by Paul Nielsen
WAXHAW – The agony of defeat has turned into the thrill of victory for Marvin Ridge wrestler J.C. Ciaramella.
Two years ago as a sophomore, Ciaramella failed to advance to the Class 3A State Wrestling Championships after losing in the regional. That lit a fire under Ciaramella, and he put the hammer down to become a better wrestler.
Since that loss, Ciaramella has done nothing but win.
Last year as a junior, Ciaramella compiled a 46-3 record and capped the year by defeating Josiah Ramirez of Orange High in Hillsborough to win the 170 Class 3A state championship.
Ciaramella has been even more impressive on the mat this winter as the senior is 30-0 at 182. Ciaramella recently won two prestigious tournaments – The King of Kings Tournament and the Holy Angels Tournament. At the King of Kings, Ciaramella defeated Ramirez in the finals and he won four of his five matches at Holy Angels by pin.
And along the way, Ciaramella signed to wrestle in college at Rutgers University.
Ciaramella, who started wrestling in the seventh grade, said losing in the regionals as a sophomore was a wakeup call. Ciaramella spent countless hours in the wrestling room, both at Marvin Ridge and for his club wrestling team, and the weight room to prepare for his junior season a year ago.
“I didn’t take it super seriously and get committed until the end of my sophomore year and going into my junior year,” Ciaramella said. “Losing in regionals and not going to state really motivated me. It drove me to work harder.”
In the title match last season, Ciaramella fell behind 6-2 early in the match but rallied for a 12-7 decision.
“It was amazing,” Ciaramella said. “I went up 7-6 and going into the third period, I knew he (Ramirez) was tired and I said, ‘I have to keep pushing the pace, I have to keep pushing the pace.’ That is what I did, and I broke him and won.”
Ciaramella said defeating Ramirez at the King of Kings was a satisfying victory but the 5-foot-10 senior knows the road back to the top of the podium at the state wrestling championships won’t be an easy one.
“That match was really important to me because I wanted to prove that it wasn’t a fluke at the state finals,” Ciaramella said. “It was 5-2 but he really couldn’t score on me and I took him down twice in the third period. I just have to stay focused and keep training hard because that is how I won it last year.”
Marvin Ridge wrestling coach Rick Stack said Ciaramella’s dedication to the sport could lead to a second state championship. Stack is in his first season at Marvin Ridge after having coached at Myers Park the previous 10 seasons. He has also coached at Charlotte Catholic High, Charlotte Country Day High and Providence High.
“It’s been a pretty outstanding year and he works really hard,” Stack said. “He will go from one practice to another. He is all about wrestling. He doesn’t stop, and the guy just keeps going and going. His goal is to win state again. He fulfills the goals he wants to fulfill. I think that drive in him drives him to work hard every day.”
Ciaramella also wrestles at C2X Wrestling in Fort Mill, S.C. He said that was a big factor in his decision to go to Rutgers. His two coaches – Tom Tanis and Tim Hennessy – at C2X both wrestled at Rutgers.
“I wanted to follow in their footsteps,” Ciaramella said. “Rutgers is a great program and they have great coaches there.”