Photo by BV
In mid March, Matt Seitz took the mat at Bergen Catholic High School, representing Team New York at the Pinning Down Autism All-State duals against New Jersey third placer Sam Cali. His 7-2 victory not only helped his team win the event, but was a springboard for a successful offseason.
“That was a great experience and a great win,” he said. “Coming off a tough loss at states in the blood round, that’s what got everything on track. That win was the start of it, the start of my run to a state title.”
He certainly kept the momentum going just a few weeks later when he traveled to Virginia Beach for the NHSCA Junior Nationals. Seitz went 7-1 with a pair of pins and earned All-American honors with a third place finish in a bracket of more than 100 wrestlers at 126 pounds.
“I felt like I really wrestled great there,” Seitz said. “I lost to Alex Mackall [of Ohio] in the semis in overtime. He was ranked pretty high in the country and it was a great match. That was a really good tournament for me.”
Seitz continued to compete, capturing the NYS Freestyle championship at 132 pounds and winning a pair of matches at Fargo in that style, including over New Jersey state placer Owen McClave. One of his coaches at that event was the University at Buffalo’s John Stutzman.
The two will be spending more time together in the future, as Seitz gave a verbal commitment to the Bulls on his campus visit over the weekend. He projects as a 133 or 141 pounder.
“I really like Coach Stutzman - I saw him run practices and I think I’ll fit well into the program,” Seitz said. “I really liked the campus. They have a really good PT program and that’s what I want to do. I just thought the work ethic and the environment there are really good for me. It’s a bunch of really hard workers. And I have a lot of friends on the team - I know a lot of the guys.”
Indeed, Seitz said his connections to the program are strong. Two of his former Monsignor Farrell teammates, Ralph Maio and Rrok Ndokaj, and are on the squad as are a number of others he knows like Nate Rose and Addrian Ferrarie from New York City and fellow Apex Wrestling Club members Matt Rose and Jason Estevez.
In addition, Farrell coaches Rob Pavis (wrestled with Stutzman) and Kevin Hartnett (competed for Stutzman at Bloomsburg) have ties to the Buffalo leader as well.
“After seeing Buffalo and what the team is about and what the school offers, I couldn’t say no,” Seitz said, adding that his other top schools were Rutgers and Arizona State. “I couldn’t leave without committing.”
Now, his focus shifts back to his final high school season. As a sophomore, Seitz won over 40 matches and featured wins over All-State wrestlers such as Da’mani Burns and Hunter Richard before falling in the finals of the CHSAA tournament.
During his junior campaign, he earned his first bid to the state championships, at 132 pounds, and began with a victory in his debut at the Times Union Center. However, in the quarterfinals, he dropped a tight overtime victory to two-time state finalist Jesse Dellavecchia of East Islip. He bounced back with a win in the consolations before losing just one match short of the podium to Shoreham-Wading River’s James Szymanski.
“I was proud of how I wrestled my junior year, but there are some things I wish were different,” he said. “I wish I had gone 126 pounds. I put too much pressure on myself. In the blood round, I gave up a first period takedown and got really discouraged. I wasn’t where I needed to be mentally.”
That’s something he addressed right away.
“After the state tournament, I started working with the Zannettis from Wrestling Mindset,” Seitz said. “It really helped and it showed at NHSCAs. I also did a lot more training with Damion Logan from Apex. A lot more positioning from neutral and more top riding. I closed the gap and put it all together. In a way, I peaked at the wrong time - after states. But it’s good to have success after the season.”
That continued with his recent second place showing at the Super 32 qualifier in Pennsylvania. He will compete at the upcoming Journeymen Classic and the Super 32 Challenge in the fall.
“I definitely am looking to place at Super 32 and win the state title. That’s the main thing, winning that state title,” he said, mentioning that he’s thinking about going 126 pounds after barely cutting weight at 132 last season. “I plan to walk away from my high school career with a state title, without a doubt.”
Matt Seitz wanted to thank his father "for always being there to help me." He also wanted to thank coaches Rob Pavis, Kevin Hartnett, Phil Squatrito and Harry Roberts from Monsignor Farrell and Damion Logan, Alex Karnitski and Erik Norgaard from Apex, as well as Wrestling Mindset's Gene Zannetti. He also thanked his family and all his training partners, including Nick Santos and Nick Raimo.