Williamsville North freshman Cam Catrabone went 6-0 over the course of the three day NHSCA High School Nationals held April 23rd-25th in Virginia Beach, VA on the way to claiming the freshman 132-pound national title.
“It means a lot…it’s a big bracket, big tournament.” Said Catrabone after the championship win. “I haven’t been able to wrestle a whole lot since covid. I think it means a lot…I just think I’m another level from most kids in New York. I think I’m state champion level.”
The NHSCA (National High School Coaches Association) Nationals is an annually held tournament in which there are freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior divisions. Each age division is separated by fourteen individual weight classes. High school students from across the entire country are welcome to apply and compete in the tournament. It is one of the most well respected tournaments for high school age wrestlers in the United States. Hundreds of state champions and place winners attend every year and from which dozens of athletes have gone on to be NCAA champions, NCAA place winners, and even some Olympians like gold medalists Jordan Burroughs and Cael Sanderson.
Cam’s march through the 42-man bracket started on Friday with a 16-0 tech fall over Riley Humphrey from Auxvasse, Missouri in the preliminary round. Then, Catrabone was a 15-0 tech fall winner over Keegan Logan from Indianapolis. Cam continued to dominate on Friday with a first period pin over Milford, Pennsylvania’s Ryder Machado earning a spot in Saturday’s quarterfinal round.
In the quarters, Cam would meet EJ Parco from Danville, California. Catrabone would earn a pin late in the second period after trailing 2-1 to advance to the semifinal round.
Cam’s semifinal opponent would be Fort Lupton, Colorado’s Angelina Alarcon. Trailing 5-4 late in the 3rd period, Catrabone earned one point for an illegal move, a costly error by Alarcon which tied the match 5-5 with no time left forcing the bout into overtime. Catrabone would capitalize on the Colorado grappler’s mistake by earning a two point takedown with only fifteen seconds left in the overtime period to win the match outright and advance to the final.
“I went to take a shot and he scissored my head with his legs,” said Catrabone on Alaron’s late penalty. “I couldn’t finish the shot, with only one second left…it went to a long review and they called it an illegal move…it was crazy. [In overtime] I snapped him down, went to a near side cradle, then a single into a double and finished the move.”
Sunday’s 132-pound freshman national final would put Catrabone against Manchester, Maryland’s Judah Aybar. After going down 2-0 early in the first period, Cam used a reversal straight to near fall points to quickly take the lead 5-2 to end the first period. Cam scored the second period’s only points with an escape to take a 6-2 lead. In the third and final two minutes, Cam started on top. A minute into the period Aybar would get an escape and then a late takedown but with only nine seconds remaining in the match it wouldn’t be enough to overcome Catrabone’s lead with the final score 6-5.
“[The competition] was really interesting…sometimes I was wrestling these kids thinking ‘no way is this a freshman’… but they are freshmen, it just doesn’t feel like it,” said Cam on the other competitors in his bracket. “I’m so used to wrestling kids that are that strong and big but thinking that they’re seniors…but these guys were all freshmen.”
Catrabone concluded, “I definitely want to shout out Kellen [Devlin – coach], my dad [Jeff], and Micky [Moran – WN head coach].”
Catrabone competes on the combined Williamsville North/East high school team in Section VI and placed 6th in the NYS Division I federation tournament at 120-pounds in February 2020. He also placed 3rd at the recent 2021 Journeymen Rudis ‘New York State High School Championships’ in Pennsylvania at 126-pounds.