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Howell’s Keosseian and Ocean’s Benner win state wrestling championships

Kyle Slendorn of Howell defeats Matt Sacco of Bridgewater-Raritan in the 113 lb. weight class in the semi-finals of the NJSIAA State Group team wrestling championships at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River on Feb 14.

Eric Keosseian of Howell High School claimed the 220-pound championship and Jake Benner of Ocean Township High School captured the 138-pound division on March 5 when the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s state wrestling tournament championships were staged before a crowd of 10,087 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

Keosseian pinned Peter Acciardi of Don Bosco Prep High School in 2:23 in the final, while Benner trimmed Gerard Angelo of Bergen Catholic High School, 7-6, in the title bout. Angelo had won a state title two years ago at 106 pounds while he wrestled at Hanover Park High School.

Benner was named the co-winner of the Outstanding Wrestler award. He shared the elite honor with Mekhi Lewis of Bound Brok High School, who won the 160-pound title.

Keosseian’s Howell teammate, Kyle Slendorn, fell in the state championship round on March 5 in Atlantic City. Slendorn was defeated by Nick Raimo of Hanover Park, 10-4, in the 126-pound title bout. Keosseian and Slendorn had led Howell to the state Group V team championship last month.

Another local wrestler who also reached the state championships was Woodbridge High School’s Alexander LaGrippo, who was pinned in the heavyweight final in 51 seconds by Eric Chakonis of Don Bosco Prep. Chakonis also won the state title at heavyweight last season.



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