The well-organized and ageless Johnston Youth Wrestling program paid off in a unique form of high dividends last weekend in Springfield, Ma.
It was also living proof of what good old-fashioned hard work – and perseverance – can lead to, courtesy of James Baccala.
When the son of Jay and Lisa Baccala was in his senior year at Johnston High School, his sports career in football and wrestling came to a screeching half when James Baccala sustained an ACL injury during the football season.
It was not only a devastating blow to the Panthers’ football fortunes, the torn ACL mean that Baccala would be unable to compete in wrestling.
However, as champion caliber grapplers will tell you, nothing beats hard work and that’s exactly what Baccala did over the next year because as someone closely connected to area wrestling note, “James worked extremely hard and was determined to get back onto the mat.”
His hard work paid off – big time – at last weekend’s National College Wrestling Association’s Regional Championships.
Baccala, who is a freshman at the University of Rhode Island, wrestled his way to fourth place in the often grueling 141-pound weight class and captured what was obviously a much-cherished medal.
As equally impressive, the one-time Panther standout qualified for the NWCA National Tournament that will be held March 14-16 in Allen, Texas.
Which is, as a URI wrestling fan noted, “A long way from Johnston Youth Wrestling, Ferri Middle School, Johnston High and sustaining an often career-ending torn ACL.”