ALBANY, N.Y. -- Nick Barbaria walked off the mat following his Division I sixth-place finish in the 99-pound weight class at the New York State Public High Athletic Association wrestling championships a little disappointed.
The New Rochelle sophomore, who advanced to the championship semifinals, was quickly straightened out by older brother, A.J., who missed the postseason because of an injury.
“He smacked me in the back of the head and told me I was all-state,” said Nick Barbaria, with a laugh. “He said I had two more years and a bright future ahead of me.”
Nick Barbaria became the third New Rochelle wrestler to place top six in the state since 2004. New Rochelle assistant coach Eddie Ortiz (sixth in 2004) and Malcolm Allen (285-pound state champ in ’11) are the other two.
Barbaria became highly-motivated and determined to win the section and place in the state once he learned that his brother would be sidelined. A.J. Barbaria, who will attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., was one of the top wrestlers in the 120-pound weight class this season.
“He has always been there for me, especially this year, and I wanted to do it for him,” A.J. Barbaria said.
Even though his season had barely concluded, Barbaria was already thinking ahead to the 2012-13 wrestling season. “I am going to work even harder, faster and stronger than I did this year,” Barbaria said. “Next year I want to finish higher than sixth.”