Meet the Champs: Putnam Valley’s Willie Messinger



The Messinger family has been instrumental in the development of the Putnam Valley wrestling program, and their third son just added to that legacy with his first section title. Junior Willie Messinger strung a few upsets together to win the Division 2 170-pound as the fourth seed, pinning Nanuet’s Alex Slaybaugh for the championship. Before Willie, older brothers Ray and John had made their mark for a new Tigers program, with John finishing up as an All-State wrestler by his senior year. Now Willie’s time has come.

Here are his thoughts:

How did you get started with wrestling? My oldest brother Ray started with modified when I was in fourth grade, and I followed and started with a bunch of different youth programs.

What is it that you love about the sport? What you put in is what you get out. You don’t have to be the most athletic, you just have to work the hardest.

Describe what was going through your head when the referee raised your hand after the finals: I was just happy to get over a season long slump, and to get my first section title the way my brother John did.

What was the most difficult obstacle that you had to overcome this season? Many different injuries, and adjusting to the new weight class.

What area do you feel that you’ve improved in the most over the course of the season? My positioning. I’m confident in scrambles now and I feel like I can consistently come out on top in strange situations.

What are you like off of the mat? Stud on and off the mat.

What is playing in your headphones while you get ready for a match? Before big matches I listen to the 50 Shades of Gray audio book, or the soundtrack to the Lion King.

What is your favorite food? The souls of my enemies.

Name one thing that’s interesting about you that people may not know about: I have a tattoo of (coach) Willie Carano’s face on my upper thigh.

CLICK HERE to watch video of Messinger’s pin in the final

I’ll be running these “Meet the Champs” posts everyday leading up to states. I emailed all of the section champs that I had information, but if you didn’t receive one for some reason and would like to be included, please email me at

Photo by Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News


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