Jazikoff starts off strong in District title bid

Jazikoff starts off strong in District title bid


Jazikoff starts off strong in District title bid



Ray Jazikoff, the Greater Middlesex Conference 145-pound champion, has been part of the powerful South Plainfield High School wrestling lineup for the past four years, contributing to last year’s historic team.

He and senior 152-pounder Inan Sikel became the leaders this season, serving as the Tigers’ co-captains.

Today, Jazikoff hopes to get something that has eluded him — a District 12 title. He has been a three-time runner-up to the graduated Governor Livingston standout Jon Mele. Jazikoff has another first he’s chasing — he’d like to qualify for the NJSIAA Tournament at Boardwalk Hall. The tournament — won for 29 straight years by host South Plainfield — resumes this morning with semifinals at 10 a.m., consolation finals at 1 p.m. and finals at 3 p.m. The top three placers go on to the Region III Tournament next week at Union High School.

South Plainfield leads the field with 116 points, with Watchung Hills second at 101½, Governor Livingston third at 85 and Middlesex fourth with 68.

“Some good some bad,” said South Plainfield coach Kevin McCann, whose team will have 12 wrestlers in the semifinals. “We would have liked to have gotten the other two through. We lost two close matches, 2-1, 4-2, and that’s been the season. We don’t seem to be pull out the close matches. Hopefully it doesn’t come back to bite us. But the 12 we have left hope they do the job in the semis and we come away with number 30.”

The top-seeded Jazikoff, who became the 19th Tiger to reach 100 wins in the Virginia Duals in January, won his 118th bout Friday night with a pin. He’ll face Watchung Hills’ Stephen Tyls in a semifinal bout.

“It was a monkey I couldn’t get off my back but you can’t think of the past, every match is different,” said Jazikoff, who’s been a runnerup at 120, 113 and 103. “A lot of people are saying I’ll have it easy here, but you still have to go out and wrestle. You can’t think about anything else.

“I’m shooting for more and more,” he said.

McCann said he believes he can go with anybody who will qualify at Atlantic City.

“It’s his year,” McCann said. “Hopefully he gets the monkey off his back, it’s just one step, the goal is to go to A.C. and he’s beaten state qualifiers and state champs. Hopefully he stays focused, gets his district title and moves on from there.”

The biggest surprise of opening night was at 138 pounds, where South Plainfield sixth-seeded freshman Kyle Bithel beat Middlesex’s third-seeded senior Kyle Paff of Middlesex 10-9. Bithel, who is 5-5, has been dealing with coming back from a fractured elbow he fractured suffered in football season.

Paff was a GMC Tournament finalist.

“He was kind of gassed and I won the match,” said Bithel, who lost a bout in the North 2 Group II final last Saturday against Hanover Park. “I just went out and wrestled my best.”

Watchung Hills senior Mike Magaldo, who won a state title two years ago at 120 after being beaten by South Plainfield’s Nick Heilman in the district and region finals, is also after his first district title. He spent just 27 seconds on the mat Friday night.

“I’m going for it,” said Maglado, a runnerup at 126 last year to South Plainfield’s Corey Stasenko., was second as a freshman to four-time state champ Anthony Ashnault at 112. That year, Ashnault beat Magaldo for the state title.

Plainfield had five wrestlers advance to the semifinals, including senior Derrick Washington at 160. Washington won by forfeit, his 95th career victory.

Eighth-seeded freshman Amir Sa’d of North Plainfield beat top-seeded New Providence junior Pat Morris 10-4 at 220.


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