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FLEMINGTON – Through all the thrills, upsets and surprises of the NJSIAA Central Super Region Tournament, St. John Vianney senior Blake Clayton somehow became one of the forgotten men of the entire weekend.

That isn’t a statement made with a negative connotation, far from it, really. The fireworks surrounding Clayton stole the show on Sunday evening at the Hunterdon Central Field House. Meanwhile, Clayton methodically went about his business in the 195-pound weight class, winning his first three bouts by fall before a tidy 3-0 victory over Rumson-Fair Haven freshman Hudson Skove in the championship bout.

It is the second region title for Clayton, who joined Dean Peterson and Nick Caracappa as the only two-time region champions in SJV program history.

“I started off really strong but I would have like to get a little bit more out of that last match,” Clayton said. “But a win is a win at the end of the day. I’m happy about it.”

Skove, the son of two-time region champion Thomas Skove, that of the legendary Long Branch wrestling dynasty, has been very impressive during his freshman season. Solid in technique and demeanor, he made Clayton work for every point and positional advantage.

“He was in a great stance and it was hard to get to my attacks like I was doing early,” Clayton said. “The kid is a great wrestler. He’s a freshman and I give him a lot of props.”

But as Clayton said, any win at this point of the season is a good one, whether by 15 points or one.

The Shore Conference will have several legitimate state-title contenders next weekend at the NJSIAA Championships and Clayton is absolutely one of them. He was third in the state at 182 pounds last season and his criteria should earn him the top seed in the bracket.

“That’s the goal, that’s the dram since I started wrestling when I was three,” Clayton said. “Last year I took third and it was a great tournament, but this year I’m definitely going for No. 1, no doubt about it."

 

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