North Rockland High School
Class of 1985
There have been many great wrestlers to come out of Rockland County but only 14 have had the distinction of being a New York State high school champion. Phil Consiglio is one of those select 14. In 1984, his junior year, Phil became Rockland’s first state champion since 1975. In that tournament, Phil’s weight class was loaded with two returning state titleholders. Phil defeated one of them in the semifinals and his opponent defeated the other, setting up a final match that no one expected. Phil defeated fellow junior Paul Lamphier of Canandaigua, 7-1, to claim the 105-pound title.
In fact, all four years of Phil’s high school career he made it to the podium in the New York State wrestling championship tournament, held in Syracuse. As a freshman and sophomore he placed sixth, and in his senior year, 1985, he finished a very respectable third. He defeated the same opponent he wrestled the year before in the finals, Paul Lamphier, 14-3, in the consolation round for third place. Along the way, Phil was a four-time Rockland County and Section 9 champion. He placed in all 26 tournaments his team entered over four years, and won 19 of them. Phil finished his career with 132 victories, breaking the previous Rockland County record of 106 by a huge margin. He wound up with a record of 132 wins and only 13 losses.
“Winning the states in 1984, it was the win that put me on the map,” Phil said, when asked which accomplishment he was most proud of. He also cited winning the County tournament and making All-State as a freshman as major thrills. At the time, only 25 or so wrestlers from New York State had ever earned four All-State designations.
Out of Season, Still A Champion
In the off-season Phil continued to train and wrestle competitively. He was a two-time Eastern Regional freestyle titleholder and the Cadet Greco-Roman national champion in 1983. In the Eastern Regionals that year, his sophomore year, Phil pinned a future NCAA Div. I champion and the Pennsylvania state champ, Sean O’Day. “It was maybe the best I ever wrestled,” he recalled. The Regionals were a qualifying tournament for a training camp to the schoolboy world championships. At that camp he won the wrestle-offs and represented the USA in the Greco-Roman schoolboy world championships. At the Worlds, he won one of two matches.
In 1984 Phil was voted onto the Gatorade All-America team and in 1985 was chosen for the Scholastic Wrestling sixth-team All-American. Locally, he was voted North Rockland wrestling team MVP for three years. In 1984 Phil was a Westchester Rockland Newspapers Top Ten Award winner and also received the 1984 Rockland County CYO Meritorious Award. In 1985 he was the Rockland County Athlete of the Season in the winter, the unanimous choice as Most Outstanding Wrestler in the County tournament, and the Most Valuable Wrestler in the Section 9 tourney.
A Brother’s Inspiration
Phil got into wrestling through his brother Michael, who wrestled for Clarkstown North back when the Consiglio family lived in New City before moving to Stony Point. Phil would tag along with Michael at tournaments and “roll around the mats” with other kids before Michael’s match started. He would also wrestle his other brother, Peter, on their living room floor. Peter would play the role of Joey Goldsmith, Ramapo’s two-time state champion, and Phil would play his brother Michael.
When Michael Consiglio died of a massive heart attack at age 21 in 1977, the traumatic event triggered a spark in Phil, who was 10 at the time. Wrestling was the common bond that brought Phil closer to Michael. “It was a defining moment in my career,” said Phil, who lost another brother, Richard, to a heart attack 14 years ago. “Wrestling helped bring our family past this. There was a connection to my brother through wrestling.”
Contributing to the Rise of the Red Raider
Phil began wrestling as a seventh grader at Farley Middle School in Stony Point, under Coach Lou Avino. He also wrestled for the mat club started by his dad, Al Consiglio. In high school, coaches Jerry McGuire and Roman Rodriguez expertly guided Phil through his progression to state prominence. Rodriguez, a former North Rockland grappler, wrestled with the lower-weight wrestlers in practice. He taught Phil the “crab ride,” a leg ride move that Phil perfected en route to his state championship. Teammate Jose Munoz was another major influence on Phil, pushing him hard in workouts during Phil’s sophomore season. When Phil was a freshman, seniors Joey Santiago and Benny Blackwell welcomed him to the team. “I felt special because usually freshmen get picked on but they both protected me,” said Phil, who stands 5-foot-5. He also credited Coach Bucky Rehain with teaching him the value of wrestling in the off-season. Phil had met him through Coach Tom Canty’s camp at Rockland Community College.
Who was Phil’s toughest adversary in high school? Suffern’s John Canty. “He was as tough a customer as I ever wrestled,” said Phil, a North Rockland Sports Hall of Fame inductee. “He was so explosive. We pushed each other to be better. When I beat him my junior year it was right after he won the Kohl tournament [when Canty defeated two state champions]. Winning that match gave me the confidence needed to win the states later that season.”
After his ultra-successful high school career, Phil was awarded a full wrestling scholarship to Syracuse University, where he made the varsity team as a true (non-redshirted) freshman. During that season he went 10-9 and was voted most valuable wrestler in a dual meet against powerhouse Lehigh University. Perhaps his finest match was a close 18-16 loss to two-time NCAA Div. I runner-up Dennis Semmel of Army in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) quarterfinals.
Phil was ruled academically ineligible after his first year at Syracuse. He then transferred to Central Connecticut State, where he received financial aid amounting to just short of a full scholarship. The combination of challenging academics and Division I wrestling proved a bit too difficult, however, prompting Phil’s departure from school in the middle of second semester. He worked for a brief period building fences for Yaboo Fence in West Nyack before launching a career in the video business in 1987, at a small post-production facility in New York City.
Career Success, Family Felicity
Phil worked at ABC-TV for a short time, while concurrently working at CBS, where he continued to work until 2004. He joined NBC Universal in 1993 and has spent 29 years with the organization. Phil started as a videotape operator, moved up to on-air supervisor, and has been an on-air systems engineer for the past 14 years. His engineering training came from taking system networking classes in his free time. “I literally trained myself for the position by staying after work and learning about our systems,” he said. Phil won an Emmy Award for his video editing for CBS Sports at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
Phil, who’s 54, resides in Clifton, N.J., with his wife of 24 years, Beth-Ann (Falk), and son, Carson, a sophomore at George Washington University majoring in pre-law. Outside of work and family, Phil remains deeply involved in the sport of wrestling as the director and head coach of the Clifton Recreation Junior Mustang wrestling program. He also established the wrestling program at the Clifton Boys and Girls Club, leading the team to numerous Passaic County championships. “I like being able to give back to the kids,” Phil said. “I can’t say enough good things about what wrestling has done for me and continues to do for me.”
The rigors of training and conditioning for competitive wrestling have served Phil well throughout his life, he said. “Wrestlers have a saying that we run more miles than a runner, lift more weights than a weightlifter, and all the while losing more weight than someone on weight watchers. The dedication needed for wrestling has carried over into my career and set me up for future success.”