It’s a family affair

By RYAN PAPASERGE

OBSERVER Sports Reporter

Brothers Hector and Tito Colom rewrote the Dunkirk wrestling record books by breaking or tying decades-old marks this season with impressive showings in tournaments along the way.

What scares opponents and delights head coach Joe McMurdy regarding the Section 6 Class B champions is the fact that Tito’s a freshman and Hector is just a seventh-grader.

“They’re always willing to learn, they’re always willing to work hard,” McMurdy said. “When they did lose, they lost with class they’re very coachable kids.”

And they rarely lost.

Both brothers broke the school record – set by Jim Leman with 32 wins in the 1982-83 season – as Hector recorded a 37-5 record and Tito a 35-5 mark. If the Coloms continue at that pace, both will shatter Chiro Fred’s all-time mark of 128 victories with ease.

Hector pinned 21 opponents in the 2012-13 season and tied Ed Ruiz’s single-season mark in the process. The younger Colom is destined to break Fred’s mark of 58 career pins long before his senior year.

In one season, Tito tied the Marauders’ mark of five career tournament titles while Hector’s right behind with four.

Once again: Tito’s a freshman and Hector’s a seventh-grader who turned 12 during the season.

“He probably will break (the Dunkirk career wins record) by ninth grade,” McMurdy said regarding Hector. “He will have a shot to be one of the top in all of New York State for career wins.”

Both wrestlers were undefeated at the 105-pound weight class, with Tito’s losses coming at 113 and Hector’s at 99.

There were no complaints about the stresses of making weight from either Colom.

“Our guys were cheering each other on and this year we were able to beat three or four of the top teams in Western New York and it’s a result of what both boys have done,” McMurdy said. “They were more than willing to move up a weight class or two to wrestle whoever. They’ve very level-headed kids and that’s what made the transition easy.”

Hector claimed the Niagara County Community College Invitational in December while Tito won both the Ripley Invitational and Salamanca Wrestling Tournament in January. The Coloms also took individual titles at the Cattaraugus-Little Valley Invitational later that month.

The duo came from New Jersey with a wrestling resume as part of the Scorpions Academy, touting victories in tournaments throughout the Northeast. The Coloms immediately impressed on a team that certainly needed the attention: the Dunkirk wrestling program is five years removed from a 20-year hiatus.

“Being a real young team and with a lot of the kids we already had coming back, (the Coloms) ended up showing them different training techniques to help their season and their careers,” McMurdy said.

Many of those techniques undoubtedly came from the Cobra Wrestling Academy, a Depew-based gym where the brothers currently hone their sporting craft in the offseason. This weekend, both Coloms are competing at the New York’s Wrestling Association for Youth (NYWAY) State Finals in Ithaca after winning the Far West Regionals at NCCC last weekend.

Not surprisingly, the lessons learned on the travel circuit translate to success on the high school level – even if Hector isn’t facing opponents from outside his age group.

“They do the state tournament and they travel all over for the national tournaments,” McMurdy said. “(Hector’s) wrestling 12-year-olds … he’s going to do really, really well. He’s done well in the past already.”

The Coloms’ success had led to McMurdy partnering with the Cobra Wrestling Academy to open Cobra South for youngsters from around Chautauqua County. The first camp is set for this spring.

“I think we have eight or nine that are working in the offseason with Cobra now,” McMurdy said. “They’re continuing in the offseason, which will be huge for these guys. Getting Cobra here was a big thing for us because it allows our kids to catch up with a lot.”

Along with the alliance with Cobra, it’s a promising sign for McMurdy’s team that the Coloms have an eye on the future of the program as a whole.

“Tito is extremely mature for a freshman,” McMurdy said. “He’s also a young freshman, but I think they like the way the program’s going and they like the new kids. Both of them noticed a huge improvement (throughout the season). They’re very team-oriented.

“(Hector’s) really young,” McMurdy continued. “He’s only going to get more mature. When it comes to wrestling, he takes it very seriously. He’s also very willing to help.”