By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
Staff Writer
Losses in wrestling are different than in just about any other sport. It’s just you out there on the mat, and when you lose, everybody in attendance knows it. And when you’re talking about the NJSIAA Championships at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, sometimes 10,000 people know it. That can be tough to deal with for any teenage athlete.
But St. Augustine Prep sophomore Mike Misita, Glory Days Magazine’s Wrestler of the Year, has an interesting way of looking at losses. He doesn’t even call them losses. That’s why he was able to bounce back from a loss to eventual 182-pound state champion Chris Foca (47-1) of Bergen Catholic in the third round of the state tournament and place eighth — the only Cape-Atlantic League wrestler to earn a spot on the podium this year.
“I enjoyed wrestling Chris. I wrestled him twice, and both times I learned a lot. Losses, to me — and this is an inside joke with one of my coaches — I call them a learn, not a loss. So, I learn a lot, I watch videos to see what happens and do my best to learn each match,” Misita said recently on his way to nationals in Virginia Beach, Va. “I just have an intense regimen going on and I plan on relying on that regimen, and getting better one day at a time and eventually getting to the spot where I need to be.”

Mike Misita, a 182-pounder from St. Augustine Prep, had an outstanding sophomore season, finishing with more than 30 wins and placing eighth in the state in his weight class at the NJSIAA Championships in Atlantic City. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan)


Misita, a Williamstown resident who made the state tournament as a freshman, had a tremendous season this year, posting a 36-11 record individually while also helping the Hermits go 16-5 as a team, including a Non-Public A South championship. Misita said that once the postseason began, he knew he could reach the podium at Atlantic City. And he wrestled like it, ripping through districts while barely breaking a sweat, then dominating the Region 8 Championships with a 7-0 decision over Tommy Watson of Clayton-Glassboro and consecutive pins over Pinelands senior Evan Burton and Delsea senior Curtis Thomas.
“I definitely had the confidence to place there. I knew from my training and last year at states — as soon as states ended my freshman year I was training to become better, and it worked. I lost in the round before the blood round freshman year and I think that really motivated me, because I really wanted to place. When I didn’t, it kind of lit a fire for me and I became really hungry. And I’m still really hungry. I want more,” Misita said. “I leave a lot of it to God, he has a plan for me. Last year (at nationals) I dislocated my elbow and that set me back a couple of months, but, like I said, He has a plan for me and the plan was for me to do that, and that’s how it was. It’s just a lot of training and a lot of hard work that went into this. I was on a mission. I was ready to go out there and do whatever it took to win.”
Many times, at the NJSIAA Championships, a loss is so crushing that wrestlers have a difficult time getting amped up to wrestle again to try to weave their way through the wrestlebacks. But Misita said that’s when you need to be strong mentally so that your season doesn’t come crashing down around you. That’s why he was able to bounce back quickly after getting pinned by Foca.
“It is tough, but it’s all mental. I know my body is ready to do it because I’ve done it a thousand times at practice. I’ve wrestled hours upon hours of live goes at practice, so I know my body is ready for it, it’s just the mental game. I’ve trained a lot for that, too — the mental aspect, which is probably 90 percent of wrestling,” he said. “I took every match one match at a time, and I said this at districts — I take every match the same, I warm up the same. So, I wasn’t really looking ahead too much, I was just focused on who I had first and take on whoever I had to step out against.”
Misita said wrestling at Boardwalk Hall was a bit overwhelming last year as a freshman, but now he has two years of experience there, with two more years of high school wrestling left to go.
“There was quite a bit to learn, but the biggest thing was the environment and how to handle yourself inside that environment,” Misita said. “And your warmup, that was challenging for me because I didn’t realize how fast I was going to be up, stuff like that, but from last year I learned how the tournament flows and this year I was a little better prepared in how to warm up for my matches.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays