Vikings' Matt Insogna lets record, accomplishments do the talking
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Tuesday, Feb. 04, 2014

Vikings' Matt Insogna lets record, accomplishments do the talking

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- COURTESY OF GEORGE INSOGNA
South Iredell High wrestler Matt Insogna, right, stands on the awards platform with North Henderson’s Mitchel Langford, center, and High Point Andrews’ Alphonso Martin at the NCHSAA 2A state individual tournament last year in Greensboro. Insogna lost to Langford in the 106-pound championship match, while Martin won the consolation final to take third place in the weight class.

Many athletes love to talk. But every now and then, an athlete will come along that simply lets his or her accomplishments speak for themselves.

Matt Insogna falls into that latter category.

A sophomore at South Iredell High, Insogna is in his second year wrestling at 106 pounds for the Vikings (29-4 through Jan. 28).

If you ask him a question, chances are you’ll get a direct answer. Insogna doesn’t ramble; things are kept to the point.

“He’s a pretty quiet kid,” said his father, George. “When you see him around, you wouldn’t peg him as a wrestler.”

However, with a career varsity record of 75-5, Insogna – who is also near the top of his class academically – is as tough a wrestler as you’ll come across in the area.

“He’s a very reserved young man,” said South Iredell assistant coach Brent Bustle. “He’s always wrestling. He played a little baseball growing up, but I think got a little bored with it, so he switched his focus to wrestling. He’s been a gym rat for most of his life.”

Insogna, who finished second in the state in class 2A at 106 pounds last season, got started with wrestling at age 5, largely by coincidence.

His father had gone down to the Mooresville Recreation Department to sign Matt’s older sister up for something when he noticed a flier on the bulletin board offering wrestling to kids as young as kindergarten age.

Having wrestled in high school himself, George signed Matt up.

“I learned a lot of valuable life lessons from wrestling and the hard work ethic I developed while playing has continued to pay off long after my wrestling career ended,” said George.

As Matt developed as a wrestler, George would videotape his matches; the two would go pick over them for things to make Matt even better.

Their best catch came when reviewing the tape from a match Matt had lost to West Caldwell’s Michael Lowe last season. They both noticed that Lowe appeared to tire quicker than Matt.

When Lowe and Insogna met again in the conference tournament later in the season, Matt knew exactly how he wanted to approach the match.

“We had noticed that he wasn’t in the best shape,” Matt said. “I knew I just had to push the match as long as I could and it worked out.”

Insogna advanced with a 6-4 overtime win.

As Matt continued his run deep into the postseason, a shoulder injury left him significantly less than 100 percent entering the state title match.

“He got slammed pretty good in the regionals,” Bustle said. “His (shoulder) was in bad shape, but that didn’t stop him from going out there. He didn’t want anyone to talk about him being a chicken or anything. He didn’t last long, but there was no way he wasn’t competing.”

“It was the state finals, anything could have happened,” said Matt, who faced off against North Henderson sophomore Mitchel Langford in the 106-pound state final. “I couldn’t really move my shoulder and I was in the trainers' room three or four times that day before the match trying to loosen it up.”

If he had been 100 percent?

“I definitely would have lasted longer,” said Insogna, who was pinned by Langford 28 seconds into the first round. “I’m not sure if I would have won because he’s an amazing wrestler.”

After spending the summer wrestling for the Iredell Rattlers club team, Insogna entered his sophomore season at 113 pounds.

However, it quickly became apparent that the Vikings didn’t have anyone on the team who could wrestle at 106 pounds. Immediately, Insogna began to cut weight and was ready to go at 106 by the start of the season.

“Coach said if it was too hard for me I wouldn’t have to do it,” he said. “But I knew the team didn’t have anyone else to put out there, so I did what I could to help my team.”

Asked what his favorite thing about wrestling is, Insogna response was true to form.

“Winning,” he said.

Seth Lakso is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Seth? Email him at sethlakso@gmail.com.

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