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Three amigos who bonded on the mats PHOTO GALLERY

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Chippewa Valley grads enjoy coaching success

Three kids from the same wrestling club.

That club was based out of a church in Mount Clemens and was initially called the Bad Boys Wrestling Club.

Later, when sponsorship was secured, it became the Bad Boys All Sport Wrestling Club.

The club was founded by committed dads like Bob Palazzolo, Ed Skowneski and Vince Biondo. It was fueled by youngsters who took to the mat like teens take to smart phones these days.

“We had one mat,” recalled Rocky Palazzolo, the wrestling coach at Marysville. “It was full of holes. We had to have it reconditioned.”

Palazzolo, a 1999 Chippewa Valley grad, was named MHSAA Division 2 Coach of the Year after advancing to the team semifinals and crowning three state medalists and a state champion.

His Vikings got to Mount Pleasant. They made it to the semis before losing to Lowell, the eventual state champion. The Lowell Red Arrows have won four consecutive state team championships.

Ironically, Lowell varsity coach R.J. Boudro is also a Macomb County product. He attended Armada High School and was also a member of the same wrestling club as Palazzolo, Skowneski and Anthony Biondo.

Palazzolo, Skowneski and Biondo all attended Chippewa Valley.

“It’s hard to put into words. It was an incredible ride. I don’t want to say we were the unknowns, but nobody besides us knew what we were capable of. It was an amazing group of guys. They put the work in. It was the epitome of what a team is,” said Palazzolo.

After graduating from Chippewa Valley, he went to Eastern Michigan University where he also wrestled.

“When I was in the club, Eddie was younger and Anthony was just a little guy running around,” said Palazzolo, laughing. “R.J. Boudro was a member of the club, too. We were based out of Grace Episcopal Church in Mount Clemens. We started as the Bad Boys, but then Ed’s dad got a sponsor and we became the Bad Boys All Sports Wrestling Club.

“It is really cool to have all of us come from the same club and high school. We have history together. It was great all of us being at states and getting a chance to talk,” continued Palazzolo.

Biondo finished his sixth season as an assistant coach at CC after helping the Shamrocks to a three-peat in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and a Division 1 title in 2017. He has played a huge part in the school’s wrestlers winning 21 state titles in the last five years, including an impressive 17-0 in finals matches over four years.

“Coach Biondo is a catalyst here at CC,” said head coach Mitch Hancock. “He not only motivates our athletes, but he inspires our coaches with his intensity level and his drive to be successful. We are blessed to have him on our staff and as a member of the CC community.”

Biondo was a captain at the University of Michigan his junior and senior seasons in Ann Arbor.

He graduated from Chippewa Valley in 2006. He was a three-time state champion in high school (2003, ’04, and ’06) and placed third as a junior. His career record in high school was 207-9. He holds 13 Chippewa Valley records including career wins; single-season wins (57) and career falls (120).

“I was the youngest of all of us,” said Biondo. “When we first started with the club, it was the Bad Boys. Rocky was the kid we all looked up to. We were always close with him. Eddie and I are cousins, so we’ve been best friends all of our lives.

“When I was a junior and senior at Chippewa Valley, Rocky would drive in from Ypsilanti every day to work with me. We got really close after that. He did a lot for me,” continued Biondo.

“Wrestling creates a unique bond because it is such an intense, physical sport. When you have teammates who know what you are going through, that is something special. Wrestling is not an easy sport. It is rewarding, but not easy,” said Biondo.

Biondo and Skowneski were coached by John Jeffire at Chippewa Valley. Gary Brundirks was Palazzolo’s coach, but Palazzolo came back and coached with Jeffire for a few seasons.

“John Jeffire was a student of the sport. He instilled the qualities in all of us that have helped make us successful as coaches,” said Biondo.

Skowneski went on to wrestle at Michigan State after graduating from Chippewa Valley.

Skowneski is the head coach at Dakota. He was named MHSAA Division 1 Coach of the Year after his Cougars advanced to the state semifinals and seven of his wrestlers were medalists.

“It was a great group of kids,” said Skowneski. “There was great leadership on the team that allowed us to be successful. The kids would push each other in the practice room. Our goal was to win the state team championship and get as many individuals to states as well. Winning a match at team states was big for the program.”

His team lost to Davison, 37-21, in the semis. Dakota has reached the state quarters in four of the last five years. There were only three seniors in the Cougars’ starting lineup.

It’s a great memory, something Skowneski, Palazzolo and Biondo know plenty about.

“Anthony is my cousin. Rocky is a good friend of mine. We are from the same wrestling club and the same high school. I love the competition in wrestling. I love working out. But you know what, there’s the camaraderie when you wrestle with the same group of guys over the years. You build friendships with those people and that sticks with you,” said Skowneski.

Last Updated: 4/14/2017 6:34:30 PM EST