By David Fong
KETTERING — Joseph Pascale is facing a tough road to the state wrestling championships.
But if there’s anyone who knows about beating the odds and overcoming adversity, it’s Pascale.
“Right now, he’s got to get his mind reset,” Troy wrestling Doug Curnes said. “If he can do that, he’s got a shot.”
The Troy wrestling team’s 126-pound senior won his first match at the Division I district tournament at Trent Arena Friday, pinning Lakota East’s Joseph Sirigano in just 50 seconds. In his quarterfinal match, however, he dropped a 7-0 decision to Mason’s Dylan Waugh.
A win would have put him in today’s semifinals, meaning he’d need just one win in his next two matches to earn a trip to state. Instead, he’ll need three wins in a row to place in the top four at districts and earn that elusive state berth.
“He’s going to face a heck of a road,” Curnes said. “But he’s up to the challenge. It was going to be a heck of a road for him even if he won, because the kid he was going to face in the semifinals is a stud.”
Just getting to districts this season has been a long and winding road for Pascale the past four years.
He qualified for districts as a freshman, missing out on a trip to state by one match before eventually placing sixth. The next two years, Pascale got off to quick starts, but ultimately saw both his sophomore and junior seasons derailed by injuries. He suffered a knee injury as a sophomore and a serious eye injury as a junior, both of which were season-ending.
He’s been wrestling well all year; Friday’s loss to Waugh was just his fourth the entire season. He’ll open wrestling today against Fairmont senior Michael Maas. Three wins today will earn him a trip to state; one less will end his wrestling career at Troy.
“I can’t put into words how proud I am for him just to be here,” Curnes said. “A lot of other kids who suffered the kind of injuries he suffered would have just quit. Not him. He just kept fighting. Pick any adjective you want for him — it probably wouldn’t do him justice. He’s a fighter. Now he’s got to come out and fight again (Saturday).”
Pascale was joined at districts by teammate Mitchell Francis, a sophomore at 113 pounds. In his first match, Francis lost a 9-1 major decision to Edgewood’s Olathe Siegel. In his second match, he was down 5-0 early to Princeton’s Josue Dawson, battled back to cut the lead to 7-5 late in the third period, but suffered a late takedown for the 9-5 loss, which brought an end to his season.
“To say this is a valuable experience for him would be an understatement,” Curnes said. “This was great for him. Not just because he came down here and competed. Not just because he was in a dogfight. But because he was down 5-0 and a lot of kids would have quit, but he battled back. This is a great experience he can build on for next year.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong.
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