As the wrestling team prepares to compete in Pittsburgh for the first time, Pennsylvania pride is showing itself in full force. For four particular wrestlers, the match against Duquesne is a long-awaited homecoming.
Junior Scott Pasquini, sophomores Jon Bunt and Anthony DeBartolo and freshman Brian Reinhardt all grew up in western Pennsylvania. Now they're all eager to compete there as college wrestlers.
"Everyone's excited," Pasquini said. "We're going to stay an extra night so we can play host to the team. We're going to show them the Hoagie Havens of Pittsburgh and stay with friends from home."
The foursome should receive a warm welcome home. The high school teams of DeBartolo, Pasquini and Bunt will all be at the match, and the Princeton Alumni of Pittsburgh is planning a lunch for the wrestlers.
"This is the first time in a year and a half that my mom, dad and brothers will get to see me wrestle," DeBartolo said. "That's a lot of motivation to win."
Representing the same team in Pennsylvania is a familiar feeling for Pasquini and DeBartolo, who both wrestled for Upper St. Clair High School.
Pasquini credits his coach — Emil Deliere '72 — as part of the reason he wanted to come to Princeton. While wrestling for the Tigers, Deliere placed second in a national tournament and put in many impressive performances on the mat.
"He absolutely did a lot for us to get in here," Pasquini said.
Pasquini and DeBartolo's high school wrestling team also competed against Reinhardt's squad, and the three wrestlers all contended in the same sectional tournament during those years — though always in different weight classes.
"Other kids get sick of us talking about Pittsburgh," Reinhardt said. "It's like a little clique."
"There's a lot of Pittsburgh pride," Bunt added.
The group often refers to their hometown as the "Steel City" or the "City of Champions."
"We've got a good work ethic," Bunt said. "In practice, the group from Pittsburgh might be working just a bit harder."
An opposing regional force made up of three wrestlers from the same high school in Atlanta only adds fuel to the fire.
"Pittsburgh always wins over Atlanta," Bunt said.
Apart from their familiar home setting, roots have proven to be the tie that binds for these wrestlers, their friendship extending far beyond the boundaries of practice.
"When we hang out, Jon, Scott and I always get in good conversations," DeBartolo said. "And the same thing is starting to happen with Brian."
The Pittsburgh wrestlers cannot seem to get enough of one another. DeBartolo, Pasquini and Bunt, along with five of the other wrestlers, are all in the same eating club. In addition, outside of life at Princeton, they continue to spend time together.
"Scott and I have hung out in Maryland together," DeBartolo said. "We see each other a lot over the summer. We all keep in touch when we're not at school."
This constant togetherness may be the reason that head coach Mike New often describes wrestling as a "family and regional thing." These four agree with their coach, commenting on the importance of creating a family atmosphere within the team.
"There are all kinds of different personalities on our team," Pasquini said. "They're like brothers to me."
"When I came [to Princeton], I felt like I was part of this group already," Reinhardt added.
Such a situation has undoubtedly made life easier for the foursome from the "Steel City." At the same time, however, it has also made them even closer than a family.
"I have the same major as Jon and we're taking a lot of the same classes," DeBartolo said. "We basically share the same life."