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Two Shore Conference hammers smashed their respective brackets at one of the nation's most prestigious high school wrestling tournaments.

St. John Vianney junior Anthony Knox cruised to his second straight championship while Brick Memorial junior Harvey Ludington steamrolled the 190-pound bracket to win his first title on Sunday afternoon during the 31st annual Beast of the East tournament at the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center.

Ludington was especially dominant in returning to the championship round and securing his first Beast of the East title. The Mustangs junior, who is verbally committed to Arizona State University, won all five of his bouts by bonus points. Seeded No. 1 at the weight, Ludington received a bye in the first round, won by major decision in the second round, and won by fall in the round of 16. He won by 15-1 major decision over Faith Christian Academy's (Pa.) Cody Wagner and then defeated fourth-seeded Nick Wehmeyer of Malvern Prep (Pa.) by 11-1 major decision in the semifinals. He punctuated a statement-making tournament by pinning Paramus Catholic's Daniel Rella, the No. 2 seed, in 4:17 to win the title. Rella was fourth in the state at 165 pounds last season.

Bob Badders |
Bob Badders |

Ludington won the NJSIAA 175-pound state championship as a freshman and finished as the 175-pound state runner-up last season, losing 3-2 to Delbarton's Simon Ruiz, who is currently a freshman at Cornell University.

Earlier in the tournament, Knox secured the 126-pound title with a 16-9 victory over Camden Catholic sophomore Sammy Spaulding to win his second straight Beast of the East championship. Knox is ranked as the No. 1 126-pounder in the nation by MatScouts and was seeded first for the tournament. He won by fall in each of his first three bouts before an 8-4 victory over Bergen Catholic's Brian Melamud in the quarterfinals. He then defeated Howell senior Sebastian Ortega in the semifinals, 3-1, on the strength of a takedown early in the second period.

Knox built a 6-2 lead after the first period of the championship bout with three takedowns. Spaulding was able to close the gap with a reversal in the second period and a takedown in the third period, but Knox continued to pile up the points with three more takedowns over the final two periods to win by seven and add another first-place trophy to his vast collection.

Knox is a two-time NJSIAA state champion and has a 78-1 career record. He won a Super 32 title during the fall and announced his verbal commitment to wrestle at Cornell University.

St. John Vianney's Anthony Knox vs. Matawan's Lawrence Liss during the pre-quarterfinal round of the 2023 NJSIAA Wrestling State Championships at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. (Photo: Bob Badders |
Bob Badders |

Knox and Ludington led the charge for the Shore Conference, which had seven wrestlers finish on the medal stand.

Rumson-Fair Haven senior Hudson Skove, last season's NJSIAA 215-pound state champion who is committed to Harvard, won all of his contested bouts but finished second when he had to medically forfeit the championship bout. The injury is not expected to keep him out long-term. Skove was seeded first and reached the championship bout with a 3-1 semifinal victory over St. Joseph (Metuchen) senior Brian Christie, who was a region champion last season. Seventh-seeded James Miller of Selesianum (De.) ended up as the champion when Skove had to forfeit.

At 126 pounds, Sebastian Ortega wrestled back to place third after his semifinal loss to Knox. A state medalist as a sophomore, Ortega reached the quarterfinals as the No. 5 seed and defeated fourth-seeded Evan Sanati of Brentsville (Va.), 3-2, to guarantee a top-six finish. In the consolation bracket, he defeated eighth-seeded Ethan Uhorchuck of Signal Mountain (TN), 4-2, and topped Delbarton's Ryan DeGeorge, the No. 7 seed, 3-0, to finish third.

Rumson-Fair Haven freshman Sonny Amato offered a glimpse of his potential by finishing fourth at 144 pounds. The unseeded frosh beat the No. 14 seed in the second round, upset third-seeded Santino Rodriguez of Don Bosco Prep, 6-0, in the round of 16, and topped sixth-seeded Maddox Shaw of Thomas Jefferson (Pa.), 2-1, in the quarterfinals. He lost a 1-0 decision to No. 2 seed Chase Van Hoven of Brooke Point (Va.) in the semifinals to drop into the consolation bracket. From there, he defeated 11th-seeded Tyson Sherlock of the Gilman School (Md.) in the consolation semifinals before falling 2-0 to No. 1 seed Logan Rozynski of Blair Academy in the third-place bout.

Also placing were Howell junior Xavier Ortega and St. John Vianney junior Jake Zaltsman, who finished eighth at 132 and 138 pounds, respectively. Ortega won two bouts in the championship bracket and three more in the consolation bracket to reach the eight-place bout. Zaltsman wrestled to his seed as the No. 8 seed, winning three bouts in the championship bracket before falling to No. 1 seed Carter Nogle of Mount St. Joseph (Md.), 4-2 in sudden victory in the round of 16. Zaltsman won an additional bout in the consolation bracket before dropping his next two to finish eighth.



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