is getting my hand raised on the mat after I win, knowing that all the hard work I put in paid off.”

The young wrestler has earned himself an impressive record with 20 wins and 11 losses this season. He also placed in multiple tournaments, taking home first place in the Lakeland tournament, fifth place at the Essex County Tournament and second place in districts.

“So far my season has gone pretty well,” Tufari said. “I've gotten a lot of good wins and I feel that I improved a lot since the beginning of the season, all thanks to my coaches, teammates, and dad who is always by my side.”

Coach Derrick Goduto said it is Tufari’s dedication that has helped him excel in wrestling.

“He lives the lifestyle of a wrestler on a daily basis,” Goduto said of Tufari. “He is a product of hard work and sacrifice in the off-season, which is why he has had so much success during this past wrestling season.”

Although Tufari has succeeded in many matches, he said the one that stands out the most is the one in which he beat a wrestler from Nutley. The Nutley wrestler beat Tufari in the county tournament 9-2 the week before, giving the Cedar Grove athlete even more motivation to come out on top.

“I spent the next few days getting ready to wrestle him a second time,” Tufari said. “When it was time for our rematch, I ended up beating him 9-5 and it felt amazing to avenge that loss.”

While Tufari has done extremely well in the couple of years he has been training in the sport, he said that lack of experience is his biggest challenge. He started wrestling at 13 years old compared to other wrestlers who started much younger.

Still, Tufari has shown plenty of promise in the sport and plans on making it to states while wrestling at Cedar Grove High School. He even hopes to place within the next few years.

Beyond high school, Tufari said he might wrestle in college but has not gotten that far in making a decision yet. Either way, he is not leaving the sport anytime soon.

“I will stay with the sport and continue to train just because I enjoy being around it so much,” Tufari said. “I also enjoy MMA and boxing, so I might try competing a bit in those areas as well.”