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ATLANTIC CITY – To honor the school’s wrestling state champions, Toms River North puts a cutout of the state of New Jersey up on a wall with the wrestlers’ name down the middle. There were three prior to Saturday.

It’s time to start working on one for Nick Boggiano.

Boggiano, a senior at Toms River North, won by 7-3 decision over Paramus junior Aaron Ayzerov on Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall to bring home the NJSIAA 152-pound state championship. He is the Mariners’ fourth state champion in program history and the first since Matt Oliver in 2007.

“It feels good that I will be up there forever,” Boggiano said. “It took a lot of work and I finally did it in my last year.”

After using a move he learned on his first day at Toms River North to pin the No. 1 seed in the semifinals, Boggiano again utilized his flexible frame to build a big lead in the second period of the state final.

Boggiano jumped on Ayzerov quickly with a takedown in the first 15 seconds of the match and rode him out the rest of the way to lead 2-0 after the opening two minutes. Boggiano deferred his choice in the second period and Ayzerov chose neutral. Thirty seconds into the period, Ayzerov shot on Boggiano but only had a hold of one leg.

It was a costly mistake.

Boggiano countered quickly to put Ayzerov in a cradle, and although he wasn’t able to secure the fall, the 5-point move gave him a 7-0 lead heading to the third.

“My knee is pretty bendy so I usually just sit it, crunch him and then I just take him over,” Boggiano said. “I practice that a lot.”

“If you don’t get to two legs on Bogg’ it’s real hard to score,” said Toms River North head coach Bill Wilbert. “You attack one leg and Bogg’ is in business. He jumps sides, looks cradle and that’s exactly where he was at. Off (Ayzerov’s) attack it was just Bogg’ being Bogg’, just stingy and fighting it off. Some people go limp arm, Bogg’ goes limp body.

Boggiano took top in the third period and yielded an escape and a takedown, but the lead he built through two periods was plenty to see him have his hand raised as a state champion.

03/07/2020: NJSIAA Boys State Final
Photo by Richard O'Donnell.

“Once you get more than a three-point lead it’s pretty hard to lose if you’re wrestling smart,” Boggiano said.

Boggiano’s senior season was exceptional and had only one blip: a loss to Camden Catholic’s Brandon Mooney in the Region 7 final. Boggiano trailed 5-3 late, went for a desperation shot and was put to his back and pinned in the final seconds. The sport of wrestling has broken men far more seasoned and grizzled than Boggiano but he picked up in the state tournament like nothing ever happened. His only regret was that the region loss prevented him from winning 150 career matches.

“You have to have a short-term memory,” Boggiano said. “I was really mad after that loss so I went for a long run to get my head right. I had to stay focused.”

For all his physical talent on the mat, Boggiano’s greatest strength is his mental toughness.

“He’s just so mentally tough,” Wilbert said. “We’ll go through times in (practice) where I’m trying to break everyone in the room. Guys are crying and screaming at each other and Bogg’ is like, ‘Let’s do some more monkey rolls!’. You just can’t break him. He thrives in those situations. We call it ‘Bogg’ time’.”

Boggiano concluded his career with 149 wins and as a three-time district champ, a two-time Shore Conference champ, a four-time state qualifier, a two-time state medalist and now, a state champion.

“We’ve been talking about getting him his own New Jersey cutout and now he’s going to have his own with Boggiano down the middle of it,” Wilbert said. “For him to finish it off like this is perfect."


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


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