Phillips Big Blue Wrestling '07-'08

Wrestling defines unique Cintron

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Monday, January, 21 By Dave Dyer
Staff writer

It's not difficult to see why Phillips Academy head coach Rich Gorham calls Hector Cintron a Lawrence success story. A senior 171-pounder who has been at the same weight class all four years, he sported a 24-6 record as a sophomore and was an impressive 30-8 last year, finishing third at the New England prep meet and winning three matches at the Prep Nationals. He is 12-1 for the Big Blue thus far this year.

You're not going to find many Lawrence residents enjoying great success on the wrestling team at the prestigious Andover prep school, but that's not the only thing that separates Cintron. With a 4.5 GPA out of a possible 6.0 and 1,850 SAT scores, he is a well-rounded student-athlete.

A casual guitar player who briefly played in a band, Cintron enjoys challenges, which is why he took a playwriting course even though he believes writing is not one of his strengths. But he spent seven hours writing a play he entitled "Different Accents," forcing him to miss one of the Big Blue's meets this year.

"I hated not wrestling, and it was the toughest thing having the team wrestle without me," said Cintron, who considers himself a physics geek and plans on majoring in electrical engineering in college. "But most of the team came to see my play and they seemed to like it, which made me feel really good."

Despite his athletic and academic successes, however, Cintron does not consider himself a Lawrence success story. He just feels he is one of the lucky ones.

"There are a lot of kids in Lawrence who are doing well and could do what I'm doing," said Cintron. "I just feel I've been incredibly lucky to be at Phillips and have the opportunities I've had."

For all his opportunities, it's wrestling that seems to get Cintron most excited. He first got interested in the sport by listening to his father, Hector Cintron Sr., who wrestled briefly at Whittier Tech as a high schooler. As an eighth grader at St. Mary's in Lawrence, Hector Jr. wrestled with the North Andover youth program and loved it.

His affection for the mat grew even more intense at Phillips, where as a freshman he was an occasional starter. "When I got a chance in wrestling, I wanted to make the most of it," said Cintron. "When I won my first match, I got my name in the school paper and it shocked me. But I thought it defined who I was.

"Before that, I was trying to fit in and maybe I was trying to be friends with everyone to do that. I can count the number of Lawrence kids (at Phillips) on one hand and I didn't want to feel like I stood out as different. I got in my mind that there needed to be something I was good at and wrestling became the thing.

"It's the greatest sport, and it's done a lot for me. It's given me a great work ethic and it's taught me that, when things get tough, to suck it up and keep going. It's been difficult at times, but a lot of kids look up to me and, when the ref raises my arm, it's all worth it.

"I love the fact that I have all the influence on the outcome of my match. In other sports, a lot has to do with team morale and momentum."

Cintron is so dedicated to wrestling that he plans on wrestling in college even if he attends his current top choice, Lehigh, which is a Division 1 national power. Other schools he is considering include Johns Hopkins and NYU. All three are, of course, elite academic schools.

"People ask me if I'd walk-on at Lehigh, like it'd be crazy to try, but I always say, 'Yeh,' " said Cintron. "It would just be another challenge for me."

And it's a challenge that Gorham believes Cintron can master.

"He's very serious about wrestling and I think he'll be a better college wrestler than he is now," said Gorham. "He's pretty driven and a real pleasure to have on the team."

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