Christopher Bernard, 18, a Country Club resident and senior at Stepinac High School, has fond memories of growing up reading about his uncles and father wrestling.
But now it is his time to sweat, to pin and to shine.
Bernard, who is co-captain of his team, placed fifth in the state at the New York High School Wrestling Tournament in Albany this year in the 160-pound division.
“I’ve always looked up to my dad and uncles with wrestling,” Bernard said. “It was always pretty cool to see them wrestle. They all have a bunch of old articles written about them, and it was something I’ve always enjoyed looking at. It is definitely something that I knew I wanted to try when I was younger.”
Bernard said he joined the grapplers when his coach, Rick Lee, started the team. Bernard was a sophomore at the time.
“I always liked combat sports,” he said. “When I was at Villa Maria Academy, I used to box. I have done that for six years, but I figured I would wrestle when I got to high school, so when we got a team, I knew I wanted to do that.”
In addition to wrestling, Bernard was also a member of the varsity soccer team at Stepinac High School and a member of the National Honor Society.
When the high school senior isn’t busy with school or sports, he said he likes to read, hang out with friends, and play sports like basketball for fun.
Bernard said placing fifth in the state of New York was a nice reward for the hard work he put in during practice.
“I’m really happy because all of my hard work paid off,” he said. “It’s a good honor and I am definitely happy about it.”
Bernard said he is grateful to his coach for teaching him everything he knows about wrestling.
“Coach Rick is just a really cool guy,” he said. “He loves wrestling and he really cares about all of us. He always tries his best to help us be the best we can.”
Michael Bernard, Christopher’s father, said he was proud of all that his son has accomplished.
“I was absolutely proud,” Michael Bernard said. “I was a wrestler myself in high school and college, so I know how much of grueling sport it can be. I told him, don’t wrestle because I did; do it only if you want. And he did. He did it because he had a passion for it.”
Next year, Bernard will attend St. Francis College in Brooklyn on a partial academic scholarship.
Bernard said although the college does not have a wrestling program, he still plans to wrestle in his free time.
“I am still going to come down for tournaments and things like that,” he said. “But I will definitely miss it. Maybe I can start something at my college.”