Ryan senior pins down historic 100th victory

Archbishop Ryan High School’s Shawn Marchesano celebrates his 100th career victory on Dec. 29. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

For Shawn Marchesano, it’s a lot different than when he first started.

Marchesano first got involved in wrestling when he was a kid and he watched WWE on television. The next logical step was to start wrestling his younger brother, Nick, and the two would beat up on each other.

That wasn’t that long ago, but things have changed a great deal.

Marchesano is still wrestling. But now he’s making history.

Last weekend, Marchesano made history at the Jim Thorpe Tournament when he won his 100th career match in the semifinals of the tournament and in the process became the first wrestler in Archbishop Ryan High School history to hit the century mark. The 132-pounder wasn’t stuck on 100 victories long. He went on to win No. 101 in the championship, and while it’s always special to win a prestigious tournament, it felt even better to win No. 100.

But that doesn’t do anything to change his goal for the season.

“I never came out to win 100 matches or anything like that,” said Marchesano, a senior. “I didn’t even think about it. It’s not something I wanted. I just go out and work as hard as I can.

“My goal is to come out and win a state championship and help us win a Catholic League championship. I didn’t want to win 100 matches, but to accomplish those goals, I have to win matches, right? So it’s great to get it, but it was never what I set out to do.”

During the first three years at Ryan, Marchesano has enjoyed his share of great moments as an individual wrestler. Thus far, his junior year was his best campaign, winning 40 matches and bringing home wins at both the Thorpe tournament and the Upper Merion tournament, where he took home Outstanding Wrestler honors.

But the best time he had was last year when he helped the Raiders advance to the Catholic League championship before falling to Archbishop Wood in a tightly contested championship match.

This year, just as it always has, the team comes first for Marchesano. And just like last year, he and his teammates have a goal of winning a Catholic League championship.

It won’t be easy. Ryan suffered a 42-30 loss to Father Judge in its Catholic League opener, but according to Marchesano, the Raiders have what it takes to beat any team in the league.

“Last year was great, we did it together, we all came together as a team and we went further than a lot of people thought we would,” Marchesano said. “I think, this year, we could do it again. We can beat any team out there if we wrestle as a team. We have a lot of guys on this team who work really hard.”

One of those hard-working wrestlers is his brother, Nick, who wrestles at 113 pounds and brought home Outstanding Wrestler honors at the Jim Thorpe Tournament. Together, the brothers have been making each other better since they were kids. But they work even better together now.

“We’re really close, I’m close with my whole family,” Marchesano said. “My other brothers, Jake and Luke, are younger, but they’re great athletes and they wrestle, too. But me and Nick are always together. We’re at practice together, then after we come home, we lift together, try to get stronger. We both love wrestling so much.”

The lifting has paid dividends for Marchesano, who has gone up a weight class this year. Going up to 132 pounds has been a perfect fit.

“I feel a lot stronger this year, and I’m just as fast,” Marchesano said. “I worked really hard all summer to put on muscle, and it feels better. I still had to cut a little weight, but it wasn’t bad, so I feel stronger. It’s been great, I’m in better shape and I feel stronger.”

The focus remains on wrestling. He hopes to bring home a bunch of hardware this year. His two biggest goals are to win a Catholic League team title and an individual state championship. But he’s starting to look toward the future and he hopes that includes spending more time on the mat. He’s been in contact with colleges, including Sacred Heart, a Division I wrestling program in Fairfield, Connecticut.

“I definitely want to wrestle, and wrestling Division I is a dream,” Marchesano said. “It’s tough, but I think I can do it. Wrestling is all about putting in work. Everything you do in wrestling is a result of how hard you work. And I’ll do anything to make it.”

He gets that dedication from his coaches and teammates, but he also credits his family for his success.

“My parents really support us,” Marchesano said. “My mom was a cheerleader, and my dad played all sports. He grew up in South Philly, so I think we get our toughness from him.

“My whole family is supportive. They all came to Jim Thorpe, even my uncle surprised me. It was great to do it in front of them.”