It has been no secret all season about the possibility Region VI was going to have no wrestler crowned a state champion at the NJSIAA Individual Championships.
The seeding for the tournament gave a reasonable indication that could come to fruition.
No Region VI wrestler earned a No. 1 seed in their half of the bracket. Five Region VI wrestlers were seeded second in their half brackets and four Region VI wrestlers were seeded third in their half of the brackets.
The tournament, which takes place Friday-Sunday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, was seeded Tuesday at NJSIAA headquarters.
Region VI wrestlers who were seeded second in their half brackets are Brick Memorial’s Giovanni Ghione (top bracket, 106), Toms River South’s Owen McClave (top bracket, 113), Jackson Liberty’s Mike Russo (bottom bracket, 120), Howell’s Joey Schultz (top bracket, 160) and Brick Memorial’s Nick Costa (bottom bracket, 182).
Southern’s Zach Wilhelm (145), Wall’s Brett Donner (160), Christian Brothers Academy’s Mike Oxley (195) and Brick Memorial’s Tyler Poling (220) were all seeded No. 3 in the bottom bracket of their respective weight classes.
Eleven Region VI wrestlers were seeded sixth or lower in their half brackets of their respective weight classes. That came about either because those wrestlers either were making their first appearance in the state tournament, did not have a great deal of criteria or are in tough weight classes.
Seeding is done based on past state tournament accomplishments and head-to-head results.
There are two half brackets — a top bracket and a bottom bracket — for each of the 14 weight classes. Past state tournament accomplishments were used to pre-seed each half bracket for the region champions and region runner-ups. Head to-head results were used to determine the final seeds in each half bracket.
Region runner-ups were placed in the opposite bracket from their region champion. Region third-place finishers were placed in the same half bracket as their region runner-up, but were placed in a different quarter bracket from their runner-up. Many of Region VI’s runner-ups and third-place finishers received tough draws in either their preliminary-round bout or their pre-quarterfinal-round bout.
Region champions have a bye into the pre-quarterfinals, which will be at 7 p.m. Friday. Region runners-up and third-place finishers wrestle in the preliminary-round, which will be at 5 p.m. Friday.
Three of Region VI’s wrestlers who received No. 2 seeds in their half brackets are in weight classes with returning state champions.
McClave, who was a quarterfinalist last year at 106 and wound up one win short of being a state medalist, is in the same half bracket as Bergen Catholic’s Nick Suriano, who was last year’s state 106-pound champion and is 79-0 for his career. If McClave (37-1) advances to the semifinals, Suriano will likely be his opponent.
Russo (35-0), the state fourth-place finisher at 106 last year, is in a weight class with two past state champions in Don Bosco Prep’s Luis Gonzalez (28-7) and Hanover Park’s Anthony Cefolo (36-5).
Gonzalez, the top seed in the top bracket and the No. 1 overall seed, won at 113 last year and is a three-time state top four finisher.
Cefolo, the top seed in the bottom bracket, was the state champion at 106 in 2012. He did not qualify for the state tournament last year and was defeated by Delbarton’s Nick Farro, the No. 4 seed in the top bracket, in the Region III final.
If Russo gets to the semifinals, Cefolo could be his opponent. There are seven past placewinners at 120.
Costa (27-1), who was the state seventh-place finisher last year at 182, is in the same weight class as Bergen Catholic’s two-time state champion Johnny Sebastian. Costa is in the opposite bracket from Sebastian. The top seed in his half of the bracket is Brearley’s Joey Balboni, the state third-place finisher at 170 last year.
Ghione, a freshman who won the Region VI Tournament last weekend by defeating the No. 2, 3 and 4 seeds, including CBA’s previously-unbeaten Sebastian Rivera, is in a weight class with just two past state placewinners in Phillipsburg’s Brandon Paetzell, fifth last yeat at 106 and Delbarton’s Ty Agaisse, seventh last year at 106.
Ghione (26-6) got his high seed because he defeated Hamilton East’s Region VII champion Brandon Cray (34-1), who was a state tournament participant last year. If Ghione advances to the quarterfinals, he could wrestle Cray. Paetzell (36-1) is the No. 1 seed in the top bracket and the No. 1 overall seed.
Rivera (35-1) is the No. 4 seed in the bottom bracket. If he advances to the quarterfinals, he will likely wrestle Agaisse (37-0).
Schultz (33-2) is in what might be one of the more open weights in the tournament. There is no returning state champion at the weight and just two returning state placewinners in East Brunswick’s Jonathan Schleifer (34-0), the state runner-up at 160 last year and three-time state placewinner, and Bound Brook’s Joshua Ugalde, who was sixth last yeat at 152. Schleifer is the No. 1 seed in the top bracket and No. 1 overall seed. Ugalde is the No. 1 seed in the bottom bracket.
Donner (35-1), who beat Schultz, 5-1, in the Region VI final, is Ugalde’s bracket. He could have a quarterfinal-round bout with Riverside’s Christian Stackhouse (38-0), a three-time state tournament participant who beat Donner, 3-1, in overtime in the Mustang Classic final on Dec. 28.