NEWPORT NEWS, VA (EHOURL)- Paul Pcsolinski helped elevate wrestling on the Peninsula and made everyone around him better. That’s what those close to him will share on Saturday.
Pcsolinski, who guided Menchville wrestling from 1972-1992, passed away in February at the age of 76 and will be honored during a Celebration of Life at Manhattan New York Deli in Newport News on Saturday. The ceremony begins at 2:00 PM and all are welcome to attend.
Frank Lipoli was the head coach at Bethel for six years and squared off with Pcsolinski’s Menchville teams. It was a rivalry that raised the bar in the Peninsula District. The Monarchs claimed the AAA state title in 1976, with Lipoli’s Bruins winning it all in 1977.
“We both were better, our teams were better, the region was better,” Lipoli recalled. “Menchville was steel and so was Bethel and we sharpened each other.”
During his time leading the Menchville program, Pcsolinski paced the Monarchs to 23 district titles, a pair of region championships and that 1976 state crown. No Peninsula District team has claimed state gold since those back-to-back championships by Menchville and Bethel. Fellow Peninsula schools and Bay Rivers District programs Tabb and Poquoson have claimed titles, most recently the Bull Islanders in 2021 (Class 2).
Lipoli remembers the showdowns between him and his counterpart well.
“They were truly wars and they just attracted people,” he noted. “If you didn’t come to the Bethel-Menchville wrestling match two hours early, you stayed in the parking lot and the whole wrestling community on the Peninsula embraced both of us.”
The former head Bruin will speak on Saturday during the tribute to Pcsolinski. He has a lot of stories he can share about their many encounters, but there was always mutual respect between the two giants of the sport.
“If there was one other person in the room that wasn’t him or me, it was WWE,” Lipoli laughed. “When there wasn’t anybody, he’d talk about his family and his kids. I was a young pup. I knew my place.”
Lipoli says Pcsolinksi is at the top of the list when it comes to wrestling figures in the 757. The head Monarch embraced the rivalry between the Peninsula and the Southside at the time and raised the profile of the former.
“When you look up in the encyclopedia ‘tenacity,’ there’s a picture of Paul Pcsolinski. He made us better just by how he did. His team was tough, they were rough and if you weren’t ready for the battle, you got bruised.”
Now it’s a chance for those close to him to honor his life and his legacy. The former Menchville coach was inducted into the Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame late last year and that will be one of just the many memories shared come Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a celebration of life, but I think it’s more a celebration of success and I’m lucky to be in that room,” Lipoli said. “I’m proud to be in that room.”