Thursday, March 6, 2014

Wrestling: Atlantic City by the numbers

Let's go inside the numbers for the 81st New Jersey State Wrestling Championships at Boardwalk Hall:

41 -- Highest number of individual wins entering the tournament. Hammonton senior Kellen Whitney is 41-0 at 170 pounds. The Atlantic County school, which started wrestling in 1980, produced its second finalist a year ago in David Williams at 182 pounds. There are several wrestlers with 39 victories coming into this weekend, including Roxbury state champ Dillon Artigliere (39-0 at 170).

-- Returning champions in this year's tournament, including Artigliere and Bergen Catholic's Nick Suriano (113) and Johnny Sebastian (182). Don Bosco's Luis Gonzalez (120), Bound Brook's Craig De La Cruz (126), North Bergen's Anthony Giraldo (132) and Delsea's Bryan Dobzanski (220) are also returning gold medal winners. Other 2012 winners are Hanover Park's Anthony Cefolo (120) and Watchung Hills' Mike Magaldo (132).

13 -- Region 2's total number of returning placewinners, the most among all eight regions. Region 5 is next with nine medal winners, including two-time runner-up Gary Dinmore at 152, who is looking to join Tom Gibble (1979-81) as the only three-time finalists for the Hunterdon County school. Dinmore (131-14) is three wins shy of matching Brian Bistis for second place on the Red Devils' all-time wins list.

32 -- Number of years without a state champion for DePaul. The Spartans had a great Region 1 Tournament, advancing six wrestlers to Atlantic City. Among those are junior David McFadden at 145 pounds, a two-time state placewinner and 2012 finalist. Steve DePetro, a two-time finalist, is the Passaic County school's third and last champion in 1982. He was preceded by Gene Mills (1976) and Sal La Corte (1981).

129 -- State champions produced by Union County, far and away the leader in New Jersey. Westfield's Christian Barber (2011) is the last champ from the county. Union's Leo Moorman was the first at 95 pounds in 1935. Next up is Sussex with 113 (82 from Newton) and Bergen with 105. Warren County ranks fourth with 85, followed by Ocean (61), Somerset (59), Camden, Gloucester and Morris (56), Middlesex (40), Monmouth (37), Hunterdon (36), Essex (34), Burlington (24), Passaic (20), Atlantic (18), Cumberland (12), Salem (8), Hudson (5), Cape May (4) and Mercer (2).

83 -- Artigliere, who is 153-8 overall, takes an 83-match win streak to AC, where he will try to become the first Roxbury wrestler to win a second state championship. The 170-pounder's last loss was 6-0 to Kittatinny's Clarke Moynihan in the 2012 consolation semifinals at 152. Dobzanski is riding an 81-match streak dating to a 3-2 loss to Don Bosco's Razohnn Gross in the 2012 quarterfinals at 195 pounds.

8 -- There are nine schools with eight state champions -- Bergen Catholic, Delaware Valley, Delbarton, Delsea, Kittatinny, Millville, Randolph, Roxbury and St. Joseph-Montvale. Only Randolph does not have a state qualifier this season. Several of the others have wrestlers among the favorites at their weight classes, including returning champs Suriano and Sebastian of Bergen Catholic and Dobzanski of Delsea, along with Roxbury's Artigliere. Delbarton's Ty Agaisse (106) and Josef Johnson (170) are looking to become their school's first champ since 2007 (Trevor Melde).

20 -- Atlantic City will host the state tournament for a 20th time this year -- only Princeton University's Jadwin Gym has hosted more (22 from 1970-91). The event shifted to AC in 1992 where it's been ever since, sans a two-year move to the Meadowlands in 2000 and '01, when Boardwalk Hall underwent renovations. Other former hosts include the Elizabeth Armory (nine times, 1947-55), Rutgers (seven from 1959-65) and Asbury Park Convention Hall (four from 1966-69). Ten high schools have also been sites for the tournament -- Union, Somerville, Roselle Park, Teaneck, Grover Cleveland Jr. (Elizabeth), Springfield, Thomas Jefferson, Rahway and Belvidere (1946). Union hosted the first four tournaments from 1934-37.

82 -- Total number of state champions for Newton High School, a state record. The Sussex County school has one entry this year in junior Gus Protogeropoulos at 220. The Braves have had at least one qualifier in 10 straight tournaments. Ted Sibblies, a runner-up in 1989, was the school's last finalist, while fellow assistant coach Andy Iliff is the last champion -- winning back-to-back in 1986 and '87.

960 -- Total number of state champions in New Jersey history. This year's tournament is the 81st overall since 1934 -- when Newton's Leo Snover won the first state title and started the Sussex County school's run to a state record 82 champs.

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