Kirtland Wrestling: Anthony Gencarelli Life-style Adjustments, Dropping 75 Kilos To Attain His School Sports activities Objectives
The status quo didn’t work for the young Anthony Gencarelli.
A multi-athlete, Gencarelli’s weight rose to 270 pounds as a ninth grader in Kirtland.
He was tall, but he was relatively immobile – at least from an athletic perspective – and worse, he was stuck behind high school students on the soccer field and wrestling mat.
A change had to be made.
It has been about two years since Gencarelli decided to change his lifestyle, and because of that decision, he is a shadow of his former self.
Literally and figuratively.
Now, as a junior, Gencarelli will be 75 pounds lighter than two years ago when he hits the mat in the Division III wrestling tournament in Garfield Heights on March 4th.
Gencarelli (23-2) will face Gavin Grier (9-7) of Creston Norwayne in a 195-pound weight class opener.
If Gencarelli finishes in the top four in his weight class this weekend, he’ll qualify for a state tournament he may never have entered – without first purchasing a ticket – if he hadn’t made a major lifestyle change.
“This change in my life is the best thing I’ve ever done,” said Gencarelli. “When I was 270 pounds I hated it. Now I feel like a million dollars.”
Father Tony Gencarelli said with a laugh that a stroll through his family’s home a few years ago was like a scavenger hunt, where, courtesy of his son, he would find candy wrappers and sacks of nibbles here and there.
But as the wrestling season rolled around, Gencarelli wanted to change something when he was behind junior and eventual state qualifier Jeff Kusar in the 285-pound (heavyweight) class.
Gencarelli knew he would play a JV role through his junior year.
Unless he changed something.
The change was drastic.
“I cut out all the sugar,” he said. “I stopped eating all those great Italian dishes – spaghetti, pasta … no more pop. I love Chick-Fil-A. I stopped eating too.”
There was not only a change in diet, but also an increase in activity. He started running and lifting more. Religiously it is more like that.
The weight fell off him as if it were a weight belt that was unbuckled. It dropped to £ 220 before the end of his freshman year.
Gencarelli stayed in this weight class until his junior year when another big change was made in his life.
When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the nation last March, preventing people from going to the gym to work out, Gencarelli’s father built him a gym in the family basement.
“Treadmill, lat-pull machine, squat, bench, punching bag with free weights,” said the older Gencarelli, naming the machines his son has available in the basement. “My son had a goal to achieve. I just did what parents with that attitude would do for their child.”
Another 25 pounds came off.
Combine that with rigorous workouts – and a series of tournaments – with the Titan Wrestling Club (based in Aurora) and Gencarelli was a chiseled 195 pounder he was still a long way from two years ago.
The redesigned Gencarelli ranked nationwide last fall, from Myrtle Beach to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Indiana and Kentucky.
“So much is different,” said Gencarelli. “I feel great. I feel like I could run a marathon.”
That energy level made him so difficult for most of the others in his weight class to handle. In the third phase, Gencarelli’s strength and endurance are critical due to diet and exercise changes.
“He goes and goes and goes,” said Kirtland’s manager Scott Francis. “We tell our children to go 100 percent in the first and second periods and then turn up in the third to see if their opponent can drive at this pace.
“If you got that at 195, not many are going to stay with you for a six minute sprint.”
Gencarelli goes out of his way to thank everyone who helped him on his journey from a troubled 270-pound newbie to the 195-pound wrecking ball he is today. The Kirtland coaching team and teammates, youth coach Dan Cosimi, the directors of the Titan Wrestling Club, Don and Josh Lorence, and his parents Tony and Tina all deserve credit, he says.
But the credit that matters most is the credit he should give himself, say both Francis and Gencarelli Sr.
“It was at 270 and now it’s at 195,” said Francis. “This is not all about wrestling. He hasn’t lost weight. He has adopted a healthy lifestyle, something he can take with him for the rest of his life. It’s not an easy thing.”
As Gencarelli walked down a hallway at Berkshire High School after beating Berkshire’s JJ Perrin in the section championship, he was looking forward to the challenge ahead in the Garfield Heights District.
“Man this is great,” he said. “That’s all I worked for.”
The hike wasn’t easy.
But it was worth it.