Here are a few random stats, quotes and miscellaneous tidbits as we close the book on another state tournament and wrestling season. It was quite a three-day affair at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
I also kept busy by covering the Bethea brothers -- what a great family -- and other wrestlers in The Trentonian area.
Check out this story: Melton silences the doubters with a state title. That's Northern Burlington's Cody Melton who wrestled with a huge chip on his shoulder. In his third trip to AC, he came away with a gold medal.
"That's about as good as it gets ... winning a state championship," Melton said.
He's the school's second champ and first since Andy Zuckerman won the 108-pound title in 1977. Melton is also the Burlington County school's first finalist since Wayne Stinson in 1979. And Melton knew all of that history.
This was my worst year that I can remember picking state champs. I only hit on five of the 14 winners (Anthony Ashnault, B.J. Clagon, Johnny Sebastian, Ryan Harrington and Brandon Hull), and only had 15 of the 28 finalists. Still, I was pretty pleased with identifying 87 of the 112 placers, including the top four at 170 right on the money. I also said Hull would end Phillipsburg's drought before the districts started, so many thanks to the Stateliner for making me look good, which isn't easy to do.
Dinmore eyeing gold in 2013
Hunterdon Central sophomore Gary Dinmore was already thinking about next season after his loss to South Plainfield star Anthony Ashnault in the 126-pound state final.
"I guess I could've done better, but it's done, and I just have to prepare for next year," said Dinmore after an 5-2 loss to Ashnault.
Dinmore (29-8) got hot at the right time, knocking off four-time Burlington Township state placewinner Kevin Devoy in the quarterfinals. Dinmore also defeated Delaware Valley's Mike Pongracz en route to District 17 and Region 5 titles.
"I think I started peaking at the right time," said Dinmore, who was Central's 38th state finalist and attempted to become its 13th champ -- the Hunterdon County school's first since Alex Shaffer in 2010.
Devoy makes history in finale
Kevin Devoy became the highest placer in Burlington Township history with a third-place medal at 126 pounds. Devoy was previously fourth three times. The only other wrestler for the school to finish that high was Jared Holliday in 2010.
Devoy finished the season at 43-1 and 152-13 for his career -- also a school and county record for wins. His only regret was not getting better matches during the season, as he often pinned his opponents, a good deal of those in less than one minute.
"I was in pretty good shape, but [having tough] matches is totally different," said Devoy, who credited the Millers, David Sr. and David Jr., for helping him get this good during workouts at Wrecking Crew. "They taught me everything I know, including the [two-on-one] tilt I used [against Jackson Memorial's Brian Hamann]."
Devoy, who is being looked at by several colleges, including Rutgers, Rider, Drexel and North Carolina, hit that tilt for three big back points in a 6-2 win over Hamann in the bronze medal match.
H-W area sets places in AC
The Hunterdon-Warren area left Boardwalk Hall with seven medals, six of those to Hunterdon County wrestlers. Since 2000, the nine schools encompassing the two counties have combined to win 75 medals places one through eight.
Hunterdon Central leads the pack with 19, followed by Delaware Valley and Phillipsburg with 13 apiece. All three had medal winners this year: Dinmore for Central, Pongracz (fifth at 126) and Will Van Doren (eighth at 170) and state champ Brandon Hull for the Stateliners.
North Hunterdon added to its total (eight) with a pair of seventh-place finishers in Ryan Pomrinca (113) and Liam Korbul (182). Voorhees now has four after Jadaen Bernstein took seventh at 160.
Belvidere and Warren Hills are next with five each, while Hackettstown and North Warren have four apiece.
County gold breakdown
New Jersey has crowned a total of 946 state champions since 1934. Here's a breakdown of champions produced in each county since that first tournament. The 2012 champs for their respective counties in parentheses:
Bergen 101 (Johnny Sebastian, Bergen Catholic and Razohnn Gross, Don Bosco)
Warren 85 (Brandon Hull, Phillipsburg)
Ocean 60 (Bryant Clagon, Toms River South and Dallas Winston, Jackson Memorial)
Somerset 58 (Mike Magaldo, Watchung Hills)
Morris 55 (Anthony Cefolo, Hanover Park and Ryan Harrington, Mendham)
Middlesex 38 (Anthony Ashnault and Scott DelVecchio, South Plainfield)
Essex 34 (Brenden Calas, Seton Hall Prep)
Burlington 23 (Cody Melton, Northern Burlington)
Cape May 4
Hudson 4 (Alexander Richardson, St. Peter's Prep)
Mercer 2 (Raamiah Bethea, Trenton Central)