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Wrestling: Sport is family affair for father, son

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12/20/2016 3:00 PM |

Shoreham-Wading River wrestling coach Joe Condon 121916 copy

Throughout the day last Thursday, Ryan Condon had been looking forward to the moment when he would walk onto the mat in the Shoreham-Wading River High School gym and wrestle Westhampton Beach’s Austin Mahon. The two had been slated to face each other in the 182-pound bout.

Condon put himself into the right frame of mind as he prepared to battle.

“I was really excited all day,” Condon said. “I couldn’t sit still. Whenever it’s time for a match, I just want to get out there. I love it.”

Then came the last-minute letdown.

Shoreham coach Joe Condon, Ryan’s father, and Westhampton coach Paul Bass strategized and made some lineup alterations. Instead of wrestling at his regular weight class, Ryan Condon was bumped up to 195, which Westhampton forfeited. Condon marched out to the middle of the mat, had his arm raised and was awarded the win, but he didn’t look happy about the anticlimactic development.

Ryan Condon just wants to wrestle. It has been that way since the senior took up wrestling as a youngster.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ryan Condon followed the path of a wrestler, given his father’s involvement in the sport.

“It’s like my birthright,” the younger Condon said. “I’ve really been wrestling since I could walk, I guess. It’s always been around the house. It’s always been just around the clock, everything is wrestling. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

The father-and-son duo has made for a team within a team. Joe Condon is following in the footsteps of former Shoreham wrestling coaches Don Jantzen and Paul Jendrewski, who both coached their sons as well.

As Joe Condon sees it, coaching his son entails challenges and rewards. One of the challenges comes in treating his son no differently than any of the other wrestlers. “I think that I do,” he said.

“He’s a great kid,” he continued. “He’s very fun. It’s fun to be with him. It’s very stressful. I’m not going to lie, but it’s fun because he’s a really wonderful kid. He works very hard. He rarely complains and more importantly, his grades are excellent.”

Both spoke highly of their shared wrestling experience together.

“I think it’s a lot more motivating to have him there,” Ryan Condon said. “It makes me feel a lot more comfortable on the mat knowing that he’s there and he really knows what he’s doing, so when I’m having trouble in a match or I’m down, I can always look to him and he’ll know what to do because he knows my style, probably better than myself.”

The Condons aren’t the only team members with a family connection. Assistant coach Dave Cummings has two sons on the team, Cooper and Brady.

A year-round wrestler, Condon finished third in the league at 170 last season. In Shoreham’s League VI opener last Wednesday, he pinned Max Maisus in three minutes, 25 seconds as the Wildcats beat Sayville, 46-27.

Ryan Condon said he and his father often talk about wrestling at home. “My dad teaches me everything,” he said. “He’ll sit down with me at home and we’ll watch videos. He’ll analyze my matches and stuff. I owe everything to him.”

Condon will attend SUNY/Maritime College, where he said he hopes to wrestle should the school form a club team.

In the meantime, Joe Condon is enjoying his son’s final high school season.

“It’s just great to be a part of it and I think I’ll remember it,” the coach said. “Time goes by quick. He was in kindergarten, it seems like, the other day in kid wrestling.”

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Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River coach Joe Condon and his son, Ryan, in the school’s wrestling room. (Credit: Bob Liepa)

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