“Don’t Sleep On Me,

I Got Big Plans.”

-Elizabeth Folakemi

Santino Sloboda is a name Pa wrestling fans already know. It’s a name a lot of folks know nationally. He’s an insanely accomplished wrestler in a state that most will acknowledge is the best in the country. Sloboda’s  wrestling career started at five years old. He was a highly energetic child and needed an outlet. Wrestling was the perfect sport for him. Santino stated, “I played a lot of  sports as a kid, I settled on wrestling in seventh grade.” He found success throughout his youth wrestling career. Santino placed six times in the Pennsylvania Junior State Tournament, a runner up twice. In Pa, that’s a big deal. This was a building block for Santino. He worked hard, big plans, don’t sleep on this guy.

He took his talents to the Quest Wrestling Club. Along with his school coaches, Sloboda developed a style and pace that would shoot him to the top of the PA State rankings in high school. He credits coach Jim Akerly and practice partners, Luke  Willochell (Greater Latrobe) and Antonio Boni (Central Valley) among others for the gains he has made in high school. Iron sharpens iron. It’s a common phrase in wrestling. It’s common because it’s  true. The best seek the best coaches and the best partners. It’s an attitude that elite competitors just have.

Santino would turn his freshman year into a great one. He finished with a record of 40-3, finishing 4th in the state. That wasn’t good enough for him. He wasn’t getting slept on, he wasn’t done. Santino continued to work, he credits his team and coaches for pushing him even further. He worked relentlessly. He bumped around weights to find the best competition. “Some guys are good with wins, I want wins over the best guys. If I lose, it happens, but I want the best competition.” That’s Santino’s mindset. He’s a competitor, a winner, a guy that constantly wants to get better. PA, don’t sleep on this guy. Hell, the country shouldn’t sleep on this guy. He’s dangerous, the perfect mix of skills  and mindset. He’s got a great support system that he credits for keeping him grounded. “ I owe so much to my family, they support me so much through rough times. They are always there for me, that’s a comforting feeling knowing I can always turn to them.”

When asked what the WPIAL means to him, Sloboda acknowledged that he realizes that he wrestles in arguably the best region in the country. “It’s definitely a nice prep for other tournaments and even club duals. I wrestle some of the best guys in the country every week.” It’s definitely a benchmark, if you’re a top guy in the WPIAL, you’re usually a top guy in the country. Look at the success within the region. It speaks for itself. He hopes to be a name that someday people talk about long after his high career has ended.

Sloboda stated that he doesn’t have a particular college in mind yet. As a guy that will likely finish high school with 140 plus wins, colleges better come ready to get this guy. He’s a dude that any university would cherish, mature beyond his years, well spoken, hard worker. He has big plans. Saying Santino will be a huge addition to any college room is an understatement, he’s a winner that will bring that mentality to any team. Get him early, acknowledge how hard he works and what an asset he’ll be to your program. You won’t regret it. Don’t sleep on this guy.

The scariest thing about Santino Sloboda is the fact that he has two more years left in high school. He hasn’t even peaked yet. Buy his stock now, sit back and collect all the gains he’ll make you. Get used to the name. He’s a guy. What’s even better than his wrestling ability is the person that he is. Humble, intelligent, hard working. He’s a young man that instantly makes any program better. Don’t sleep on him, he has big plans.

Sloboda’s sophomore post season run starts this weekend. Follow it, you won’t be disappointed. Watch him when he makes his return to the Giant Center in Hershey. Big things are definitely coming out of this Butler High School student athlete. I suggest you not sleep on this man,  he’s got big plans for the future.

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Meet Todd Wightman

Based in Western PA. Right in the heart of WPIAL country, Todd brings an insider’s view from the country’s epicenter  of wrestling. He’s excited to build on the TKDWN tradition of starting with the story first. The athletes, the coaches, their families and supporters, there is no shortage of stories to tell. And Todd will bring his unique perspective to help us continue to deliver top notch content for the world’s greatest sport!