When looking at the NJSIAA individual wrestling state champions from South Jersey, one thing clearly stands out – the junior class.
Three wrestlers from the seven-county South Jersey area won state title, all juniors. The South Jersey state champions were Antonio Mininno of Gateway at 113 pounds, Quinn Kinner of Kingsway (132) and Billy Janzer of Delsea (170).
Mininno defeated Robert Howard of Bergen Catholic, 4-3 in overtime. He finished with a 43-1 record. Kinner ended 44-2 following a 5-0 win over John Burger of New Milford in the championship. Janzer (45-2) beat Don Mandarino of Don Bosco, 3-2 in overtime.
Think about what these South Jersey wrestlers accomplished. First off, there are only 14 state champions crowned and there may not be a more difficult achievement than being a wrestling state champion.
Besides having to control your weight, wrestling for a six-minute bout is one of the most strenuous athletic activities. Plus New Jersey is considered one of the best wrestling states in the country, so a state champion in the Garden State is really beating the best of the best.
The combined record of the South Jersey state champions is an astonishing 132-5.
South Jersey also had some other outstanding showings.
So much is focused on the champions and rightly so, but just advancing to the final day of wrestling at Atlantic City is quite an achievement.
Collingswood senior Mike Taulane was the lone South Jersey wrestler to finish second. He advanced to the 195-pound final before losing to Kyle Lightner of Delaware Valley, 5-1. Taulane is one of the more impressive athletes in South Jersey. He was an all-conference football player as a running back-linebacker and hopes to play football in college. Taulane finished this season with a 40-3 record.
Five South Jersey wrestlers finished in fourth place. They were Dante Mininno of Gateway at 106, Edison Echevarria of Deslea (120), Anthony Duca of Palusboro (126), Trace Kinner of Kingsway (138) and Chad Watt of Woodstown (195).
Dante Mininno and Trace Kinner are the brothers of the above mentioned state champions. Fifth place winners were Seth Henry of Highland (113), Lucas Revano of Camden Catholic (120) and Travis Layton of Woodsotwn (138). The sixth place winners were Avery DiNardi of Holy Cross (160), Jak Maxwell of Buena (160) and Sean Lenzsch of St. Augustine (195).
With the three state champions leading the way, it should be another strong year next season in South Jersey wrestling both for individuals and teams. Paulsboro, the state champion and consensus No. 1 team in South Jersey, returns a veteran contingent and will be difficult to unseat at the top spot. Delsea, Camden Catholic, St. Augustine, Kingsway are just a few of the other expected top teams.
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