Parents rue missing a single game if their son or daughter is involved in high school athletics. Carl Cincotta sees his son, CJ , compete every day on the mat at North Andover High.
The elder Cincotta is in eighth season as the varsity wrestling coach. For the past three seasons, he has pencilled CJ’s name into his lineup.
The Scarlet Knights finished 15-9 in dual meet competion but CJ enters Saturday’s Division 2 North sectional championship at Danvers High with a sterling 36-1 mark at 152 pounds.
Coaching a child is not new for Cincotta, who previously filled out his lineup card with sons Nick (Class of ‘14) and Stephen (‘15). He has been in CJ’s corner on a mat since age 5.
While most parents would know exactly when and where their child is on the mat, Cincotta said that the idea of coaching his kids has completely lost its novelty.
“It’s just another wrestler,” he said. “I don’t know they’re in there, I forget they’re my kids.
“I treat all the kids the same. Whether they’re the best kid in the room or the worst kid in the room, wherever CJ or any of my kids fall, then that’s where they’re at. All the kids know that and respect that.”
CJ echoed those thoughts.
“I don’t know if it’s more beneficial or less beneficial, but to me it just seems the same,” he said.
“I think of him as a coach, I don’t really see him as a dad in the room.”
His father may not be actively searching him out on the mat in practice, but CJ certainly has earned respect for his presence the room.
Cincotta lauded his 17-year-old son’s maturity, crediting that quality as a big reason for his success.
“He was very mature even as a freshman wrestler [with a 30-10 record at 138 pounds],” Cincotta said. “He was tough at a very tough weight class. Every match he wrestled, he was in all of them.”
“He’s a hard worker, he’s focused, he has goals, and he does what he has to do to achieve them.”
In the Marshfield Holiday Tournament, CJ beat out 22 other grapplers for the title. His lone loss came in the 152-pound final of the John Gorman Invitational in Cumberland, R.I., to Michael Angers (Tolland, Conn.). Two weeks ago, he bumped up a weight class to 160 and beat defending Division 2 champion Blake Hiltz, 9-1, in a dual meet against Tewksbury.
Physically, Cincotta has watched his son change quite a bit from his early days on the mat in kindergarten. As the end of his junior season nears, CJ believes he has grown into a leader as well.
“I’d say I have to step up a little bit sometimes,” CJ said.
“When we’re drilling, me and my partners set the pace, along with Joey Valentino (126 pounds), who’s also always going hard, too.”
As he has grown, so too have his goals.
CJ finished third at the Division 3 state finals in a 42-4 sophomore campaign and placed fourth at the All-State meet.
For starters, he is determined to repeat as D2 North champion.
“Definitely having a higher goal to reach is a huge mental thing,” said CJ, who is 108-15 overall in his high school career.
“It makes me want to push myself harder in every aspect of the sport, and it’s just a huge advantage.”
Cincotta said his son’s dedication to the mat has paid off in the postseason, noting that CJ often wakes early to get to the weight room before school.
“That’s a normal formula for success; you have to do the extra things,” Cincotta said. “He’s always done that, he’s always done the extra work.”
“When you do all of those things in practice and out of the practice room, you put W’s on the board.”
■ The postseason gets underway on Saturday, with 10 sectional tourneys scattered throughout Eastern and Central Massachusetts.
The Division 2 North tournament in Danvers is sure to provide fireworks, with the 106- through 126-pound weight classes boasting strong talent.
The 106-pound field includes Salem sophomore Calvin Dalton , Central Catholic sophomore Mikey Glynn , and Dracut freshman Dante Rossetti . The youth at 113 is also impressive, starting with Danvers freshman Max Leete, Masconomet sophomore Trevor Nugent , and North Andover sophomore Ethan Ford .
■ The team race at the Division 1 North tournament could get interesting. St. John’s Prep boasts some of the top talent in the state across multiple weight classes. Meanwhile, host Methuen will look to continue its roll from the regular season. Chelmsford is aiming for its fourth straight sectional crown. And Shawsheen is not far behind.
Wrestlers of the week
Atman Barille, Brookline — The senior captain was 4-0 at 182 pounds in the Warriors’ duals last Saturday and then earned a pin on senior night on Tuesday.
Nate Chandler, Newton North — The 106-pounder fought off his back and came back for a big pin for the Tigers in their 40-28 win over Brookline.
Adam Lanctot, Foxborough — The junior clinched the Warriors’ win at the Division 3 State Coaches Dual Meet tourney with a victory in the 113-pound final.
Mikey Racca, Franklin — The senior recorded three pins at 145 pounds at the Division 1 State Coaches Dual Meet Tournament, helping to power the Panthers to a 53-13 win over Chelmsford in the final.
Joey Sanchez, Central Catholic — At 145 pounds, the senior picked up three wins on Saturday to help the Raiders win the Division 2 State Coaches Dual Meet tourney.David Austin Bumpus can be reached at email@example.com