It was a banner year for Church Farm wrestling, with three Griffins qualifying for the state tournament. Sebastian Corrales (160 pounds), Noel Gilgeous (195) and Emmanuel Lawal (285) had all reached states individually in prior years, but this past winter the trio made the trek together.
At the helm is longtime coach Art Smith, who reaped some rewards after years of pouring into kids who barely know the basics of the sport of wrestling when they show up on campus. For his efforts, he is the 2019 Daily Local News' Coach of the Year for wrestling.
Lawal became the school's first state medalist, placing eighth, while Corrales was a win away from joining him on the podium.
It takes a special demeanor and level of patience to mold teenagers with little to no experience into competent wrestlers. Year after year, a new batch of newbies arrive in the Church Farm wrestling room, and more times than not, they leave having learned a sport that demands discipline, determination and perseverance. That alone is worth the experience, but when the stars align and that talent is cultivated and matures into the group that Smith and his staff had this season.
Alongside of Smith are assistants Tom Johnstone, Ian Weigand and Luis Benitez-Palermo, who hope the run of four straight seasons with a state qualifier continue. Corrales and Gilgeous graduate, but Lawal will be back, and who knows who the next Griffin to make something out of nothing will be.