Joey Yanis’ life is wrestling.
Ask him about the sport and the 2018 Minisink Valley graduate will tell you he eats and breathes wrestling. That kind of dedication made him one of Section 9’s top wrestlers over the past three years.
Now Yanis gets to test himself against the nation’s best in his final tournament before leaving for college.
Yanis arrived in Fargo, N.D., earlier this week for his first Freestyle Nationals, which begins Saturday. He will compete at 195 pounds in the Junior division.
“It’s pretty special,” said Yanis, who will wrestle for NCAA Division III Brockport. “It’s another accolade to try to add to my career. It’s honestly just a good experience to be out here.”
His goal is to earn all-American honors by finishing in the top eight. He’s put in the work: Yanis travels to northern New Jersey at least twice a week to Buxton Athletic Training Center, run by former Blair Academy coach Jeff Buxton. He’s worked out with Leo Tarantino, a 2018 national prep champion and Harvard freshman.
“If you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best,” Yanis said. “There are nationally ranked kids that are going to push you. Leo Tarantino would be kicking my (butt) every time I went there and would be pushing me to get better.”
Joining Yanis in Fargo are Minisink Valley wrestlers Mia Macaluso (127), Sofia Macaluso (122) and Grace Pauls (132), as well as Kingston junior Jacob Chenier (113). Mia Macaluso and Pauls placed third and fifth, respectively, in the Cadet Division at Fargo last year.
Mia Macaluso finished seventh at 127 pounds in the final 2017-18 national girls high school rankings.