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After finishing third in the state as a sophomore, last year was supposed to be the year that Jackson Memorial's Skyelar Smith made a run at a wrestling state title.

Instead, Smith was knocked out of the region tournament before it even began due to Covid protocols. She was one of the state's best, but never got the chance to show it. A year later, she clawed her way back to the big stage, and in her final high school bout, she reached the top of the mountain.

In the NJSIAA 138-pound girls state final on Sunday evening at Phillipsburg High School, Smith built a 7-2 lead against returning state champion Jayla Hahn of Central Regional before winning by injury default with 30 seconds left in the bout to become the first girls wrestling state champion in Jaguars history.

Smith, who defeated Delran two-time state champion Emma Matera in the semifinals, was voted as the state tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler.

After a scoreless first period, Smith chose bottom and escaped 12 seconds into the period to take a 1-0 lead. Late in the period, the two scrambled as Hahn used a whizzer to try to counter Smith's takedown attempt. Smith was able to secure the takedown to stretch her lead to 3-0 and immediately put Hahn to her back with 15 seconds on the clock in the period. Hahn avoided the fall to keep the match going but Smith now led 6-0 entering the third period.

Hahn went bottom to start the third period and immediately scored a reversal to make it 6-2. Smith escaped less than 10 seconds later and as the two stood at neutral Hahn reached for her arm and was clearly favoring it the rest of the way, apparently a product of the sequence at the end of the second period. The bout continued until Hahn was forced to injury default at the 5:30 mark.

Jackson Memorial has been at the forefront of girls wrestling in New Jersey and now Smith, individually, has her place in history as the Jaguars' first female state champion. She is Jackson's first state champion since Dallas Winston won the 182-pound title in 2012 and the 16th overall state champion in program history.

In the semifinals, Smith won 5-1 over Matera on the strength of a takedown and two near-fall points in the second period. It was her second win over Matera this season.

At the beginning of the season, it was clear the 138-pound weight class was going to be a gauntlet with Matera, Hahn, and Smith all vying for the title. Smith came out on top and finished with a 2-1 record against both Hahn and Matera. She lost to Matera by fall in the semifinals of the Queen of the East tournament but came back to defeat her, 3-2, at the Somerville Lady Pioneers Invitational. She then won the rubber match in the state semifinals. Against Hahn, Smith won 3-2 in the third-place bout at the Queen of the East and Hahn defeated her, 3-1, in the South Region final. Smith got her revenge in the state final.

Brick's Jade Huerta Caps Breakout Season as State Runner-Up 

Brick Township junior Jade Huerta finished second in the state at 165 to conclude a great season in which she emerged as one of the state's best.

Huerta was the No. 2 seed and avenged a loss to Kingsway's Kyla Norman with an 8-2 victory in the semifinals. Norman had defeated Huerta in the South Region final. The 165-pound bracket belonged to High Point senior Noelle Gaffney, however, who pinned her way to the state title as the No. 5 seed. She pinned Jackson Memorial's Abigail Stanberry in the quarterfinals, pinned the top seed, Kittatinny's Kierra Hubmaster, in the semifinals and then pinned Huerta in the state final.

After a scoreless first period, Huerta scored a reversal to take a 2-1 lead but Gaffney escaped and took Huerta down to go up 3-2. Another escape tied the bout 3-3 before Gaffney's second takedown gave her a 5-3 lead. Huerta escaped with 10 seconds left to make it 5-4 entering the third period. Gaffney escaped in the third to go up 6-4 and then threw Huerta directly to her back for a fall at the 4:17 mark.

Huerta, who won the Shore Conference Tournament 165-pound title, is Brick's first female state finalist and the program's first state finalist, male or female, since Dan McCollough won the 188-pound state title in 1974.

Jackson Memorial's Jordyn Katz Wins Fourth State Medal, Leads 11 Top-Six Placewinners

Jackson Memorial senior Jordyn Katz finished third at 145 pounds to become the first girl and the third wrestler overall in Jaguars' history to be a four-time state medalist. She joins Lou Durant (1975-1978) and currently Jackson head coach Doug Withstandley (1998-2001) with four trips to the podium.

Stanberry, a senior, finished third at 165 for her third state medal and Middletown South freshman Caitlin O'Reilly finished third at 107 pounds.

Placing fourth were Lakewood junior Jesenia Camargo at 107, Southern senior Gracie Cordasco at 114, Southern sophomore Ella Yanuzzelli at 152, Jackson Memorial senior Chloe Lawler at 126, and Jackson Memorial junior Kamila Biezczad at 132.

Lawler and Biezczad are now both two-time state medalists.

Lakewood junior Litzy Argueta (100), Freehold Township freshman Sophia Santorelli (145) and Jackson Memorial senior Brianna Fairchild (185) each finished in sixth place.

 

 

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