Long after Bob Trombetta is finished wrestling, he will always carry a special label, given him by a man who is not prone to dishing out compliments.
“The kid’s a winner,” Nutley High wrestling coach Frank DiPiano said of Trombetta after his prized 120-pound senior had grappled his last bout at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on March 10 in the NJSIAA championships.
“Simple as that.”
Is Trombetta a winner because he’s Nutley’s all time winningest wrestler? Maybe.
Is he a winner because he’s one of the few in Essex County history to win four straight county championships? Could be.
Is he a winner because he’s just the second wrestler in school history to garner three NJSIAA medals, with the only other to accomplish the feat the marvelous Anthony Montes? Quite possibly.
But DiPiano, who is cut from the mold of his legendary father, Michael Sr., a National Hall of Fame wrestling coach at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, is not known to distribute compliments freely. While very supportive of his program and the young men who devote countless hours to a very difficult craft, the coach knows that ultimate success rests in results, and Trombetta achieved said results in his senior year when it would have been just as easy to hang up the gear back in January.
Trombetta wrestled the last 11 weeks of the season with a torn labrum. The injury requires surgery, but instead of having the procedure done when the injury occurred, he opted to gut through the season. It was clearly obvious that Trombetta favored the arm in matches, but he never backed down.
When he lost a match on the first night of the state championships, (a match he honestly should have won), Trombetta needed to win three times the following day to assure himself that elusive third state medal. A loss in any of those bouts would have eliminated him from a place on the podium and that special walk onto the floor on the final day of competition.
Could he have wrapped it up then? Of course, and no one would have thought any worse of a young man who left it out on the mat his entire career. The injury was too much and the way he had lost on that Friday night, in overtime, would have exasperated most.
But he went out and won all three matches the following day to guarantee that medal, and when he won that third tilt while the state semis were concurrently proceeding around him, a competition he could have easily been a part of, Trombetta gave a proud smile and DiPiano turned to the Nutley contingent in the near sold out venue and gave a victory fist to the cheering crowd.
It’s what makes high school athletics special.
No words were needed. Actions spoke much louder.
The could-have, would-have, should-haves will long be contemplated. Would a healthy Trombetta be a state champion today?
Just ask DiPiano.
“The kid’s a winner.”
End of statement.