By Kevin Prise
HOLLEY — Veteran Hawks wrestling coach John Grillo isn't one to boast about the sectional titles, the undefeated seasons, the accolades that come with building a perennial athletic powerhouse in a small town such as Holley.
But that's not to say Grillo doesn't have plenty of energy when it comes to the sport. Entering his 38th season as head varsity coach at Holley, Grillo returns a contingent of solid wrestlers that hope to keep the Hawks atop the Genesee Region League, and eventually earn a place at the Class BB state tournament later this winter.
Grillo, along with the team, looks forward to it.
"I've got a lot of passion for teaching and coaching these young men," Grillo said. "I enjoy watching the kids grow from the Pee-Wee level to become state-level competitors. It goes back to the consistency in coaching throughout the years, the parents of the wrestlers, and the coaches having a solid work ethic and doing the right things for the boys."
Grillo returns four key players who he hopes will serve as the cornerstone of the team, along with another secondary group that can be counted on to give a strong performance each and every night. Senior Kevin Avery, a middleweight, is a two-time Genesee Region League All-Star wrestler, and good things are also expected from junior middleweight Martin Beadle.
Grillo also projects a solid season from junior Allan White, as well as junior Lucas Silvis.
"Along with our past success, those four guys are going to be the catalyst of our team," Grillo said.
Grillo said the Hawks will be challenged in filling all 15 weight classes, as much of the 41-man roster is currently bunched up in the same weight range.
"We need to get everyone into the different classes," Grillo said. "Our guys are clumped up. We need to cover 15 weight classes with 15 solid wrestlers."
Holley lost 11 seniors to graduation, including three-time state representative Andrew Flanagan and two-time state representative Mike Silvis (Lucas' brother).
Flanagan, a lightweight wrestler, placed fourth and fifth in the state tournament over his junior and senior seasons, and is now wrestling at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Silvis placed third and fifth at states, and is now wrestling at the University at Buffalo.
Grillo expects Alexander and Byron-Bergen to bring good competition in the Genesee Region League, noting that Alexander is loaded with talent and didn't lose too many seniors to graduation.
The Hawks went undefeated in the Genesee Region League last season, finishing in the top 12 in the state in Class BB, and would like nothing more than to continue the success.
"When coaches come and go, it's harder to build up the bond with the kids," Grillo said. "But we've had consistency in coaching, and I have been lucky enough to generate a strong bond with our wrestlers. There's a lot of mutual respect between all of us."