Pittsburgh Product Vincenzo Joseph On Coming Home, Big 10 Loss, and Primanti Brothers

PITTSBURGH, PA – Vincenzo Joseph spent his entire life in the City of Pittsburgh before heading to State College where the Penn State junior has won two National titles. Photo by Sam Janicki.

His third straight trip to Nationals will be a familiar drive home to the Steel City – and a not so pleasant routine – entering without a Big 10 Championship title. If there is one positive from last week’s 9-2 defeat to Iowa’s Alex Marinelli in the Big Ten 165 pound finals – he has come back to win it all twice before. In the last two seasons Vincenzo fell to Illinois’ now graduated Isaiah Martinez in the Big Ten Tournament – only to twice beat him a week later in the NCAA finals. 

According to Penn State coach Cael Sanderson – the location of NCAAs won’t have much of an impact on his Nittany Lion squad, including Joseph.

“I think our guys are focused enough – it doesn’t really matter where the tournament is. It’s the NCAA Tournament and you have so many matches and so many minutes to compete and you just have to make the most out of each second and each minute. Our guys have wrestled the same whether they’re home or on the road.”

It will be hard not to feel a level of excitement for many fans when the 53 Pennsylvania natives step on the mats inside PPG Paints Arena on Thursday afternoon. 

Vincenzo, a 2015 graduate of Central Catholic High School located in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, was a 4-time Pennsylvania High School State medalist including two State Championships in his final two seasons. Shortly after his second State title Joseph put on a takedown clinic in the prestigious Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic against Iowa’s Freddy Stroker, winning by major decision (14-4).

Although he has experienced success in Pittsburgh previously Vincenzo, like his head coach, is looking at it like he has the past two NCAA Tournaments.

“You know, it’s just another tournament.

I mean, yes Nationals is in Pittsburgh, which is really cool. You know, I’ve always thought it’d be cool to wrestle in that arena back at home and getting the opportunity to do that is just amazing and, like I said, I’m looking forward to it. It’s gonna be a pretty cool atmosphere, I think.”

Despite last week’s defeat Sanderson is confident Joseph can bounce back this week – yet again.

“I think he was pretty upset. There were some things that technically he needed to do differently that he didn’t. His opponent’s are very good. Without taking anything away from anybody, I think he’s okay with being at his best at Nationals.

I think that’s kind of the plan and he’s gonna have a tough road. Marinelli is a very, very good wrestler and he scored a lot of points against Vincenzo just a week ago and it’s going to be a great challenge for him.”

His entire career Vincenzo has wrestled in an almost relaxed state of not being afraid to mix it up and take chances. Part of that, no doubt, has to do with his mindset overall when it comes to wrestling.

“I mean it is hard to do, really, just not think about it. It’s not easy to sit here and think, ‘Oh, you know, Big Tens is over with, on to another tournament, just forget forget about it, pretend it never happened, because it did happen.

It is in the back of my mind and it motivates me a little bit but it helps me understand too that wrestling is just a sport. Of course, I hate losing; no one likes to lose, but at the end of the day it’s just a sport and you have the rest of your life.”

In addition to his mindset, Vincenzo should have a large support network around him in Pittsburgh. When asked if he will have more friends and family this time around Joseph stated, “Probably more than the past two years for Nationals just because I live there, but I haven’t really talked to too many of my family members about who’s coming because I’m just trying to focus on wrestling.”

Although he won’t be giving tours of Mount Washington over the weekend, Vincenzo did have some recommendations for his fellow State College residents when it comes to eating out in Pittsburgh.

“All I can tell you is that the Primanit’s in Pittsburgh, is just way better than the one in State College, quality food wise. It’s like two different places but, you know, there are a lot of places to go in Pittsburgh.”

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