SIOUX CITY | Michael Andreano has endured the pain that wrestling demands of so many. Now he hopes for the payoff.
The Briar Cliff senior has been on the podium at the national tournament, but that was as a freshman and at a different school. That was more than a couple of injuries ago and before he felt he fully dedicated himself to the mat life.
That is no longer the case as the eighth-ranked 133-pounder is determined to make his final season with the Chargers one that will far outlast all the pain and effort to get there.
The Saddle Brook, New Jersey native began his college career at a school that didn’t even offer wrestling before Pete Di Pol, the former Bishop Heelan head coach, found him while he was coaching at Baker University and brought him to Kansas. It was a successful freshman campaign as Andreano finished eighth at 125 pounds at the national tournament to claim All-American honors.
However, after his successful run, Di Pol left Baker and Andreano decided to make the move to Sioux City after a semester in search of a better room for him.
“(Baker) just didn’t have that family feel that was there when Pete was the coach,” Andreano said. “I am grateful for the opportunity that this team gave me to excel and grow in a sport that I love.”
“The kid is a workhorse and he does everything you ask him to do,” Briar Cliff Coach Joe Privitere said. “Hopefully he gets what he deserves this year.”
Andreano went 16-5 and was a national qualifier his first season with the Chargers during the 2015-16 season and backed that up last season going 31-9 but failed to earn a top-eight finish due to injury. Injuries and the national tournament have gone hand in hand for Andreano recently.
“My sophomore year when I was (at nationals) I ended up tearing my labrum and separating my other shoulder so I was wrestling with two bad limbs,” he said. “Last year I got desperate, I was losing the match, and I thought rolling under might be a choice instead of wrestling smart and all. I took a knee to the head and got a concussion that took me out of it.”
About that other separated shoulder during his sophomore campaign.
“When I first got (to Briar Cliff) and was going with a kid that All-Americaned here two years ago, Sonny Gulesian, he ended up working a front head lock,” Andreano said. “He has a very good front head and he ended up separating my shoulder.”
To understand why he is so driven as a senior to finish well when nationals are wrestled in Des Moines at the end of the season, you have to look back to his high school days.
“When I was a freshman in high school was the only year I ever placed in New Jersey states and I placed eighth place, just like I did my freshman year of college,” he said. “I am just having that déjà vu moment where I am like ‘I have to really step up my game and not let these injuries get me. Wrestle smart, take care of myself, don’t let nothing slow me down.”
With better eating and focusing on his training, Andreano said it has become easier to get down to weight and still feel strong on the mat when he is wrestling. He is focusing on working angles and passing arms to avoid putting unneeded stress on his body.
“Personally, I thought it was a fluke me placing as a freshman in high school, and I want to show it wasn’t a fluke me working as hard as I did and I can All-American again,” he said. “The higher I can place just shows more evidence toward that.
“I look back on it now and the years go by so fast I just wish I worked as hard my high school career and beginning of my college career as I have the past two years.”
Andreano is joined by fellow ranked Chargers Nate Ryan No. 7 at 141, Gulesian No. 12 at 141 and No. 15 Nathan Garcia at 174 in the preseason rankings.
Privitere likes the development he has seen from the New Jersey native within the team.
“He has become more of a leader and more outspoken,” Privitere said. “When you transfer you have to figure out where you fit in. Now that it is his last year we are confident in him and his technique, and he helps out the guys quite a bit and is much more vocal. He is starting to see this as his team.
“He has all the parts to get it done and I don’t think it is a question of if he is an All-American this year. It is just how high.”