To distinguish between Fox Lane senior Steven Rodrigues (No. 12 @ 130) and Somers junior Brian Realbuto (No. 8 @ 135) is sort of like choosing between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady as your quarterback.
There really is no wrong answer.
That’s why when the time came to select The Journal News Westchester/Putnam Wrestler of the Year, naming co-winners was the only fair and logical choice.
“People won’t realize the impact of how good these two are until they’re gone,” said Anthony Rodrigues, Steven’s father and a Fox Lane assistant coach. “Steven and Brian elevated Section 1.”
Rodrigues and Realbuto were two of five Section 1 wrestlers to capture state titles in February, and both had flawless seasons leading up to that point.
For Realbuto, the state championship was his second (he also won one in 2009), while Rodrigues was able to cap his brilliant high school career with an elusive title.
“I’ve had a great career in Section 1 — one of the better ones — but getting a state title is something I needed to be considered with some of the best,” Rodrigues said.
With one more year to go, Realbuto will continue to add to his lofty win total while attempting to become the first wrestler in Section 1 history to win three state titles.
“Even though I’ve accomplished a lot, I still know there are kids out there who are better than me,” Realbuto said. “I’m trying to get that number to be less and less.”
The feats of both Rodrigues and Realbuto in 2011 will not soon be forgotten. They became two of only three wrestlers in section history to reach 200 career wins, with each going undefeated and winning prestigious Eastern States titles.
Rodrigues will head off to wrestle for Rutgers, while Realbuto has one more year to add to his legacy.