Intelligencer Wrestler of the Year: Hatboro-Horsham's AJ Tamburrino

by Drew Markol, The Intelligencer

Posted on March 30, 2020

Article originally appeared here:

It wasn't supposed to go the way it did.

Coming off a third-place finish at the PIAA Southeast Regional tournament, it was time for Hatboro-Horsham senior A.J. Tamburrino to regroup and make a run at a PIAA state title - after finishing with a bronze medal in Hershey as a junior.

Then, an unexpected thing happened in the opening of the PIAA state tournament: Tamburrino lost and immediately fell into the dreaded consolation bracket at 152 pounds.

"I didn't expect to lose my first match," Tamburrino said. "That was nobody's fault but my own.

"I wasn't ready to wrestle and deserved to lose. You need to have the right mindset, especially at the state tournament, and I didn't have that and it ended up costing me a chance at a state title, which was my ultimate goal."

It was what happened after his first-round loss that separates Tamburrino from many others.

Instead of packing it in and being eliminated from the tournament with another loss, he went on a run and eventually ended up with a fifth-place medal.

"AJ is an incredible teammate and leader," Hatboro-Horsham coach Trent Mongillo said. "He executes and remains ever focused after setbacks. I can think of no qualities lacking in this fine young man. He is the type of person that we want all student-athletes to aspire to become.

"He'll be attending the United States Naval Academy and that is the perfect place for him."

All of it adds up to Tamburrino being named The 2020 Intelligencer Wrestler of the Year.

"In spite of being extremely talented, AJ works incredibly hard to hone his skills," Mongillo said. "His extra workouts and training would be difficult for wrestlers of his caliber to complete on a daily basis as their primary workouts.

"He does not complain, is very confident, and yet, he's remarkably humble."

Tamburrino finished his season with a 40-5 record and had a career mark of 126-14 to go along with his two PIAA state medals.

"I was happy that I was able to wrestle back and get on the podium with a fifth place," Tamburrino said. "I never thought about it being my senior year and that I could just forget about trying to get a medal. You can't do that. You just have to keep going and going and try and finish as well as you can.

"If I'd have given up I would have been very disappointed in myself. My parents always taught me to finish what I started and to finish strong and that's what I try to do with everything."

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