By Juan Herrera
Billy Rappo was born into the sport of wrestling. His four older brothers all wrestled at Council Rock South High School and in college. Rappo started wrestling at only 4 years old.
Whenever Rappo could, he would go into gymnasiums to watch his brothers wrestle. Even when his siblings went off to wrestle for Division I schools, Rappo was always watching and learning.
He trained with his brothers from an early age, taking a piece from each of their wrestling styles to craft his own. Once the time came for Rappo to wrestle in high school, he knew he had big shoes to fill.
“Coming up through Council Rock South, I had some things to take care of. My brothers won state titles, so I had some pressure on me to do that as well,” Rappo said. “Luckily I was able to do that.”
Now a redshirt senior on the Maryland wrestling team, the Holland, Pennsylvania, native has high hopes for his senior season. He finished the 2015-16 season with 17 individual wins, tied for second on the team. But Rappo wants more this year.
“I’m looking to do some big things,” Rappo said. “I’ve been training all summer and I’ve been training all of preseason, so I’m looking forward to it.”
This is also Rappo’s first year as a team captain. He said he looked up to former Maryland wrestler Jimmy Sheptock when he was team captain during his freshman year. Sheptock is currently an assistant coach for the Maryland wrestling team.
Now that Rappo is a captain, he hopes he can set a good example for the younger wrestlers. He wants to motivate the underclassmen to work hard, just like his predecessors did for him.
“Being an upperclassman, I got to show these little guys what it’s like,” Rappo said. “I’m just giving it my all.”
Rappo attributes a lot of his success in wrestling to his four older brothers Mike, Mark, Rick and Matt. He said his brothers messed with him when he was growing up, but it was never spiteful. Rappo said it made him tougher.
He also said his brothers helped him deal with the mental aspect of wrestling, which he explained is just as important as the physical aspect of the sport.
“They really helped me with my performance, pressure wise,” Rappo said. “When things are getting tough or when things don’t seem to be at the best, they’ve always been there to back me up.”
Outside of wrestling, Rappo said he’s just like any other college kid. He enjoys hanging out with friends, going hiking and playing video games.
Rappo mentioned he would do these things more often if he wasn’t wrestling. Although the sport is intense and demanding, Rappo said he would never give up wrestling for something else. It has done so much for him.
“[Wrestling] gave me that mentality of never giving up, working hard and always rebounding,” he said. “You have bad days, but you have to push through it.”
With the start of the season just around the corner, Rappo said he has high expectations for the team. He said the team is young, but it has worked hard during the summer to improve. He expects this team to do a lot better than last year when it only won five matches.
In terms of personal goals, Rappo said he only has one individual goal for this season: to be an All-American at the 144-pound weight class.
“That’s all I got. It’s my one goal. It’s my one mindset,” Rappo said. “So that’s what I’m going to do.”