The 100 Win Club, as of January 2019, remains an exclusive group inside the Leesville Wrestling team. Only four members of the Varsity Wrestling team can own the right of extending their win number in their careers to triple digits during the 2018-2019 season. These are their stories of their hard work, days of starvation and exceptionally skilled matches which got them to the coveted 100 win achievement.
Jacob (Jake) Polansky
Jake Polansky is a noticeable figure in the halls of Leesville Road. If the flip flops in 20 degree weather or the long, Thor-like hair doesn’t ring a bell, most notice Polansky by his varsity jacket for the Leesville Wrestling team.
The actions Polansky takes to earn his spot on the team stretches further than a practice or two inside of the Leesville mat room.
Polansky’s strength and skill come from many, many hours of his summer. He trains with his teammates at multiple wrestling clubs,such as the Wolfpack Wrestling Club at NC State or The Crew in Holly Springs. Polansky takes advantage of his time at the clubs in order to better himself as a wrestler and all around athlete.
“[When I train at these clubs] I’m able to gain better experience with more qualified training partners,” said Polansky. “When you continuously get the crap beaten out of you, it makes you better.”
Freshman year was a year to forget in Polansky’s book. Sent to JV during his first season with Leesville, Polansky mustered an uneventful 2-5 record freshman year, as a part of the 138 lbs weight class. However, Polansky knew change was coming by next season.
Switching from 138 lbs to 145 lbs his sophomore year, Polansky gained momentum as he was moved up to Varsity. Finishing the season with a 48-12 record, and a trip to nationals, Polansky’s hot streak showed no signs of slowing down.
As of January 30, 2019, Polansky moved up to the 160 lbs weight class, and currently has a record of 51-8. Polansky qualified for states once again in 2019. Polansky placed 5th in his weight class at States, and qualified for Nationals for the second straight year.
“100 wins is one of the goalposts. Once I get past it, there’s always more to conquer,”
Richie Rizzuto’s mindset is similar to the rest of the team: Win, and move on. However there is something different about Rizzuto. His aggressive mentality for greatness was put on display each time he steps on the mat. 100 wins doesn’t affect Rizzuto like his teammates. It’s more of a stepping stone for him than anything else.
Rizzutos’ accolades continued to add up over three seasons of wrestling for Leesville. With his teammates listed in the article, Rizzuto became a regional champion last season, and went along with Buico and Polansky to nationals later that same year.
Rizzuto has never stayed in the same weight class for more than a year while competing. His freshman year he competed in the 106 lbs class, followed by 113 lbs his sophomore year, and 120 lbs junior year. For next year, however, Rizzuto plans to lose some pounds and compete in the 113 lbs class his senior year.
“[As I prepare to] make my descent from 120 to 113 [(lbs], 120 actually taught me a lot. It helped me grow with opponents who are bigger and stronger than me, giving me the mentality that I’m gonna be the bigger one,” said Rizzuto.
Rizzuto was more than well-prepared on his road to gaining the century mark in the win column. His training in the off-seasons includes freestyle and greco-roman training at different clubs around the Triangle area.
Rizzuto trained for the 2019 Regionals tournament, where he qualified for states once more. He placed second in his class at states, and qualified for Nationals along with Polansky for the second year in a row.
If you see Brandon Jones outside of school, you’ll likely find him doing his homework. Jones usually doesn’t say much; he usually just goes out on the mat, competes, wins, and leaves when the event is over.
With a prior background in martial arts, Jones uses his agility to keep an edge on his opponents, which has led to consistently good records in his Leesville career. But for Jones, 100 wins isn’t all of what it’s meant to be.
When asked about the importance of his 100 wins, Jones just shrugs it off.
“I don’t know — it’s just another win. [The team] is just gonna keep working,” said Jones.
Though some of his teammates like Polansky called Jones naturally gifted at the sport, his constant winning– like the rest of the members in the 100 win club– came through hard work. However, Jones takes a different approach to his training. He doesn’t go to the wrestling clubs like the other members in the 100 win club go to. Rather, Jones trains at school and goes to workout at home with his brother, Zack Jones, Leesville alumni wrestler, who graduated in 2015.
Even if he doesn’t train in the same way his teammates train, Jones gets the job done on the mat regardless. Brandon is regional champion and went to states for 2018 and 2019. Unfortunately, Jones was out of the tournament in two matches, but it can’t take away his hard earned achievement.
Without the jacket, Max Buico keeps his reputation as one of the funniest people at Leesville. As he prepared for his interview, he put on his bloody doctor coat. From first glance, Buico may not seem like a wrestler, with his shorter stature, but one would be sorely mistaken to underestimate the talent Buico possesses on the mat. By gaining a starting spot on varsity his freshman year, Buico began to rack up his wins with a 33-17 record and improved to 48-10 his sophomore year, good enough to qualify for states and eventually nationals with Polansky and Rizzuto.
Currently, Buico holds a 52-6 record through the second round of the playoffs.
His training for his 100 wins is no different than the rest of those who are included in the club.
“All of the guys in the 100 win club are people who dedicated at least half of their summer to training and going across the state and the country to get better [as a wrestler],” said Buico.
Buico trained alongside his listed teammates at Wolfpack Wrestling Club as well as The Crew during his summers, and plans to continue to train there. Since the club is located on the North Carolina State University campus, wrestlers from the school’s team stop by and give out advice and tips to the high schoolers.
“When you’re getting experience from the next level, it really helps you become a better wrestler,” said Buico.
Getting 100 wins was more than just a solo effort for Buico. The four that accomplished the feat in one season was a new record for Leesville, as the school had never more than two members of the wrestling team reach 100 wins in their career in a single season.
“It’s such a large accomplishment, and I’m proud to have done it as a junior. It shows the work ethic that if you trust the process at Leesville, then you’re gonna get better,” said Buico.
Buico trained for the 2019 Regionals tournament, where he qualified for states in 2019. Though he did not place at States, Buico will travel with Polansky and Rizzuto for the second consecutive year to Nationals.
All four of the members of the 100 win club made states. Their hard work and dedication will come to a climax in the postseason and prove why they deserve their 100 wins.