Written by Andy Newman Friday, 08 March 2013 00:00
The awards and accolades keep flowing for Great Neck South High School’s most accomplished wrestler since 1979, Chris Koo. But the one prize that Koo covets the most is the national championship coming up in April in Virginia. And beyond that, he’s got his eyes set on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Koo, a 5-10 17 year old senior, is already a two time National High School Coaches Association All-American, placing sixth as a sophomore in the 145 pound division and seventh last year as a 160 pound competitor. After winning the Nassau County title at 152 pounds and finishing second in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships, Koo became the first Rebel wrestler to place so high since Mark Balter represented Great Neck South almost 35 years ago at 145 pounds.
In addition, Koo’s Nassau title earned him the distinction of being the first ever champion of Korean heritage in either Nassau or Suffolk. Competing in tournaments in December at Bethpage and Massapequa, he was named “most outstanding wrestler” by the participating coaches.
Koo’s own coach, Ryan Pingitore, has high praise for his star. “He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever known,” said Pingitore, who’s coached the Rebels for the past five years and was an assistant at Bellmore JFK and Plainview-JFK before that. “Chris has paved the way for our program to be successful,” he added. “He’s my first four year guy,” referring to the fact that Koo first joined the team as a freshman. Chris’ career record is 120-17, with most of those losses coming in his first two years. As a junior he was 38-1 and this year he is 41-1.
Koo takes his wrestling seriously and wants to continue at a Division One school next year. “My dad introduced me to wrestling and put me in a kiddy program when I was in the fourth grade, “ he said. “Wrestling is my life,” he added. “I would really like to wrestle in 2016 at Rio. I can really see myself being around the sport for a long time.” Koo has applied to North Carolina State, the University of Maryland, the University of Buffalo and state universities at Brockport and Binghamton. He’s hoping for scholarship offers too.