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October 18, 2004

Wrestler seeks help with dream

From: Marquette Mining Journal, United States - Oct 18, 2004

By KURT MENSCHING, Journal Sports Writer

MARQUETTE - Friends say Bryce Gertino is the type of person who will do anything to help someone in need. Now Gertino needs a little help himself.

Gertino is a deaf Greco-Roman wrestler from Marquette who qualified to represent the United States in January at the 2005 Deaflympics in Sydney, Australia.

He won a qualifying tournament at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., to gain the honor.

His trip will cost him $4,500 and he has been able to raise the first $1,500 himself.

A spaghetti dinner fund-raiser will be held 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Harvey Inn to help him pay the remaining $3,000 cost of the trip.

Gertino was interviewed using an online instant message service.

He said the support of the community is helpful.

"I can feel that I will win the gold medal and show the deaf sports (competitors) that they can do (the) same thing," Gertino said. "And help my experiences. It's spiritual to me."

His friend and co-worker, Julie Thompson, said the chance to represent his family and country means everything to him.

"He's very dedicated to his sport," she said. "He never misses practice or training. He's astute about his diet. He's going through extra-hard training sessions because a lot has to do with verbal communication."

She said part of his drive is the desire to overcome his disability.

Gertino suffered full hearing loss after an illness he had at age 18 months, he said.

Now he uses hand gestures to help those around him understand what he means.

He can read lips, but also writes notes when needed.

He has a translator, Tracy Moore, who assists him when she can.

"He really wants to be a part of the normal, everyday world," Thompson said. "He doesn't want to be treated any differently. He wants to pull his weight."

She said at work Gertino works with developmentally disabled adults, and his fiance's son is deaf.

"He's very involved with this little boy," Thompson said.

Gertino has been wrestling for 18 years, since age 8.

He has wrestled Greco-Roman for just over two years now.

United States Olympic Education Center wrestling coach Ivan Ivanov has been Gertino's coach for that time.

The two met when Gertino was living in Salt Lake City, he said.

After an invitation from Ivanov and USOEC director Jeff Kleinschmidt, Gertino works out with the Greco Roman team at the USOEC five days a week.

"I think he has great athletic abilities," Ivanov said. "His technique surprised me. Training with athletes here at the USOEC, national and international champions, is going to be a great opportunity for him. Definitely he is in the right environment now."

Ivanov said communication is not a problem.

"He reads lips great," he said. "He loves to work out hard. He's a hard worker, a great partner. He's disciplined. He comes here to work. He likes to be with us. I love him to be here."

Gertino said he likes the challenge Greco Roman wrestling presents, "because it's very tough and (I) like to pick up and throw."

Beside the spaghetti dinner, Gertino also accepts donations in his name mailed to: 2005 U.S. Deaflympics Team, USA Deaf Sports Federation, Re: Athlete Bryce Gertino, 102 North Krohn Place, Sioux Falls, SD 57103-1800.

Copyright © 2004 –The Mining Journal