Tyree Sutton Makes History as Keansburg’s First Region VI Wrestling Champion
TOMS RIVER - Despite no Keansburg wrestler having ever won a Region VI title, senior Tyree Sutton was in the odd position of being a disappointment if he didn't make history at Saturday's tournament at Pine Belt Arena.
A state championship contender who became the first state place-winner in Titans history as a junior, Sutton entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed at 195. Still, it was no gimme that he was going to be the first Keansburg wrestler atop the podium in Region VI considering he was facing undefeated Wall sophomore Matt McKenzie in the final.
"McKenzie's a tough wrestler and anything could happen out there in a one-point match, but (Sutton) wrestled well,'' Keansburg coach Chris DeTalvo said. "He expects to win."
If it's possible to score a decisive 1-0 win, Sutton did just that on Saturday, riding out McKenzie for the entire second period, escaping in the third period and then taking the fight to McKenzie the rest of the way to make history. He also improved to 39-0 in the process.
"It's amazing because I had doubters, and I like to prove them wrong,'' Sutton said. "I actually anticipated scoring a lot more points. I wanted to get to my offense, but I won the match, and that's the main thing that matters."
Sutton, who took sixth in the state at 195 last season, is hoping for a storybook finish to a career that has taken numerous twists and turns at Keansburg. As a sophomore, he was declared academically ineligible, and the August before his junior year in 2013, he became a father of a son, Tyree Jr. He pulled it together last season to become only the second two-time District champion in Keansburg history before becoming the first Titans wrestler to ever place in the top eight in the NJSIAA Individual Championships in Atlantic City.
Considering he's faced pressure off the mat that far exceeds anything he could see on it, he had no problem with the fact that he was expected to do something that no one in the program had ever done.
"I got the shirt that says, 'Keep calm and wrestle on,' and that's what I did,'' he said.
Sutton also has served as an inspiration for the younger wrestlers at the small Group I school. He now has 96 career wins as he tries to become the first wrestler in program history to reach 100.
"We have a solid rec program that's been doing better each year, and our middle-school program as well, and now this is someone they can all look up to,'' DeTalvo said.
The biggest intrigue surrounding Sutton heading into the postseason was what weight he would wrestle at in the state tournament, 195 or 220. During the regular season, he scored a 5-0 decision over Middletown North's Chad Freshnock, who won the Region VI title at 220 on Saturday, and he also beat Moorestown's Tyreek Smith, a state place-winner who is considered one of the top contenders to win the state title at 220. However, Sutton decided to take what many consider a harder road in the state tournament by wrestling at 195.
"I felt like it was more competitive at this weight class, and I was only weighing 202 all season,'' Sutton said.
While a bit undersized at 220, he is a powerful 195-pounder, as he showed on Saturday in riding out another strong wrestler in McKenzie for an entire period.
"We explained to him that 220 was probably the weight that would've been a little bit easier for him, and he wanted to win it at the weight that was more competitive, so he lost about 10 pounds, and he's getting it done,'' DeTalvo said.
Sutton is looking at several junior colleges for next season, according to DeTalvo, including juco power Western Wyoming. All that's left now is becoming the first Titans wrestler to ever be the last man standing in Atlantic City.
"I'm just trying to make history,'' Sutton said.