NORWALK, Conn. -- Jeff Cocchia will represent the Norwalk Mad Bull wrestling club at the Eastern Nationals Wrestling Championships to be held May 3 to 4 at the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury, Md.
Cocchia won the district qualifier a few weeks ago in Willimantic and this month won the Eastern Regional Qualifier in Bethlehem, Pa.
The Eastern Regional Qualifier featured some of the best wrestlers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
In the tournament finals, Cocchia bested highly regarded West Chester, Pa.'s, Syncere Cooper 8-4 in an exhausting match that had Cocchia wrestling from behind at one point before an exciting four-point throw by Cocchia that put the match out of reach for the Pennsylvania standout.
Coach Art Schad complimented the Brookside sixth-grader on successfully going this deep into postseason tournaments.
“Jeff has had a dominating season this year, winning the Connecticut States and New Englands. He certainly has raised a few eyebrows from opposing coaches along the way with his aggressive style as we venture out of state for these qualifiers. The Nationals in May should be interesting” Schad said.
“Although this in unchartered territory for our Mad Bull wrestling team, I suspect next year we will have several kids that will be peaking in their career to follow Jeff down this path, getting out of Connecticut and seeing some great regional talent in the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area. It will just make us better as we seek out stiffer competition."
Schad acknowledged the key to Cocchia’s success has been a systematic approach with all of the coaches lending a hand with the postseason training, mixing up the conditioning with live wrestling and drilling.
“We have had several coaches, specifically Randy Haus, Jason Singer and David Slapin, working closely with Jeff and have recruited some Norwalk High wrestlers as well to push him along with his training,'' Schad said.
"Norwalk varsity wrestlers Luke Schwartz and Robert Lewis Zimmerman have put in countless hours with Jeff sharpening his wrestling skills preparing for the nationals, and we look forward to the challenge in Maryland.’’