St. John Vianney’s Anthony Knox and Jasaiah Queen, Southern’s Matt Henrich claim Escape the Rock wrestling titles
The singular wrestling championship that eluded Anthony Knox during his tremendous freshman season will now be making its way back to Monmouth County.
Knox, the reigning NJSIAA 113-pound state champion, secured the 121-pound title and was named Most Outstanding Wrestler on Sunday during the Escape the Rock Tournament at Council Rock South (Pa.) High School. Seeded first in his weight class and ranked No. 4 in the nation by FloWrestling, Knox rolled to a 9-2 victory over No. 2 seed/12th ranked Gauge Botero of Faith Christian Academy (Pa.).
Knox won by technical fall in his first bout, won by 14-2 major decision over Camden Catholic standout freshman Sammy Spaulding in the quarterfinals, and bested Holy Spirit state medalist Max Elton, 7-1, in the semifinals. Knox and Botero previously squared off in the Beast of the East semifinals with Knox winning, 3-0, but this time Knox was able to get to his offense more often and emerged with a seven-point victory.
Knox's only high school defeat came at last season's Escape the Rock Tournament when he lost in the 113-pound final to Delaware Valley's (Pa.) Zachary Jacaruso, 6-4 in sudden victory. Knox went on to win the state title and currently has a 49-1 high school record.
Joining Knox on top of the medal stand was teammate Jasiah Queen. The Lancers' standout senior, seeded No. 2, defeated Council Rock South's Bekhruz Sadriddinov, 5-3, to win the 160-pound title. Queen opened up a 4-1 lead and held off Sadriddinov in the third period to win his first tournament title of the season. Queen, who was fifth in the state at 157 pounds last season, finished second at both the Beast of the East and Sam Cali Memorial tournaments. Queen is 17-3 this season.
St. John Vianney finished 12th in the team standings with sophomore Jake Zaltsman also placing via an 8th-place finish at 127 pounds. Sophomore Patrick O'Keefe, last season's NJ 106-pound state tournament runner-up, did not compete in the tournament.
At 152 pounds, Southern Regional junior Matt Henrich came from the No. 5 seed to win the championship, which included upending the top seed in the semifinals. Henrich squared off against Blair Academy's Paul Ognissanti in the semifinals and dominated the bout, hitting a five-point move in the second period en route to an 8-1 victory.
In the championship bout, Henrich scored the first offensive points when he took down Malvern Prep's Nathan Rickard in the second period for a 2-1 lead. Henrich escaped in the third period to take a 3-1 lead, but Rickard scored the tying takedown with 30 seconds left to force overtime. In the sudden victory period, Henrich scored the title-clinching takedown off a restart.
Henrich finished 7th in the state at 138 pounds last season and is off to an 18-3 start this season.
Southern, the No. 1 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, finished ninth in the team standings and had the highest finish of any public school. Senior heavyweight Anthony Evangelista finished 6th. Standout senior Connor Collins, a two-time state top-three finisher who is committed to Army, did not compete in the tournament.
Although Christian Brothers Academy did not have a champion in the tournament, the Colts finished eighth as a team and had five medalists. Senior Julian George placed second at 145 pounds after he was defeated by Quakertown's Collin Gaj, 6-2, in the championship bout. Senior Zander Silva finished third at 160 pounds, senior Robert Canterino placed fourth at 215 pounds, junior Alex Nini was sixth at 139 pounds, and senior Tyler Barrett was seventh at 152 pounds.