Garnet Valley's Marino escapes brother's shadow

Garnet Valley's Michael Marino pins an opponent. The senior has made a name for himself.
Garnet Valley's Michael Marino pins an opponent. The senior has made a name for himself. (RON TARVER / Staff)
Posted: February 08, 2014

Around the onset of the 2010-11 season, Rocco Fantazzi wasn't yet sure what he had in Michael Marino.

The Garnet Valley wrestling coach knew of Marino's family history in the sport, as elder brother Joe Marino had muscled his way to 128 wins in his four years with the Jaguars and went on to compete for Harvard University.

Fantazzi also recognized that Michael Marino was stepping in as his older brother departed for Cambridge, Mass., and he knew that Michael came in with the weight of being "Joe's little brother."

As Fantazzi would soon find out, Michael Marino entered the high school ranks in search of a new reputation, one that would set him apart for his own wrestling endeavors instead of his family name.

"Unfortunately, he came in with a reputation of a wrestling background, and we were trying to relieve the pressure of him coming in his brother's footsteps," Fantazzi said.

"So it took time for him to come in and break out on his own and to try to do his own thing."

Now a senior 126-pounder, Marino has made a name for himself at Garnet Valley, earning a pair of gold medals in the District 1 championships in the last two seasons, two second-place finishes in the regional tournament, and a sixth-place medal last season at the state championships in Hershey.

"Coming in freshman year, my name was known a little bit already because of my brother, so I've had to make a name for myself," he said.

Marino also eclipsed the career mark for wins at Garnet Valley, grabbing the school record with his 131st - a match-opening pin in a first-round consolation victory against Quakertown on Jan. 31 in the District 1 Class AAA duals tournament.

"Breaking a hundred wins last year was pretty big for me," Marino said. "Getting that as a junior is a tougher thing to do. This year, I thought I was going to break the record at some point, but nothing's a guarantee, and for me, just going out there tough and getting the win is more important for me than setting records."

As Marino has never wrestled higher than the 126-pound weight class, Fantazzi said the senior uses raw strength and quickness to excel on the mat.

With Marino (25-6) as one of their steady winners, the Jaguars have put together a 2013-14 campaign that resulted in an appearance Tuesday in the PIAA Class AAA duals, the first state team tournament outing in the school's history.

"It's been an awesome year," Marino said. "This year, just being able to dominate teams and shut teams out, it's really motivating and exciting."

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