Senior wrestlers, Justin Leonard and Luke Brantly, have been dominating their opponents on the wrestling mats for the last four years at Ramapo as varsity starters.
Justin started wrestling when he was in first grade. “My dad got me into it when I was young and I didn’t like it initially,” Justin said “I played other sports growing up, but wrestling was the sport that I loved the most as I got older because it is a very individual sport where you win and lose solely based on your own performance.” Luke has plenty of experience as well, for he has been wrestling for 10 years.
Justin and Luke reflected on how much they developed as wrestlers during their time at Ramapo. Luke states “Some coaches that shaped the way I wrestled were Coach Heitman, Coach Gibbs, Coach Decarlo, and Coach Gonzalez.”
Justin credits his family and coaches, “ My dad taught me a lot, as well as my brother Jake for training with me,” Justin stated, “Coach Gibbs always made sure that we were in the best shape possible and always prepared for each match. I’ve also learned so much from my past teammates who have graduated over the years,” he added. Justin has won 121 bouts at Ramapo, a school record, and finished his high-school career at an incredible 121-33. Luke has also been remarkable, putting up an astounding 106-39 record.
“My experience as a wrestler at Ramapo was by far the best four years of my life, Justin stated, “Our team had a special bond that we developed training together over the summer which we carried into the season. Wrestling is mostly an individual sport, but at the same time, it is about the team and not just one wrestler. We were all very close and helped each other grow as athletes.” Luke added “Even though it was a lot of work I had the time of my life wrestling at Ramapo and meeting a lot of great people through it.”
Both Justin and Luke topped off their incredible final seasons by qualifying for the Region 1 Tournament, and later qualifying for New Jersey State Tournament.
“It was awesome to wrestle at Boardwalk Hall [location of NJ State Tournament] in front of a lot of people in an arena like that. It is one of the times where the sport gets the attention that it deserves,” Justin described the experience.
Justin and Luke are ready to continue their careers in college at New York University. On behalf of Ramapo and Rampage, good luck Justin and congratulations on an incredible career at Ramapo!
By: Evan Katopodis, Staff Writer
Featured Image: Justin (left) and Luke (right) after a match. Justin and Luke won the District Two Tournament and qualified for the State Tournament. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Leonard)