PARAMUS, N.J. — Paramus wrestler Brian Bonino was so close he could feel it.
Bonino (195) had only one more opponent to defeat in the final round of wrestle backs at the 2016 NJSIAA championships — and he lost.
It didn't seem fair. All his hard work and his victories seemed to have amounted to nothing.
But Bonino says he's been training harder than ever with one goal in mind."I want to go on top of the podium," said the senior, who is seeded sixth in the state.
Bonino lost to DePaul's Brandon Kui — his greatest competition — at Beast of the East 2016.
But the Spartan also took first place at county championships, which he said made him want to work even harder.
"That made me realize what my goals are," said Bonino, a four-year athlete on the school's varsity football team.
It showed him his strength. It proved he could really do it.
Ever since that win, Bonino has been putting in the extra work to earn himself a spot at this year's NJSIAA wrestling championships next month in Atlantic City.
"I've never wrestled in the off-season," he said. "But I've been putting in a lot of time in the practice room and the weight room."
Bonino spends his study periods in the weight room building his strength. He's been staying a couple minutes longer after practice to work closer with his coaches.
His partner in practice has been longtime Coach Chris Falato, who last year saw then-junior Kyle Cochran earn Paramus its first state title since 1982 at the buzzer .
Despite all Bonino's hard work on the mat, he knows he's also got to train his mind.
"I just have to keep quiet and focus on the task ahead," Bonino said. "One match at a time."