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Grappler Gold

Catching Up With ... 3x State Champ Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield

By BV, 06/28/17, 5:30PM EDT


Photo by BV

Last summer, Penfield’s Frankie Gissendanner captured the 152 pound Cadet Freestyle National championship at Fargo, North Dakota.

During that run, he recorded two pins in less than 35 seconds, and outscored his other three opponents 31-6.

“It was a little different - the travel, the college atmosphere, the big stage and lights,” Gissendanner said. “It was pretty cool. It felt like, wow, it’s something I’ve never really been through before.”

That’s saying something, since Gissendanner has racked up numerous gold medals over the years. In fact, as a junior he picked up his third straight New York state title and his fifth Section 5 crown. 

“Winning [the state] this year felt just as good as the first title,” he said. “I just want to get the job done every year.”

He got the job done once again, going 46-1 at 145 and 152 pounds, with his only setback in overtime against the nation’s top-ranked wrestler, Penn State-bound Jarod Verkleeren at the tough Powerade tournament in Pennsylvania.

“The spotlight was on Penfield, since we were the first team from New York to be there,” Gissendanner said. “Honestly, after my match [with Verkleeren], I knew I could compete with anybody in the country.”

National writers agreed, as he was named to the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Wrestling Second Team (in USA Today) at 145 pounds.  He compiled plenty of other honors, including the All Greater Rochester Male Athlete of the Year. 

Gissendanner said he won’t be competing at Fargo next month, however, his summer is sure to be busy.  

July 1, the first official day of Class of 2018 recruiting, is fast approaching and Gissendanner is a top target for many programs. 

The Penfield star said he expects to be a 149 pounder in college and has been in contact with a number of schools, including Ohio State, NC State, Cornell, Binghamton, Maryland, North Carolina, Rutgers and Edinboro.

“I have some colleges coming in to visit me,” he said. “Right now they all sound good. I’m undecided right now. I’ll probably make my decision after the wrestling season.”

Gissendanner has been a multi-sport athlete for the Patriots, but said he will not compete in football and lacrosse as a senior.  

“It was a tough decision, but I’ll be taking my official visits in the fall, so I won’t be able to play football,” he said. “I’ll be focusing on wrestling.” 

However, wrestling won’t be the only sport he participates in during his final year of high school.

Years ago, Gissendanner got involved with the school’s Unified basketball team, which includes students with and without disabilities. 

“In my freshman year, teachers recommended me to help out the kids,” he said. “Unified basketball has been awesome. You can see the same smile on kids faces after making a bucket or winning the game as the smile on my face after winning a state title. It’s been a great experience. You can’t take life for granted.”

Gissendanner looks to make the most of his last campaign, with a chance to join an elite group of four-time state champions in New York.

“I’m blessed and I feel great honestly,” he said. “I’m excited to go for the next titles and then begin the next chapter of my life.”