A wrestler who finishes third in his region should not always be dismissed as an outsider when it comes to how they might fare in the NJSIAA Individual Wrestling Championships.
There are two famous examples of a wrestler from Region VI who finished third in the region and then went on to win a state championship.
In 2008, Manchester heavyweight Jimmy Lawson was then won the state championship by winning five bouts in the tournament. He defeated unbeaten Harry Turner of Howell in the final. Turner had pinned Lawson earlier that season.
On his journey to that state title, Lawson defeated the top seed in the bottom bracket and region champions in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final.
Lawson, currently a senior at Penn State University, where he is the No. 5 pre-seed in the Big Ten Tournament that will take place Saturday-Sunday at Ohio State, went on to win two more state championships and became the first heavyweight in 62 years to win three consecutive state championships.
Another region third-place finisher who went to win a state championship was Jackson Memorial Ken Carney at 160 pounds in 2007.
Carney rebounded from a loss to Raritan’s Dan Seidenberg in the Region VI semifinals and defeated Seidenberg in the state final.
Third-place wrestlers are not seeded. They are at the mercy of the draw.
They are placed in the opposite bracket from their region champion in the same half bracket as their region runner-up and away from their region runner-up until at least the quarterfinals in most cases. However, there is one example this year that we will talk about shortly where that is not the case.
The following is a look at three Region VI third-place finishers who we think got decent draws.
ANTREZ CLAGON, TOMS RIVER SOUTH 160:
This is the quirk in the placement of third-place finishers mentioned above.
Clagon (32-4), who won two bouts in the state tournament last year at 170 pounds, is in a real interesting spot.
He will wrestle New Providence’s Daniel Kourakos (31-4), the Region III runner-up and the No. 3 seed in the top bracket, in the preliminary round. Kourakos, a senior, is making his first appearance in the state tournament.
If Clagon wins that bout, he will wrestle the winner of the bout between Whippany Park’s Joseph Prato (31-4), the Region III third-place finisher and Brick’s Will Scott (31-3), the Region VI runner-up, in the pre-quarterfinals. Scott is the No. 6 seed in the top bracket.
Scott defeated Clagon, 5-1, on Jan. 30 when he had a five-point move off a tilt in the first period.
The top part of the 160-pound bracket has a monster as the top seed in DePaul’s Dave McFadden, last year’s state champion at 145 and a three-time state medal winner. But, McFadden is the only past state placewinner at the entire weight.
CONNOR BOHRINGER, JACKSON MEMORIAL, 182:
A lot of this is because of how open the entire 182-pound bracket is.
There are only two returning state placewinners in the entire weight and neither of the returning state placewinners was higher than sixth.
Bohringer (27-2) drew Region II runner-up and bottom bracket No. 3 seed Vinnie Maniero of St. Joseph (Montvale) (32-9) in the preliminary round. Maniero has been in the state tournament the last three years, but his best advancment actually came in 2012.
If Bohringer wins there, he would wrestle the winner of the bout between Dean Drugac of Morris Knolls (38-2), the Region I third-place finisher and James Pott of Cherry Hill West (32-5), the Region VII runner-up, in the pre-quarterfinals.
Toms River South’s Joe Salvato, the Region VI runner-up. could be Bohringer’s quarterfinal-round opponent should he advance that far. Salvato did pin Bohringer in the Region VI semifinal.
MIKE SIWIEC, TOMS RIVER NORTH, 220:
This, too, is as much because the entire weight is wide open. There is nly one returning state placewinner in the whole weight.
Siwiec (30-1) will wrestle Phillipsburg’s Robert Melise (33-7), the Region I runner-up and the top bracket No. 7 seed, in the preliminary round.
Melise was pinned by Southern’s Pat Ferraro on Jan. 31. Siwiec defeated Ferraro twice this season.
If Siwiec wins that bout, he would wrestle Brearley’s Saverio Salcfas in the pre-quarterfinals. Salcfas won one bout in last year’s state tournament.
There are no past state medal winners in the entire top bracket.
Steven Falk: 732-643-4267; email@example.com