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Following a 2010 sophomore wrestling season that saw him capture an individual SCC Championship and placing fourth at the Class L state meet, Noah Criscuolo was heading for even higher expectations when he entered the second half of his high school career as he was named co-captain for that upcoming campaign. However, it was a devastating tragedy he suffered that summer which would truly test Noah's courage while also shining a light on his character as not only an athlete, but also as a person.
A split femur, separated shoulder, collapsed lung, along with multiple cuts and abrasions-these were the injuries Noah sustained following a car accident the summer before his junior year at Guilford. As it seemed these injuries would keep him off the mat for his third year, there was still a possibility that Noah could ultimately compete that season. While it was not in the cards following failed bone growth in the femur, Noah used the additional setback as fuel to the growing fire inside of him to get back to his former self. The senior used the blaze to spark his full return to wrestling as he now prepares to grapple for the Indians as captain this winter.
"When I learned I wouldn't be back for my junior year, I just used it as motivation for a better comeback this season," says Noah, who endured three separate surgeries for his femur. "I was originally scheduled to be cleared Nov. 1 of this year, but I was cleared earlier after a checkup in August."
Being ahead of his own scheduled rehabilitation, Noah feels he is leaps and bounds beyond where he was before the incident. Facing tremendous adversity and rising above it, he kept himself going through athletics with friends and pushing himself further than he has in the past.
"I feel I am past where I was two years ago and mentally stronger, as well. I have been training harder than ever for this season," says the senior, who also wrestles with a club team in Rocky Hill. "[On his rehab regiment] Once I could do it again, I just found time with friends to stay active and build muscle back up through playing soccer."
With the past behind him and the surgeries a thing of yesterday, the newly healthy Noah is ready to use what he has gathered from the long rebuilding process to bring the Indians closer to their first SCC and Class L titles in several years. Coming out of a huge accident with a stronger mindset of being able to handle anything, Noah has big goals for both his team and himself.
"We have very high expectations as a team this season," says Noah. "I have the added personal goals of going undefeated, repeating as an All-State wrestler, and reaching All-New England honors."
Considering all the time and effort Noah has taken on his road to recovery, his coach knows that the entire experience of the past 18 months has made Noah a stronger person to lead the Indians into competition.
"Noah has done a lot of soul searching through his recovery and while working extremely hard getting back up to speed," says Coach Craig Vedrani. "I am very proud of Noah's determination and focus and am looking forward to seeing him compete. With this time off the mat a fire has been burning inside him, which I feel has mentally prepared him more than ever."
Defying multiple odds to simply get back to the sport for his final season at Guilford, Noah has learned a great deal about perseverance and rising up through the clouds in the face of detractors who doubt your achievement of personal objectives.
"There were a number of people who didn't expect me to be on this level," says Noah, who thanks physical therapist Steve Platt, trainer Rob Mangino, his family and friends for his success and motivation. "I learned through all of this that no one can tell you what you are capable of. You just have to go out and prove yourself."