Tyree Sutton’s life has been like a whirlwind since he became Keansburg’s first NJSIAA wrestling champion on March 8.
“It’s been amazing. Some great things are happening ever since I won states,” said Sutton, a 195-pounder.
• Keansburg coach Chris DeTalvo said the Monmouth County Freeholders dedicated March 12 as “Tyree Sutton Day” in Monmouth County.
“I’m up there with the presidents,” Sutton laughed.
• DeTalvo said the Lakewood BlueClaws — the Philadelphia Phillies’ low Class-A affiliate— invited Sutton to an early season game.
• Both Sutton and DeTalvo said the Stewart’s restaurant near Keansburg High School will unveil a sandwich called “Fat Sutton” named after the grappler in April.
“It’s a cheese steak, mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers and curly fries,” Sutton said.
RELATED: Meet the All-Shore Wrestling Team
• Sutton also had a chance to talk to third- and fourth-grade students in the Keansburg school system.
“It was fun. I had some kids tell me I’m their hero,” Sutton said. “They definitely look up to me, and it’s great being that role model.”
• Sutton was also New Jersey’s represenative March 16 at 195 pounds in the 35th annual Easton Lions Club All-Star Wrestling Classic in Easton, Pa., which pits top wrestlers from the Garden State against contemporaries from the Keystone State.
Such is life when you make history, and you won your state championship the way Sutton did.
Sutton — who went 41-0 on the season — defeated Holy Cross’ three-time state placewinner Matt Correnti, who was 42-0 entering the bout, 5-3, in overtime.
“When I watch the match, it’s still hard to believe,” Sutton said. “I expected it to happen, but it’s still unbelievable.”
After riding out Correnti in the second period, Sutton fell behind 3-0 in the third period when Correnti scored three back points off a wild scramble in which it looked like Sutton had a chance to get out.
He still trailed 3-1 with the clock running out on his state championship dreams.
“It was definitely a lot of pressure, but it was also fun winning it at the same time,” Sutton said. “I looked at the clock with like 10 seconds left, and I was like, ‘I need to hit a move.’ It was definitely a nerve-wracking, not knowing if I was going to get it or not.”
Sutton sent the bout into overtime with a takedown at the edge of the mat with four seconds left off an ankle pick.
With 20 seconds left in the first overtime period, Sutton — who had defeated Queen of Peace’s Jeff Velez in overtime in the semifinal — recorded the winning takedown.
“Going into overtime, I felt like he (Correnti) was in panic mode because he didn’t feel like he gave up two (the takedown at the end of regulation). I guess he was like in attack mode,” said Sutton, whose win in the final was career win No. 100. “My defense is really good. I was expecting him to take a sloppy shot.”
The win over Correnti, who Sutton had split bouts with in 2014, made Sutton’s decision to go 195 pay off. Sutton wrestled much of the season at 220 and had defeated eventual sixth-place finisher Tyreek Smith of Moorestown, 9-3, during a dual-meet in late January.
“95, I definitely felt like was more competitive,” Sutton said. “There was a junior national champion in that weight class in Jeff Velez, a two-time Beast of the East (the prestigious season-opening tournament at the University of Delaware) champion (Correnti). I always like the best matchups.”
And when Sutton had his hand raised at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, it was the end of a journey that including being academically ineligible as a sophomore and also becoming a father during his scholastic career.
Sutton, who admitted after the state final he was close to leaving Keansburg earlier in his career to go to a more renowned wrestling school, has now forever become the face of the Keansburg wrestling program. Both DeTalvo and Sutton said there are some talented wrestlers on the junior high level.
“If they keep to it, they can definitely break some of my records, hopefully,” Sutton said. “I would definitely like that, but you have to put in the work. I tell them that all the time.”
And one day, maybe a future Keansburg wrestler will become the celebrity Sutton has become.
Staff writer Steven Falk: firstname.lastname@example.org