The latin phrase “Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae”, translated as “truth for Christ and the Church,” may not mean much to many of us, but today it takes on a much greater significance for one of our native sons, Wantagh High School senior Joe Barbato. As the motto of Harvard University, this is a slogan that the 2010 NYS DI state runner-up will become very familiar with over the course of the next four years as it was announced this afternoon that the Warrior wrestler had given a verbal commitment to Crimson Head Coach, Jay Weiss…In making this decision, Barbato becomes the second wrestler from his high school to give a verbal commitment to a DI institution. He joins fellow state runner-up, Joe Kavanagh, who committed to Hofstra University all the way back in July. Barbato is the first member of the current senior class to select the Cambridge, Massachusetts based school of high learning.
A 3x All-County wrestler for Coach James Murphy, it did not take the future Crimson student-athlete long to make a name for himself. Competing as a slightly undersized freshman in the 96-pound weight class, Barbato refused to make any excuses, earning the first of his three Nassau County semifinal berths behind a pair of bonus point victories (a pin on the 1st round; a 15-0 technical fall in the quarterfinals). While he would taste defeat and have to settle for a fifth place finish, the wheels had been set in motion for a career full of triumph.
As a sophomore, the young man who epitomizes the term student-athlete would earn his first trip to the NYS DI tournament, receiving a wildcard bid after finishing as the bronze medalist at 2009 Section VIII championship. Barbato would maximize this opportunity, winning his first two bouts to secure All-State honors. While, for the second consecutive season, the Vougar Honors Wrestling Club representative’s season would end in disappointment (dropping his final three bouts), finishing 6th, no one could discount the impact that this young man had in helping his team claim both the Sectional and the State team crowns.
Last season, all of the intangibles seemed to come together all at once for Barbato as he enjoyed by far the best single-season of his high school career….Registering two falls, 16-0 tech fall, and a 9-0 major decision in claiming his first individual Nassau County title (@ 103), Barbato was just getting warmed up as he would save his best wrestling for Albany…Entering the state tournament as the 8th seed, not many people gave the Wantagh wrestler a shot against returning state champion/top-seeded Mike Soria of Kings Park. However, demonstrating why matches are not wrestled on paper, the junior fought tooth and nail for every second of the bout, eventually emerging with a 5-3 upset victory…Awaiting him in the semifinals would be his VHW club mate, Chris Brienza (currently a freshman at American University). Surrendering the opening takedown of the bout, Barbato refused to get down on himself, fighting his way back by working tough from the top position. Having already locked up 3NF, Barbato would soon punch his own ticket to center stage, completing the “pin and the win” with 12 seconds remaining in the second period…While he would drop a 9-2 decision in the finals, the message that this kid was the real deal had already been etched into the brains of every Empire State wrestling aficionado present in the Times Union Center.
Showing amazing resilience and determination, the InterMat-49 honorable mention designated grappler would shake off his final match of the regular season and further polish his resume by earning All-American honors behind a third place finish at the NHSCA Junior National tournament in Virginia Beach, VA….Most impressive about this feat was the manner in which it was accomplished. After dropping his opening bout 10-2, Barbato would go on a hot streak, winning his next six consecutive bouts (including a 10-4 win in the consolation quarters to avenge his only loss) to rightfully earn his spot on the podium.
Projected as a possible career 125-pounder on the college scene, Barbato has his pick of top academic universities, opting for the Crimson over UPenn, Princeton, and SUNY-Binghamton. When asked what inspired his decision, Barbato said the following: “Harvard was always my main choice. I like the guys on the team a lot, and felt they gelled really well and that I would be welcomed into their family. Also my former high school teammate Paul Liguori going there was major deciding factor for me. The coaching staff was also great; I think I fit in with them really well, both with personality and philosophy wise. They [the Harvard staff] were supportive throughout the process and I felt their guidance would help me grow as both a wrestler and a person as I embark on my college years.”— A very intelligent response from a very intelligent young gentleman!
As has become our trademark here at LHW, were sincerely congratulate Joe, his family, Coach Murphy and the Wantagh program, as well Coach Weiss and staff on today’s breaking news. We wish all parties a successful and injury free 2011 season. Go Warriors!; Go Crimson!