Justin Colon still looks like he can be in high school, but it’s been seven years since he attended Belleville High, and he’s accomplished a lot during that span.
Colon, Belleville High’s all-time winningest wrestler, with 163 victories from 2008-2012, was the last Buccaneers wrestler to qualify for the NJSIAA Tournament, when he won a state medal at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, after capturing the Region 4 championship a week earlier and being named the Outstanding Wrestler in the region, in 2012, at 126 pounds.
Justin was back at Belleville High to meet Alisa and David before a practice session, on Feb. 26. (Click on photo for larger image)
Colon qualified for the states in all four of his high school seasons. He won three Region 4 titles during his career, as well as one state medal, and to this day, is still among the top six wrestlers in the state, all time, with victories, trailing Andrew Campolattano (175), Anthony Ashnault (170), Quinn Kinner (169), Michael O’Malley (168) and Frank Cagnina and Joe Heilmann (164).
Justin’s older brother, Filiberto Colon also had a tremendous career at BHS, from 2004-2008, winning 156 matches, as well as three state medals, four county and district titles and one region championship. Like Justin, Filiberto qualified for the states for four straight years.
Justin, along with Belleville High head coach Joe Pizzi, as well as Alisa and David, at the Belleville High School gym. (Click on photo for larger image)
Justin Colon returned to his high school alma mater on Feb. 26, to say hello to the first two Belleville wrestlers to qualify for the state tournament since he did it seven years ago. David Guerra finished second at Region 3, on Feb. 23 and Alisa Safforld will compete at the states in the first year of wrestling for females, as she finished second in her weight class at the regions on Feb. 17.
“Be proud,” said Justin, as Guerra, a junior and Safforld, a sophomore, listened intently “You’re here because of your work ethic and some tremendous coaching. It’s not easy to get to Atlantic City, much less get a medal. But you’re there, and it’s because you wanted it.”
The three chat a little, before practice began. (Click on photo for larger image)
Having qualified in all four years of high school for the states, which is quite an accomplishment in itself, Justin knows what it’s like to be under those bright lights at Boardwalk Hall, especially for the first time.
“It’s different,” recalled Colon, the son of Tina and Filiberto Colon. “But if you go there with one single focus, and lock in to what you want to accomplish, you can be on that (medal winning) podium. “It meant a lot to me when I won my medal. I remember really wanting to break through. And I know Alisa and David can do it. I had some great coaches when I was here and Alisa and David do, too. They’re the leaders of this program now.”
Seven years ago, Justin’s outstanding wrestling career at Belleville High was recognized at a Board of Education meeting. It was nice to share in that ceremony. (Click on photo for larger image)
Belleville head coach Joe Pizzi was proud to have Justin return to speak to Safforld and Guerra.
“Justin is class,” said Pizzi. “He comes from a great family and did really well here. I think our kids realize what a great wrestler he was.”
Colon had an excellent collegiate career, at Johnson & Wales University. He was 59-30, with 17 pins, 91 takedowns, 80 reversals and 49 escapes.
“I still enjoy the sport,” said Colon. “I’ve stayed in pretty good shape since college. Wrestling is a great sport.”
Colon noted the tremendous strides Safforld and Guerra have made.
“I started wrestling in the recreation program in town in Kindergarten,” said Colon. “David and Alisa didn’t start wrestling until their freshman year of college. And now, they’re heading to the states. That’s incredible.”
Safforld and Guerra took a few minutes to talk about some of their favorite moves with Colon.
“I’m going to be rooting hard for those two in A.C. this weekend,” said Colon. “They are really nice kids. My parents raised my siblings and I to be respectful to others and I can see where David and Alisa also are respectful. But like my brothers and sisters, David and Alisa are competitors, too, and that’s why they’ve gotten this far.”