JACKSON – Individual honors for New Jersey high school wrestlers will be on the line when the NJSIAA super region tournaments begin on April 16.
In a season that was shortened by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the NJSIAA will not hold the traditional district tournaments which kick off individual post-season action.
Instead, wrestlers have been seeded into super region tournaments around the state and will try to win their way to the individual state tournament that will be held in Phillipsburg on April 24-25.
Several wrestlers from Jackson Memorial High School and Jackson Liberty High School in Jackson have been selected to participate in the super region tournament that will be held at Hunterdon Central High School in Flemington.
Jackson Memorial has three seniors who are primed to make a run at a state tournament berth.
Luke Temple (126) will try to become a two-time state tournament qualifier and close out his high school career by winning a medal. Temple went 4-2 in six matches during the regular season.
“Luke is a very good technical wrestler,” Coach Doug Withstandley said. “It’s helped him win some tough matches.”
Seniors Brett Blaess (120) and Rob Lagravenis (170) will also try to wrestle their way through the region tournament and into the state tournament.
Blaess won 30 matches during the 2019-20 season and placed sixth in the regional tournament. Withstandley said Blaess’ goal this week is to advance to the state tournament.
Lagravenis was a region qualifier in 2019-20 and had a terrific regular season for the Jaguars, going 10-0 with six pins.
Senior Nick White (152) and junior Mike Rauch (182) have also qualified for the super region tournament for the Jaguars.
White and Rauch each won a district title a year ago and qualified for the region tournament.
Also selected to compete at the Hunterdon Central super region tournament for the Jaguars were junior George Ebid (138), sophomore Lucas Lipari (113), and freshmen Jason Seda (106) and Kael Huxford (132).
Jackson Memorial went 5-5 in dual meets during the abbreviated 2021 season and Withstandley said he was pleased his wrestlers had a chance to compete during a campaign that was unlike anything that had ever occurred before.
For Jackson Liberty High School, the 2021 campaign was the squad’s first under new head coach Devin Biscaha.
Biscaha, who wrestled at Jackson Memorial during his scholastic career, won an NCAA Division III national championship at 157 pounds while wrestling at Springfield College.
Biscaha’s first year at the helm of the Lions was a great experience for the new coach, who said his wrestlers improved a lot during the campaign and posted a 7-5 record in dual meets.
“We have a great group of young wrestlers. We have a bright future ahead of us,” he said.
Freshman Anthony Urso made a huge impact on the lineup at 106 pounds. Urso went 10-2 and Biscaha called him “the best wrestler of the team.”
Urso has been selected to compete in the super region tournament at Hunterdon Central and will be joined by his teammate, sophomore Jake Klein (170).
Klein qualified for the region tournament in 2020 as a freshman. This season he was 8-2 while competing at 170 and 182 pounds. Klein will compete at 170 pounds at the super region tournament.
Senior Steven Schmitz (160) and sophomore Chimdindu Molokwu (220) have also been selected to compete in the super region tournament for the Lions.
Instead of the traditional eight region tournaments that are held in New Jersey in the week that follows the district tournaments, this season the NJSIAA will conduct four super region tournaments (combining two regions at each super region site).
Committees have selected the wrestlers who will compete at the super region tournaments.
The top four place-winners in each weight class at the super region tournaments will advance to the state tournament that will be held at Phillipsburg High School on April 24-25 to conclude the 2021 season.