Roxbury’s returning state champion Dillon Artigliere and Delbarton’s returning state seventh-placer Josef Johnson hit the ground running when they began wrestling in high school.
But other wrestlers in the Morris County Tournament’s 170-pound weight class, like Whippany Park’s Vin Mattia, took the long, slow road before finding success.
Mattia pinned Pequannock’s Brendan Monaghan in 3:16 in the first round of the MCT at Mount Olive Friday night.
The third-seeded Mattia will face Mount Olive’s No. 6 seed Anel Kadiric in the quarterfinals, which will begin today at 10 a.m. The semifinals will begin at 1, with the consolations at 3 and the finals at 5:30.
Mattia has his work cut out if he wants to shock the world and win the weight class. But the Wildcats senior has spent the last couple of years opening up a lot of eyes.
As a freshman, Mattia was a backup at Seton Hall Prep before transferring back to Whippany as a sophomore. During his first year back in district, he had to sit out because of the 30-day transfer rule and the slow start hindered him as he lost on Friday night of District 9.
Then, after a slow start last year, he picked things up and went on a roll late in the year. He placed in the top six in both the MCT and at Region 3.
Heading into this year, he spent a large amount of time working out in the offseason.
“This offseason he put in a lot of work on the mats and was very dedicated to improving,” coach Devin Engelberger said. “He knew this would be a big season for the team and himself and he has committed fully.”
The work has paid off. Mattia, wrestling mostly as a 182-pounder this year, is 20-2, with wins over Lenape Valley’s D.J. Barrett (twice), Pequannock’s Pat Daly, and Roselle Park’s returning Region 3 semifinalist Steev Lovesky.
“Since dropping down to 170, he has become incredibly driven and focused,” Engelberger said.
“His goal is to make it to AC and he is taking the right steps. He is managing his weight the right way, keeping up his strength and conditioning.”
Mattia is doing the extra things necessary to qualify for the states.
“We work out every morning at 6 a.m. before school and he gets an extra match in after practice every day,” Engelberger said.
“He takes advantage of every opportunity to get better. He is self-motivated and his confidence is starting to show on the mat.”
The top-seeded Artigliere pinned Boonton’s Alex Tims in 44 seconds. Johnson, meanwhile, decked West Morris’ Aldo Cammalleri in 2:40.