Girls Wrestling: Manalapan’s Jessi Johnson, Lakewood’s Jayla Hahn, Raritan’s Mia Lazaurs Claim Their Second Region Championships
Jessi Johnson is going to have to make some more room in her trophy case.
The highly-decorated Manalapan senior dominated the 161-pound bracket on Saturday at Williamstown High School to win the NJSIAA South Region championship, her second career region title.
Johnson wrestled a total of two minutes and 30 seconds in her two bouts. She was the top seed and received a bye into the semifinals of the six-person bracket where she won by fall over Kingsway junior Peyton Rieger in just 60 seconds. In the region final, she pinned Jackson Memorial junior Jordyn Katz in 1:30.
She will be the favorite at next weekend's NJSIAA Championships at Phillipsburg High School where she will try to close out her career with a third state title.
Johnson was one of three Shore Conference wrestlers to win their second region titles on Saturday and one of five local girls to take home region crowns.
Lakewood sophomore Jayla Hahn won the 143-pound championship with a 9-2 decision over Kingsway junior Alexa Firestone. Hahn was the top seed and won by fall over Jackson Memorial junior Kamila Bieszczad in 24 seconds in the semifinals. In the final, Hahn jumped on Firestone early with a takedown and three near-fall points in the first 20 seconds of the bout. She added a takedown in the second period and a reversal in the third period. Hahn won a region title and placed third in the state last season as a freshman when she attended Central Regional High School.
Also winning her second region title was Raritan senior Mia Lazaurs. The 215-pound bracket had just three girls entered so Lazaurs, who was the No. 1 seed, received a bye into the final. She needed just 47 seconds to win by fall over Jackson Memorial senior Alexsandra Bieszczad. Lazaurs was also a region champion and a state finalist in 2019.
Claiming their first region titles were Manalapan senior Julia Manolas and Jackson Memorial junior Abigail Stanberry.
Manolas was the top seed at 100 pounds and won her title with a 9-1 major decision over Gloucester City's Jaclyn McDowell. In the semifinals, Manolas defeated Paulsboro's Rosemary Santiago by a 10-2 major decision.
Stanberry came from the No. 3 seed to win the 151-pound title, taking out the No. 2 and No. 1 seeds in the process. She won by fall over the No. 6 seed, Palmyra sophomore Erika Samiento, in the quarterfinals before pinning second-seeded Rachel Forsman of Eastern in 4:30. In the championship bout, Stanberry built a 15-4 lead before pinning Kingsway's Katherine Bott in the third period. She nearly secured the pin at the end of a wild first period that ended with her leading 9-4.
The top four finishers in each of the 11 weight classes advance to the state tournament. In addition to the runner-up finishes by Katz at 161 and Bieszczad at 215, Lakewood senior Ana Gonzalez placed second at 180 pounds. Finishing third were Lakewood senior Sheila Cortez (100), Brick senior Gianna DeDreux (114), Jackson Memorial junior Chloe Lawler (128) and Southern Regional freshman Ella Yanuzzelli (180). Placing fourth to punch their tickets to Phillipsburg were Raritan senior Cloe Wong (107), Jackson Memorial junior Kamila Bieszczad (143) and Jackson Memorial senior Gina Novello (180).
Team scores were not officially kept but Jackson Memorial finished atop the team standings with 111 points, besting second-place Kingsway by 38.5 points. Lakewood was third with 71 points.
Complete List of State Qualifiers from the Shore Conference
Julia Manolas, Sr., Manalapan (1st)
Sheila Cortez, Sr., Lakewood (3rd)
Cloe Wong, Sr., Raritan (4th)
Gianna DeDruex, Sr., Brick (3rd)
Chloe Lawler, Jr., Jackson Memorial (3rd)
Jayla Hahn, So., Lakewood (1st)
Kamila Bieszczad, Jr., Jackson Memorial (4th)
Abigail Stanberry, Jr., Jackson Memorial (1st)
Jessi Johnson, Sr., Manalapan (1st)
Jordyn Katz, Jr., Jackson Memorial (2nd)
Ana Gonzalez, Sr., Lakewood (2nd)
Ella Yanuzzelli, Fr., Southern (3rd)
Gina Novello, Sr., Jackson Memorial (4th)
Mia Lazaurs, Sr., Raritan (1st)
Alexsandra Bieszczad, Sr., Jackson Memorial (2nd)