ATLANTIC CITY – To win a state championship, Toms River South’s Cole Corrigan used a hold not even his own coaches saw coming.

With the championship bout tied at two in the third period, Corrigan locked in a far-side cradle for three near-fall points and held on to defeat Phillipsburg’s Brian Meyer, 5-4, to win the NJSIAA 152-pound state title on Sunday evening inside Boardwalk Hall.

“It’s the greatest moment of my life,” Corrigan said. “When you do something you tell yourself you’re going to do there’s no better feeling.”

Of all the ways Toms River South head coach Ron Laycock envisioned Corrigan winning a state championship, hitting a cradle was far down the list.

“There was a blood timeout after and I sat down in the chair and said to (assistant coach) Paul (Sternlieb), ‘When was the last time he threw a far-side cradle?’. The kid stepped up with the outside leg and he – no hesitation – slapped that thing on. The kid was on his inside hip and I’m like ‘oh my god, he’s going to take him over with it' and he did. I couldn’t believe it.”

“I’m good with a cradle but I never really hit them,” Corrigan said. “It was there though and I saw the opportunity and I locked it up real quick.”

Meyer scored first with a first-period takedown but Corrigan escaped to cut the deficit to 2-1. After Meyer deferred his choice and Corrigan chose defense to start the second period, he worked back to neutral to tie the score at two heading to the third. The cradle nearly pinned Meyer, but the three back points gave Corrigan a 5-2 lead with 1:25 left in regulation. He rode Meyer out for a good 45 seconds before he was hit for stalling. He was called for stalling again as the clock ticked under 10 seconds to give Meyer and point, and he then cut Meyer lose at the three-second mark before peeling away and jumping into Laycock’s arms as a state champion.

“To be honest, going into the third I’m thinking this kid is going to get out and we’re going to need a takedown, and we struggled to get to his legs,” Laycock said. “We couldn’t get him out of position, so when he slapped that cradle on it was a gigantic relief. That’s why you drill holds. It’s a hold we drilled many teams and he found it.”

Corrigan is the eighth state champion for Toms River South and the first since B.J. Clagon won back-to-back state titles in 2012 and 2013.

The road to a state championship was long and undulating for Corrigan, but that path made winning a state title even more gratifying. Corrigan finished seventh in the state as a sophomore, prompting high expectations heading into his junior year. He reached the state quarterfinals last season but lost there and then in the blood round to leave Atlantic City without a state medal. His mission was to get back as a senior and finish it off at the very top.

“There’s a real love-hate relationship with this sport and I’d have to say for Cole after we left this tournament the last three years it’s been a hate relationship,” Laycock said. “If you look at his entire career he’s a four-time region finalist, four-time district champ and he really had nothing to show for it. Sophomore year, the Howell kid (Kris Lindemann) who beat him in the region final, that was the blood round and the kid injury-defaulted, so it was possible he may not have even placed if the kid was healthy.”

The key was the mental aspect of wrestling, and that is what made all the difference for Corrigan as a senior.

“In his mind when he left here last year he knew he had to fix the mental part of the game,” Laycock said. “He has all the physical talent but he needed to have a good tournament here. The one thing he hadn’t done well in his career was have a good state tournament. His focus this weekend was unlike anything I’ve seen.”

“I can’t even begin to explain,” Corrigan said. “It feels like it took me an eternity to get here, but I stayed focused this whole year and grinded hard, and I knew that was going to get me the state title.”

Corrigan will head to Columbia University next season. In the media guide it will list all of his high school wrestling accomplishments and include the two words he’s been obsessed with since he started in the sport: state champion.

“It’s music to my ears,” Corrigan said.


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