ATLANTIC CITY –
Tyree Sutton knew what his 4-2 overtime win over Queen of Peace’s Jeff Velez Saturday night in a 195-pound semifinal bout of the NJSIAA Individual Championships at Boardwalk Hall meant for not only himself, but the entire Keansburg community.
“I have the whole town supporting me,” Sutton said. “It’s a great movement in Keansburg right now. They’re probably blowing up my Facebook (page) right now.”
Sutton, who is Keansburg’s first state finalist, is one of five Region VI wrestlers who will be wrestling for a state championship at 3 p.m. Sunday at Boardwalk Hall.
The other four are from Brick Memorial.
The Mustangs have been one of the dominant forces in the state at Boardwalk Hall this weekend. Their wrestlers are now `13-0 in the tournament after Gianni Ghione (113), Alec Donovan (145), Cliff Ruggiero (160) and Nick Rivera (heavyweight) all won their semifinal bouts in different ways. It is the first time a Shore Conference team has ever had four state finalists.
Toms River South (1977) and Jackson Memorial (2008) are the only Shore Conference teams to have had three state champions.
The five finalists are five more than Region VI had last year, when the Shore Conference did not have a state finalist for the first time since 1970.
Sutton (42-0), who last year became Keansburg’s first state medalist when he finished sixth at 195 after advancing to the semifinal, recorded the winning takedown five seconds into overtime after Velez had ridden him out in the third period. The takedown was a counter to a shot by Velez.
“My defense is outstanding I like to think,” Sutton said. “I wrestled that kid (Velez) three times and he beat me in overtime the same way, by dropping down to my ankle (during rideouts). That was the first time I didn’t go to a rideout period (against Velez).”
“He had to go (for the takedown), and he did,” Keansburg coach Chris DeTalvo said. “It all worked out.”
Sutton, who will wrestle Holy Cross of Delran’s Matt Correnti in the final, could have chosen to go 220 for the post-season after wrestling most of the season there.
“I felt it was more competitive at this weight class,” Sutton, who said colleges are looking at him as a 197-pounder, said. “I like the competition. I also like rankings. I want to be ranked No. 1 in the country.”
“He wanted to go at what he thought was the better weight class,” DeTalvo said. “This is what he’s wanted since last year. Now, he’s getting the shot. He’s taking advantage of every single part.”
Also, in the back of Sutton’s mind in the decision to go 195 was the chance to get another shot at Correnti, who is a two-time state placewinner. The two split two one-point bouts last year with Correnti winning in the state wrestleback semifinals.
“He’s (Correnti) only a junior so he has next year,” Sutton said.
Ruggiero is perhaps the most surprising of Brick Memorial’s finalists. He defeated Phillipsburg’s Max Elling, 5-3, in the semifinal.
“I never thought I’d make it this far,” Ruggiero said. “I had never even made it to states before. Now, that I finally made it, the coaches had always told me, ‘Once you make it to the states, you’re going to place. People don’t know your style’.”
In a bout where both wrestlers were trying to throw each other, Ruggierio (34-4) recorded takedowns in the second and third periods.
“After districts, I was working on all kinds of new stuff,” Ruggiero said. “Now, I’m taking that new stuff and trying to score as many points as I can.”
Ruggiero will be an underdog against DePaul’s Dave McFadden, last year’s state champion at 145. McFadden pinned Brick’s Will Scott with a cradle in the second period in the semifinal.
“What do I have to lose.? I have nothing to lose against him,” Ruggiero said.
Donovan defeated High Point’s Jason Gaccione, 3-2, in an enthralling bout on a reversal with four seconds left.
The reversal came after an extended scramble. Gaccione is renowned as an outstanding scrambler.
“Honestly, I thought I was only going to get one (the escape) and go into overtime,” Donovan said. “I figured if I spiked the leg and come under the arm, I would get the two.”
Donovan (35-1) will meet Bound Brook’s Stephan Glasgow (37-4) in the final.
“At ShoreThing (the club Donovan belongs to), there’s this wall of state champs, and it’s right in the front so you can’t miss it,” Donovan said. “I walk by it every day and say, ‘There’s a spot. My picture belongs right there.”
Ghione recorded a takedown in the first period, a reversal in the second period and a takedown in the third to defeat Morris Knolls’ Garrett O’Shea, 6-4.
“I’m happy right now where I am, but I’m not content with where I am,” Ghione said.
Ghione (35-2) will wrestle Hamilton East’s Brandon Cray (25-1) in the final. Cray defeated Christian Brothers Academy’s Sebastian Rivera, the Region VI champion, 3-1, on a reversal in the second part of the second overtime. Ghione beat Cray last year in season-opening The College of New Jersey Tournament.
“I know he likes throwing. I like throwing, so that’s cool,” Ghione said.
Rivera (32-1) defeated Sayreville’s Anthony Porcaro 4-3 in double overtime when he escaped in the first part of the second overtime and rode Porcaro out in the second part of the second overtime.
Rivera will wrestle Don Bosco Prep’s Zack Chakonis, the runner-up the last two years at 220, in the final. Chakonis majored Jackson Memorial’s Brody Graham, 10-0.
Steven Falk: 732-643-4267; sfalk@app,com