Holley honors retiring wrestling coach who set state record for wins

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 March 2019 at 9:46 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: John Grillo accepts an award from Brenda Swanger, president of the Board of Education.­­ Grillo is retiring as coach.

HOLLEY – John Grillo was praised by Holley school officials this evening for a distinguished career that includes a state record 796 wins as a wrestling coach.

Grillo’s achievements as a coach are an “unparalleled record as a professional,” said Brian Bartalo, the district superintendent.

Bartalo joined Holley this year after working in the Hilton school district. Even at Hilton, Grillo is well regarded for building such a strong program at Holley, and for his relationships with other coaches and the wrestling community, Bartalo said.

Grillo’s achievements were highlighted during the Board of Education meeting this evening, including 16 times the Genesee Region coach of the year, five times the Section 5 coach of the year, and a finalist for national coach of the year. His teams also won 20 GR league titles and 12 Sectional championships.

But even more importantly, Grillo was a great role model for the athletes and helped many succeed off the mat as well, said Dan Courtney, the school’s athletic director.

“The numbers are mind blowing,” Courtney said about Grillo’s achievement as a coach. “But it’s not just the wins and losses.”

Grillo said he was proud of this year’s combined Holley and Kendall team which won the sportsmanship award for Section 5 for the first time in his career. Grillo said that award is a tribute to the wrestlers, the parents and the fans in the community.

Grillo also thanked the Holley school district for backing the wrestling program through the years.

“Thank you for bringing me in,” he said. “I know I was a pain in the rump at times, but you always supported me in doing what we had to do to build the program. Thank you for all you’ve done for me and your support over the years.”

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