Highland Park wrestling builds on sibling rivalries

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The wrestling mat in the basement of the Ciancio household hasn’t been used much since the summer.

Are Highland Park brothers Dominic and John Ciancio slacking? Hardly.

“I was wrestling John and his ankle went through the wall,” Dominic Ciancio said. “It needs fixing.”

The wall, that is, not the ankle.

The Ciancio brothers have been a bright spot for a Highland Park wrestling team (1-13) that has talent but not enough depth throughout the lineup to win many dual matches to date.

Dominic Ciancio sports a 20-1 record at 152 pounds and is enjoying his best high school season. John Ciancio has missed some time with injuries but has compiled an 8-3 record at 145 pounds.

“Dom is very aggressive and explosive, and opponents have a hard time keeping him on the mat,” Highland Park coach Chris Riley said. “He’s putting quite a few guys to their back. John is maturing and becoming more fluid; he’s continuing to improve from all three positions.”

The brothers never lack motivation at practice. They are practice partners and quite competitive with one another. They are one of two sets of brothers on the team. Luis Castellanos (182) often wrestles against his brother Eddie Castellanos (170) in practice as well.

“We definitely have a sibling rivalry going on in our wrestling room; that definitely brings it to a new level when they are wrestling one another,” Riley said. “That competitiveness is beneficial and matriculates out to the other wrestlers.”

Dominic Ciancio said he’s forced to be more creative when he wrestles against his younger brother. This prevents him from becoming too predictable and relying on rote tactics.

“I can’t do my bread-and-butter moves because he’ll know what I’m going to do,” Dominic Ciancio said. “It makes for an interesting match because it forces me to try different moves.”

Added John Ciancio, “It’s great motivation wrestling Dom, and it forces me to get better.”

Dominic Ciancio qualified for the sectional tournament as a sophomore but came up one victory shy of advancing as a junior last year. This season, his goal is to represent Highland Park at the state wrestling meet.

“He certainly has that potential,” Riley said.

Knowing this is his final year of high school wrestling, Dominic Ciancio trained harder than ever in the offseason.

“I wanted to be able to hit the ground running when the season started,” he said. “As a result, my cardio is up and my offensive is a lot stronger.”

This has allowed Dominic Ciancio to dictate the tempo of most of his matches.

“I have a lot more confidence,” he said. “I go out and wrestle my match and don’t worry about anything else.”

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