Fricano working his way back into shape
Updated: February 4, 2013 6:39AM
Whether he’s taking his undersized body into battle against a 250-pound lineman, or taking on wrestlers that weigh roughly 10 pounds more than he does, Niles North senior Danny Fricano embraces the opportunity.
“I’m not that big, but I can hit,” Fricano said, “and I love a challenge.”
Fricano is a football player by trade. He was named the CSL North’s defensive player of the year as a senior and he intends to play football in college.
He’s also back in Niles North’s wrestling room after taking a year off from the sport as a junior in order to focus on his grades and on gaining muscle for football.
But once his senior football season ended, Fricano decided to resume his wrestling career.
“It just hit me one day that I really missed the competition of wrestling,” Fricano said. “Besides, just going home after school would have been too boring and it’s my senior year, so I figured, why not?”
Niles North wrestling coach Chris Albandia was happy to see Fricano walk through the practice room door.
“He’s a tough-as-nails kid to begin with and he’s very athletic,” Albandia said. “He’s very competitive and one of the reasons he’s been able to come back after missing a year is his spirit to compete.”
Fricano had to get back into wrestling shape, though.
“Wrestling is one of the hardest sports in terms of stamina and strength,” Fricano said. “If you can handle wrestling, you can probably handle anything and I’m still getting my conditioning back.”
Through his first eight matches this year, conditioning was no problem as Fricano quickly pinned his way to eight wins. He did so while wrestling at 195 pounds, despite only weighing roughly 185, having naturally shed about five pounds since football.
“Guys at 195 are bigger and obviously have more size, but they don’t feel any stronger, and I’ve been able to use my quickness against them,” Fricano said. “I’m 11-2 right now and in the matches I’ve lost, my cardio wasn’t there and it hurt me. But I’m getting it back.”
Albandia, assistant coach Ryan Lindberg, and 170-pound senior Eric Berkovich are helping Fricano get back into shape in the practice room. The 6-foot Fricano may remain an undersized 195-pounder this year and his ability to handle the challenge hasn’t surprised his coach.
“He has very good kinesthetic awareness on the mat and he’s phenomenally athletic,” Albandia said. “He was warming up ... and he was in his stance, simulating wrestling underneath a basketball rim. Then he just jumped up and grabbed the rim. So he has those physical tools and intangibles that you really can’t coach.
“He’s a really good kid, a hard worker, and even though he’s a really quiet guy, he inspires the other guys in the room. I’m glad to have him back.”