Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

Provo, Taylor Win National Wrestling Championships

John Nash

Two Greens Farms Academy wrestlers won national titles and five earned All-American honors over the weekend at the 2021 National High School Coaches Association National Tournament in Virginia Beach, Va.

Senior Nico Provo won the national championship in the Senior Division 126-pound weight class and Nate Taylor won the Freshman Division title at 160 pounds.

Joining this duo as All-American wrestlers were seniors Justin Mastroianni, who finished second at 145 pounds, and CJ Shea, who finished sixth at 132, and junior Mikey Bartush, who was third at 195 pounds.

“It means a lot,” Provo said. “It means a lot for GFA. It means a lot for my family. It means a lot to the university I’m going to, [Cornell]. It means a lot for my club team, Southside Wrestling. It’s bigger than me and that’s one of the coolest things about it.”

For Provo, winning his first national championship in a pandemic was especially memorable because he wasn’t originally planning to compete in the event. All that changed mid-week when FloArena, an online entity that publishes the results of meets, used Provo’s photo as part of its advertisement for the meet.

“I said, 'I guess I have to go,'” Provo laughed. 

Provo normally wrestles at 120 pounds and knew he wouldn’t be able to make weight in that class.

“We just said we’ll wrestle up a weight and have fun,” he said. “We just took it a match at a time and now I’m a national champion. It was a long time coming for me.”

Provo went 5-0 in the tournament courtesy of a tech fall, a major decision and three decisions.

In the championship match, Provo eked out a 3-1 win over Carter Bailey of California to win the national title.

"I think it's really cool," GFA wrestling coach Jack Conroy said. "Nico's been working for this for a long time. He wrestled with a lot of confidence this weekend and felt like it was his time."

Mastroianni took second at 145 pounds, winning four matches (one by pin, two by decision one by a major decision) to reach the finals. In that match, he was pinned at the 3:59 mark to earn runner-up accolades.

Bartush, wrestling at 195 pounds, took a tough road to his third-place finish. He lost in the Round of 16 and had to win six consolation matches to earn third place.

“He’s tough,” Provo said of his junior teammate. “You have to be tough in this sport. Sometimes you lose early, but part of our mindset is to score that next point, wrestle that next match. Just go out and give your best effort and he does that every time.”

Bartush got revenge on the wrestler who knocked him into the consolation round by beating him 6-0 in their second match up.

"Mikey's a tough kid and when he sets his mind on something and the snowball starts rolling, look out," Conroy said.

Shea advanced all the way to the semifinals with three straight wins before falling. In the consolation round, though, the senior slipped to sixth.

A big story for the Dragons, though, was Taylor’s road to the Freshman Division championship.

After a first-round pin in his first match, Taylor outpointed his opponents 25-3 over the next three matches.

He took the championship with a 10-0 major decision.

“I wasn’t a freshman national champion,” said Provo, who went 1-2 in this tournament as a ninth grader. "It’s a testament to Nate as a person and as a wrestler to come in during a year where so much was unknown. He comes in and works hard. I’m happy for him and proud of him.”

Added Conroy, "Nate's a stud. He's part of the future of this program. If he keeps buying in, he's got a great future."

The wrestlers were not representing GFA in the meet but were wearing their club colors.

Still, Provo said, every time a GFA wrestler steps on a mat they know they’re representing their school and their program.

“We took a picture outside and all of us had our GFA wrestling hoodies on,” Provo said. “We’re always representing GFA and taking that pride with us. We know everything we do reflects on GFA, both on the mat and off of it.”