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PEPPO CONTINUING ESJ WRESTLING’S GRAND TRADITION

By Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / February 4, 1998

RESERVE – East St. John has had a number of top-notch wrestlers in itshistory as evidenced by the banners hanging in the Wildcats’ gym. Districtchampionships in 1983, 84 and 85. State runners-up in 1983 and 85.

The latest in the line of top-notch wrestlers to come out of the Wildcats’program is Nick Peppo, a three-time state qualifier.

Peppo has bloodlines in the sport as his dad and brother both wrestled.

Peppo began wrestling at East St. John as a freshman and immediatelysurprised everybody by qualifying for the state tournament in the 106-pound weight class.

Peppo has been to state every year since and was the fourth seed in the119-pound weight class going into last year’s tournament. But he failed toplace and said that was one of the biggest disappointments of his career.

One of Peppo’s most memorable moments occurred earlier this seasonwhen he achieved his 100th victory at the City Championships. Peppowrestled Archbishop Rummel’s Scott Welty, who he had defeated threetimes previously this season, in the finals of the 125-pound weight class.Peppo trailed until the third period when he scored a late takedown bytaking Welty down near the edge of the circle. He held off a late rally byWelty to take an 8-7 victory, the first time he has placed at the citychampionships.

“I then went home and relaxed,” Peppo joked.Peppo has continued his winning ways, winning the St. Paul’s Tournamentthis past weekend. His record this season now stands at 35-3. He has beenselected as the team’s Most Valuable Player each of the last two seasons,something he attributes to his hard work and dedication.

“I feel like I have deserved all the tournaments I have won because I haveworked harder the next guy.”Peppo also gave credit to his teammates for his success.

“They motivate me,” Peppo said. “When I am uncertain about a match, theykeep my spirits up. It is like a family. We do what we can for each other.”

Peppo and the Wildcats will participate in the regionals this weekend inan attempt to qualify for state. The top seven wrestlers in each weightclass qualify for the state tournament, which will be held at theUniversity of New Orleans Feb. 13-14.Peppo said the regional that the Wildcats compete in is the hardest instate. Among the teams competing will be Jesuit, Brother Martin andGrace King, three of the top programs in the state.

Peppo will have a chance at regionals to defeat the one wrestler who hasgotten the better of him, Jesuit’s Travis Guilbeault. Peppo lost to him lastyear by a point in overtime.

After his high school career is over, Peppo said he would like to continuein the sport as a coach.

“I want to help out with the sport,” Peppo said.

East St. John assistant coach Scott Murphy, Peppo’s head coach in hissophomore and junior year, believes Peppo can stay involved in the sport.

He said he attributes Peppo’s success to his commitment. Peppo andhisfamily also raised the money needed to send him to one of the mostprestigious wrestling camps in the country in Oklahoma.

“He is a leader on the team,” Murphy said. “He sets a good example withhis work ethic. His technique has greatly improved from last year, and heis a more sound wrestler now.”

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