LITTLE SILVER -- It was far from an easy decision for Chad Freshnock to end his wrestling career with unfinished business, but the Middletown North senior had no regrets.

Hours before the start of the District 22 Tournament and the NJSIAA individual postseason, Freshnock, the reigning District 22 and Region VI champion, withdrew from the tournament.

The obvious question is why.

Freshnock has a full scholarship to play football at Bucknell University, and with knee injuries forcing him to miss time in each of the past two football and wrestling seasons, he decided to make sure his bright future stayed that way.

"It was really tough," Freshnock said while supporting his teammates during the first two rounds of the district tournament at Red Bank Regional High School. "I've placed in districts and regions, so giving that up wasn't too hard, but I really wanted to place in states. I weighed that and football. Football is my No. 1 sport and I don't want anything to mess that up."

Freshnock was a 1,000-yard rusher as a junior and a standout linebacker, and was expected to be one of the top all-around football players in the Shore Conference as a senior. He missed six games in the middle of the season with another knee injury, however. He figured he wouldn't wrestle at all in 2016, but he returned for the final three games of the 2015 football season and felt good enough that he wanted to come out to help what figured to be a strong Lions' wrestling team with him in the fold.

"In the beginning of the season I was just going to help the team out, and when this time (districts) came around I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do," Freshnock said. "I think I made the right decision. I've been getting the packets in the mail for my football workouts, so I'm getting pretty hyped for it. Football is my No. 1 sport. I love it and I can't wait to play for Bucknell."

Freshnock was 20-1 this season before stepping away, his only loss coming to Phillipsburg's Robert Melise, last season's 220-pound state fifth-place finisher, 4-1. He recorded his 100th career win this season and finishes his career as Middletown North's all-time wins leader with a 113-16 record. He is a three-time District 22 medalist and won the 2015 title at 220 pounds. He is a two-time region finalist, including winning the 2015 title at 220 pounds to become Middletown North's first region champion since Frank Molinaro in 2004.

He helped Middletown North finish the season 19-5 and earn a share of the Class A North division title. The Lions reached the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals, the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group IV sectional final and will finish as the No. 5 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10.

"It's always great to help the team," Freshnock said. "We got some great wins, finished top five in the Shore Conference and got to a state championship, so it was a great season for Middletown North wrestling. That's going to set up the future for us and hopefully we'll keep it rolling."

 

Wrestling editor Bob Badders can be reached at badders@allshoremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.