BY TONY PINCIARO
Benderoth grew up in the North Rockland kids’ wrestling program, and wrestled JV as a seventh-grader before embarking on an outstanding varsity career in eighth grade. “The first time I had the pleasure of coaching Blaise was in seventh,” said Swick, remembering him as an unusually determined athlete. “When he had choice for position, he would look at me and tell me he wanted top…It’s not often a seventh-grader tells the coach what he wants, but he was confident wrestling on top.”
Benderoth has a lengthy resume that includes a sectional title (last year), two sectional runner-up spots (eighth-grade and freshman years) and a third-place finish (sophomore year). Along with winning the 2014 Section 1 Large-School 152-pound title and finishing third, he has two wild-card berths and a sixth-place finish his sophomore year.
Even with a sectional crown and third-place-state finish, Benderoth raised his work level during the offseason in preparation for his senior year. And it has not stopped.
“All offseason I focused on my feet, improving everything and becoming more of a threat with throws,” said Benderoth, who is currently 16-0 on the season and 186-18 in his career. A recent state ranking had him as the number one wrestler in New York within his weight class. “I’m working harder than ever, getting pushed farther and farther by Coach Swick, Coach Hoke and Nick Didio. Also, I work with a Japanese world team member two times a week.”
Swick has witnessed Benderoth’s growth in another facet of wrestling while working with Hiroki Kayamori.
“Blaise has worked on his upper body moves, adding throws which gives him even more of an arsenal.” Swick said.
Benderoth is among the elite wrestlers in the state, which makes opponents determined to beat him. However, what drives Benderoth is not his opponent’s determination, but his quest for daily progress.
“What makes me work harder is trying to become one percent better every day and be the best I can be everyday,” Benderoth said.
Swick said Benderoth broke through last year and raised his wrestling to the next level based on one thing.
“Blaise has always done all the right things and all the work during the offseason,” Swick said. “Blaise turned the corner last year because he focused, even more so, on wrestling and not concerned about cutting weight. He said he was not going to cut weight.”
Benderoth has matured into an outstanding wrestler and leader. Swick said Benderoth takes charge in the room and is always helping out the younger guys.
While his individual accomplishments are many, Benderoth is even prouder of the team’s success during his varsity career. North Rockland won the 2014 Section 1 Large-School team title and has monopolized the Rockland County team championship. Even though North Rockland wss defeated by archrival Suffern in the semifinals of the Section 1 Dual-Meet Large-School Championship, Benderoth said the team has its collective eyes on a grander prize.
“We lost in the dual-meet championship, but I think that will give us motivation to win the individual tournament,” said Benderoth, who is planning to wrestle in college. “We feel we can have guys place in the section which will give us a big boost in the team points.”