When John Carroll University junior Adam Pizzurro was in 5th grade, his father thought he might have some interest in wrestling, a sport he himself had competed in during his high school years.
Little did the Pizzurro family know that one day, Adam would be on his way to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
Hailing from Westerville, Ohio, Pizzurro has compiled a career record of 68-31 in three years.
This season, his record was an impressive 24-7, while going undefeated in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
On Feb. 17, Pizzurro beat Baldwin-Wallace’s Jared Selover 5-3 to capture his first OAC title at the 133 lb. weight-class.
“It feels great to win an OAC title,” said Pizzurro. Because of his win, he will travel to Dubuque, Iowa, on March 2 to compete in the national tournament. Pizzurro describes this as his “proudest accomplishment at JCU.”
Along with winning the OAC title this year, Pizzurro also was the 125 lb. runner-up at the 2004-2005 OAC championships.
Pizzurro had many accomplishments to be proud of, though, before becoming a Blue Streak.
While at St. Francis DeSales High School, he was a four-time state qualifier who placed 5th in the state as a senior. He also was a two-time Academic All-Ohio honoree.
One person who has known Pizzurro his whole life, and knows how hard he has worked to get where he is today, is Adam’s twin sister and JCU junior soccer player Cara Pizzurro.
“I am really excited for Adam to go to nationals. This is such a great accomplishment in itself,” said Cara.
Cara feels that Adam’s hard work has gotten him to the point he is at, and she added, “I know my family and I are so proud of him, and he should be proud of himself as well.”
Senior Ryan Summers, who will accompany Pizzurro to Iowa as a qualifier in the 184 lb. weight-class, has nothing but praise for his teammate.
“Adam deserves his success more than anyone I know,” said Summers. “I remember seeing him in the weightroom everyday this summer, getting prepared for this season. He has pushed through injuries and got the job done.”
Added Summers, “I can’t say enough great things about him. After he leaves here I bet he will be remembered as one of the elite members to travel through the program. He is a true competitor and also a great all-around person.”
Junior teammate Dominic Spitalieri, who works out with Pizzurro every day, says that Pizzurro has a great work ethic.
“Adam knows when to have fun and when to get serious. He brings intensity into the room and makes everyone else wrestle better. He works hard, and he helps motivate the underclassmen,” said Spitalieri.
Through this great work ethic, Pizzurro has developed since coming from his high school program.
During his time at JCU, he feels as though he has matured physically and mentally as a wrestler.
“At the collegiate level, I have learned that patience is key,” said Pizzurro.
“In most college matches you are wrestling a quality opponent. During a match you can’t take bad shots or make mental errors and still expect to win in high school. If you take a bad shot or make a mistake, you will pay for it,” said Pizzurro.
Pizzurro made very few mistakes on his way to his OAC title.
“After winning in the OAC, I’m excited to have earned another opportunity to compete this season against some of the best guys in the nation,” he said.
However, Pizzurro acknowledges that without the great support he has received from JCU and his family, his OAC title would not be as sweet.
“Winning an OAC title is that much sweeter when others recognize your accomplishments and how much effort you pour into your goal,” he said.
“I am most-blessed for all my family, teammates and coaches. My coaching staff has been there for me all year long, win or lose,” said Pizzurro.
“My teammates continue to support me, offering to work out with me even though many of them have entered the off-season. It’s a great feeling to know I have their support,” he said.
Along with appreciating the support his family has given him, Pizzurro names his father as his biggest role model, whom he feels has opened many doors for his siblings and himself.
He said, “My dad has given all of his kids many opportunities he never had. I know he is proud of my accomplishments, and I am glad that I have made it this far to show I appreciate all the sacrifices and support he has given me.”
When traveling to Iowa this weekend, Pizzurro looks to go hard against all of his opponents.
Pizzurro commented, “In a sport such as wrestling, there is always room for improvement. Staying confident will be the key to my success in the tournament.”
Looking back on the season, Pizzurro notes his team’s great chemistry and very competitive attitude.
“As a team, we all grew from last year,” he said.
Pizzurro added, “We entered this season with a chip on our shoulders. Most importantly, we had to revive our program’s rich tradition.”
“Next year, we will continue to strive to improve. In the OACs, we sent five guys to the finals. Hopefully next season, we will hope to get all five guys to nationals, not just two,” he said.
So as the rest of JCU students return home or travel to exotic places, Adam Pizzurro and Ryan Summers will compete to make dreams come true and achieve their ultimate goals–Division III national wrestling championship titles.