The headlock was the big move for both wrestlers, as they were among 10 from the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area to advance with victories in the pre-quarterfinal round on Friday night at Boardwalk Hall.
Saturday's quarterfinals are slated for noon, with the semifinals set for 5 p.m. There are 22 area wrestlers still going in the wrestlebacks, with a chance to place as high as third.
Markus scored four points off a headlock in the third period to break open his match with Howell's Kyle Slendorn en route to a 7-5 decision at 113 pounds. Markus (34-7), who a Region 1 runner-up, was in a great deal of pain after the win, favoring his left shoulder and elbow. He had to take an injury timeout in the second period with 1:05 left on the clock after Slendorn tied it a 2-2 with a reversal.
"I feel good that I won, but I'm in a lot of pain," said Markus, who beat Slendorn, 4-2, in a dual meet on Jan. 14. "I didn't want to give up that reversal. It was bothering me wrestling in the region final [against DePaul's Daniel Percelay, who lost in the pre-quarters]."
In addition to Markus, senior Brandon Paetzell (132) and Robert Melise (220) moved into the quarters, with Brian Meyer (145), DJ Wissing (152) and Kyle Nothnagel (285) falling into the consolations.
Markus, who went 0-2 here at 106 last season, will get his shot at Glory on Saturday. That is, he will next face Delbarton's Patrick Glory, the state runner-up at 106 a year ago. Facing the No. 1 seed in the top bracket takes some of the pressure off, but Markus is ready for the challenge.
"It feels good getting [into the quarters]," Markus said. "It will be a good match. Hopefully, I can get an upset."
Speaking of upsets, Palumbo knocked off one of the two No. 2 seeds at 145 with a stunning pin of Don Bosco Prep's Taylor Shay in 4:46. Palumbo, who trailed, 4-0, in the first period, got a pair of escapes to make it 4-2 heading into the third. After cutting Shay to start the period, Palumbo hit a sweet headlock for the fall.
"That was the plan all along," said Palumbo, when asked if he gave Shay the immediate escape to go for the home-run move. "Just keep pushing the action. I knew he couldn't hang with me."
Palumbo (35-7) finished third in Region 1 and had to wrestle in the prelims, scoring a 13-4 major over Bishop Ahr's John Sheedy. But getting past Shay was a big hurdle, and now the bracket seems a bit more wide open. Palumbo will next face Point Pleasant Beach's John Finnerty (34-3), a Region 6 champion.
"I'm not looking past anyone, I just want to do my best," Palumbo said. "I'm taking the same approach as any other tournament, just wrestle as hard as I can."
Ciavarro on the move
It's been a tough season for North Hunterdon senior Derek Ciavarro, who has battled injuries and a disappointing third-place finish at 160 pounds in Region 5 this past weekend. In his semifinal match, Ciavarro was in the lead when he was decked by Piscataway's Michael Petite in 4:17.
Also moving into quarters from Hunterdon County were Voorhees' Kyle DiNapoli (126) and Hunterdon Central's Victor Lacombe (220).
Ciavarro isn't thinking about that one too much after battling his way into the state quarterfinals with a 3-2 win over West Morris' Caleb Isemann, who was third in Region 1. Ciavarro (26-2), who won his prelim, 3-1, over Westfield's Jarek Gozdieski, heeded some advice from older brother, Michael, who was a sixth-place finisher at 152 pounds in 2014.
"He was telling me to get every point possible in every match, just like when he wrestled," said Derek, who laughed when reminded that Michael had a penchant for tight, low-scoring matches, as he won twice by scores of 3-2 and 2-1 in his final matches in AC.
"Yeah, I have to knock that off."
Ciavarro, who had his left knee heavily wrapped, seems to be in a nice spot in the draw. He will face West Milford's Christian DalCais, a Region 1 runner-up, for the right to move into the semifinals.
"I'm in an amazing spot," Ciavarro said. "I'm extremely thankful. I knew that only taking third place in the regions that not many people would be picking me to make it far. I just need to believe in myself. Everyone is wrestling hurt down here. I just have to suck it up."
Sussex's core four
Kittatinny senior Austin Scrivani was among four wrestlers from Sussex County to reach the quarterfinals, joining Palumbo and Pope John's JoJo Aragona (106) and Jake Rotunda (120).
Scrivani, making his third appearance in AC, moved on with a 7-3 win over Passaic Tech's Nick Legreaux, coached by former Vernon state champ and High Point coach Jan Michaels.
Pope John, which hasn't had a state champ since 1990, has four wrestlers in the tournament as freshman Robert Garcia (126) and sophomore Jake Brown (182) fell into the wrestlebacks. Aragona (37-0), tabbed my many to win the title at 106, eased into the quarterfinals with an 8-2 decision over East Brunswick's Mitchell Polito, while Rotunda advanced with a 6-3 victory over Region 4 champ Ray Wetzel of Queen of Peace.
High Point's Kevin Lewis (285), a Region 1 champion who was pinned in 29 seconds in the pre-quarters, joined the two from Pope John in the consolations. In all, seven wrestlers from the county will have to fight their way back as Lenape Valley's Jacob Falleni (113), Hopatcong's Anthony Mastroeni (132), Sparta's Al Falco (170) and Newton's Adam Schlereth (220) can still finish as high as third.
Schlereth, who finished fourth in Region 1, but got the chance to wrestle here due to an injury to Roxbury's Todd Eckert, was leading, 10-2, in his preliminary bout against Cranford's Alex Esposito before getting decked in 2:41. It was shades of last weekend, when Schlereth led Eckert late in the third period before getting pinned in their third-place bout at Region 1.
Regions by the numbers
Region 2 has the most quarterfinalists with 19 (down 6 from last year), but Region 1 enjoyed a fine showing on Friday night with 17. The two regions were tops a year ago as well, as Region 8 came in third with 16, followed by Region 3 with 14, Regions 4 and 5 with 13 and Region 6 with 12. Region 7 is in last with eight, as it was in 2015.
Region 5 earned one of the night's best wins when Eliias Vega of Carteret stunned Wall's Brett Donner, 12-8, in the pre-quarterfinals at 170 pounds. Donner, a third-place finisher two years ago, was a trendy pick to win the state title. Vega (37-1) is looking to become the first-ever medal winner at his school.
Unlike last season, no region put all three of its wrestlers into the quarters at a weight class. Region 1 has at least one at every weight, sans 152 and 285. Region 2 only missed at 106 and 145, while Region 8 has no one at just 182.
Quarterfinals matchups (HWS only)
106 -- Aragona vs. Dante Minnino, Gateway-Woodbury
113 -- Markus vs. Glory
120 -- Rotunda vs. Gerard Angelo, Bergen Catholic
126 -- DiNapoli vs. Troy Stanich, Roxbury
132 -- Paetzell vs. Robert Cleary, Edison
138 -- Scrivani vs. Kris Lindemann, Howell
145 -- Palumbo vs. Finnerty
160 -- Ciavarro vs. DalCais
220 -- Melise vs. Michael Daniele, Paramus; Lacombe vs. Michael Carfagno, St. Joseph-Montvale