Senior duo builds impressive resumes for Thomas Jefferson wrestling

Sunday, February 21, 2021 | 9:01 AM

Thomas Jefferson wrestlers Kale Buckiso and Michael Zacur burst onto the scene as freshmen in 2017-18.

Both won 27 matches and recorded double-digit pins.

Following their sensational varsity debuts, Buckiso and Zacur posted 26-10 and 28-12 records as sophomores. Buckiso logged 16 falls and repeated his freshman performance by not being pinned once.

Last year, Buckiso racked up a 33-9 record with 14 falls and won a section championship. Zacur finished 34-15 with 19 falls.

Both talented matmen eclipsed the century mark in career wins this season.

“Kale Buckiso is a great technician and in phenomenal shape,” TJ coach Michael Ladick said. “Michael Zacur is incredibly strong and fights through tough positions. Together, they’ve both committed themselves to our program and found an incredible amount of success in both team and individual competitions.”

Buckiso was 19-5 in mid-February, giving him a 105-35 career mark. He logged 49 falls and was pinned just three times in his career.

“I feel that our team has performed well,” Buckiso said. “We did not win the section this year, but our team goes out and battles every time.

“For me personally, I did not achieve one of my main goals which was to place at Powerade. But other than that, it has been going good. My next goal is to place at the state tournament.”

Buckiso’s strengths on the mat are his attention to technique as well as his “gas tank.”

He hails from a wrestling family. Two uncles, Mike and Scott, as well as his dad, Dave, wrestled at Thomas Jeferson. And three cousins, A.J., Mike and Ty, competed at Peters Township.

Buckiso started out at 120 pounds as a freshman and sophomore, jumped to 138 as a junior and is competing at 145 this season.

He attained his 100th career victory Jan. 23 against Hampton at the Hampton Duals.

“I went 5-0 on the day, so that felt good,” Buckiso said.

The 152-pound Zacur also notched his 100th career victory at the Hampton Duals. Zacur posted a 16-6 mark this season to go to 105-43 in his career with 46 falls.

“My season has been great,” he said. “I feel good wrestling at my weight. My goal is to finish strong and make it to the state tournament.”

Zacur said his strengths are his defensive tactics and his skills on top.

“I think as a team we’ve wrestled pretty well,” he said. “Things didn’t really go our way, but overall, I think we did good.”

Zacur wrestled at both 113 and 126 as a freshman, stayed at 126 for his sophomore season and went to 145 as a junior.

He and Buckiso have made a strong impact in the TJ wrestling program as four-year starters.

“They, like all our seniors, have meant the world to us,” Ladick said. “To anyone who is coming up in the program, youth or junior high, the one thing we demand is loyalty. Both Kale and Michael are loyal to themselves, their families, the program, their teammates and the coaches.

“They never complain, they’re always ready to compete, they worked hard in the offseason, they were willing to move weight classes when it was necessary for our team, and they have both helped the next generation in the practice room. I’m incredibly proud of how they grown the past six years and helped us build competitive back-to-back section title teams.”

Ladick is looking forward to watching the tandem continue to progress in postseason action.

“I have no expectations other than for them to compete,” Ladick said. “They know they are in control of their matches, and I’m happy I have a front row seat to watch them wrestle.”

Buckiso and Zacur were two of seven grapplers at TJ who had earned 10 or more victories by mid-February. The others were junior Brian Finnerty (21-3 at 172), senior Trystan Alava (11-6 at 189), sophomore Gabe Galioto (12-5 at 113), senior Naythan Krutules (12-11 at 126) and senior Alby Breisinger (12-12 at 285).

Senior Terry Newbegin (160) and sophomore Jake Bertini (215) were next in line with nine victories apiece.

“All of our wrestlers have risen to a new level,” Ladick said. “These young men have done nothing but meet adversity and continually fight.

“I would also like to say that our parents have been incredibly resilient as well and have shown support like I have never experienced in my 15 years of coaching.”


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