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Concordia wrestler grapples to the top

Vincent De Marinis is making a name for himself with two national titles

Concordia is home to one of the best young wrestlers in the country, and you probably didn’t even realize it.

Vincent De Marinis is a two-time national champion in the 65-kilogram weight class in wrestling. He recently defended his national title in Edmonton at the University of Alberta. He went 3-0 in the group stage, without being pinned down once, before beating Brock University’s Mizam Tamaradze in the final.

De Marinis won the national championship in his weight class this year. Photo Courtesy of U SPORTS.

De Marinis said even though he won the national title last year, he did not slack off heading into this season. He trained hard, and did not get over-confident before heading into the 2017 National Championships.

“Coming into this competition, I really felt ready, and I was excited to get that second gold medal,” De Marinis said. “I was really proud of myself.”

The fourth-year finance student hopes to continue making a mark in Canadian wrestling after he leaves Concordia. He said his ultimate goals are to make the Olympics for Team Canada and win a medal at the World Championships.

He already has a foot in the door on an international stage, as he has represented Canada on two occasions. His first time wearing the red-and-white instead of Concordia’s maroon-and-gold was at the 2013 World Junior Championships in Bulgaria. He said his first experience representing his country was a learning one.

“When I was a junior, I got blown away,” he said. “That was, more than anything, a wake-up call. That was an indicator to what level it takes to compete internationally.” Two years later, at the Pan-Am Championships in Chile, he won a bronze medal.

His road to representing Canada at an international level would not have been possible without the help of his coaches at his various schools, including the Concordia Stingers. He started wrestling at John Rennie High School, when his friend suggested he join the wrestling team, which was coached by the late Don Kinsella. He said he was unsure about joining the team, but his friend reassured him.

“I was pretty nervous, because I was small, but he told me I would be against people my size,” De Marinis said.

So he joined the team, which was not an official school team, but rather, an after-school activity. Coincidentally enough, his first wrestling match was at Loyola High School. De Marinis started his wrestling career just steps away from where he now practices it.

Vincent De Marinis is in his fourth year with the wrestling team at Concordia. Photo by Brianna Thicke.

After graduating from high school, he attended Vanier College, which did not have a wrestling team. However, he continued training at the Montreal Wrestling Club, where he met Victor Zilberman, the head coach of the Concordia Stingers wrestling team. De Marinis said he knew right away that he would be going to Concordia to compete for the Stingers, and he’s grateful for the opportunity Zilberman gave him.

“Coming out of high school, I was a kid with no head on his shoulders, then I met Victor and started training seriously,” he said.

Since then, De Marinis has trained to become one of the most dominant wrestlers in the country. He has won most of the tournaments he’s competed in, and now sits at the top of his weight class for the second year in a row.

He said his bread-and-butter move is the fireman throw. Like the name suggests, it looks like when a fireman is rescuing someone, carrying them away over his shoulder. Except in wrestling, De Marinis is not attempting to save anybody’s life, but rather, trying to pin his opponent down.

“It’s probably something most wrestlers look out for when they face me,” De Marinis said.

A great athlete does not come without weaknesses. He added that, while his key move is a relatively safe one, when he attempts to do more aggressive moves, he gets beat by his opponent’s counter-attack.

“When I do leg attacks, something that leaves me more vulnerable, and I tend to get countered,” he said.

Like any student-athlete, De Marinis also has to grapple between school work, 30 hours of training a week and a social life. For him, the key to his success is pinning down one task at a time. A bit like what he does on the wrestling mat on his way to national titles.

“I try to take it one day at a time,” he said. “You can’t look at what needs to be done in the future, you need to look at what needs to be done now.”

He said wrestling has taught him many valuable lessons that he applies to other areas in his life. He said he has learned work ethic, how to deal with tough situations, time management, discipline and how to make sacrifices.

“If you’re not going to take anything out of wrestling itself, you’re going to take life lessons,” he said.

De Marinis will be back with the wrestling team next year for his fifth and final season, where he said he is looking towards winning a third-straight national title.

About Nicholas Di Giovanni