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FLEMINGTON – Logan Waller was on the verge of having his dreams of winning a region title dashed via injury default. But as he lay on the mat trying to recover he thought of a quote Colts Neck head coach Brett Jankos often says.

“Coach Jankos always says, ‘You don’t make it this far to only make it this far’,” Waller said. “In that moment I said screw this, I’m not losing here. I had no doubt I was going to continue. At this moment it’s the biggest tournament of my life and there’s no way I’m going to quit here.”

After landing on his head during a mat return in the third period, Waller was able to regroup and continue the bout. Tied 3-3 after the restart, Waller escaped and then scored a takedown on his way to defeating Matawan’s Kamrin O’Neill, 6-4, to win the NJSIAA Central Super Region 145-pound title on Saturday at Hunterdon Central Regional High School.

After a scoreless first period, Waller escaped to take a 1-0 lead and then took O’Neill down with 13 seconds left in the second period to bring a 3-0 advantage into the third period. O’Neill escaped to make it 3-1 and then got in on Waller. That’s when the injury occurred that nearly ended Waller’s title hopes.

“I went for a Granby Roll as he mat returned me and it got me right on the top of the head,” Waller said.

An injury to the head and neck area grants a wrestler five minutes of injury time to recover rather than the usual two minutes, and Waller used nearly all of it. But once he was able to shake off the damage and get back to the mat he did not look restricted.

“I just put my head down, both literally and metaphorically,” Waller said. “My parents have been saying it all week; today is your day, make a statement.”

The region title is the first for Waller, who was a Region 6 runner-up at 138 pounds last season. He gives Colts Neck a region champ for the third straight year for the first time in program history. It denied O’Neill the title, which would have been Matawan’s first since 2010.

“Kamrin, I have nothing but respect for him,” Waller said. “He’s one of my club partners at Elite and it’s very hard because we know each other, but you have no friends when you step on the mat.”

Two bouts earlier, Christian Brothers Academy’s Julian George won the 132-pound title with an impressive 4-2 victory over Shore Regional senior Jack Maida. George fell behind early when Maida scored the opening takedown but the CBA sophomore was in control from that point on. He escaped to cut the lead to 2-1 and did so again early in the second. He followed with a takedown to go ahead, 4-2, and then rode Maida out for the remainder of the period and then for the entirety of the third period.

“He’s real strong and a real talented and aggressive wrestler and I knew it was going to be a dogfight until the end,” George said. “He took me down first but that’s where I live, comeback situations. I’ve done it so many times in my career that I knew there was no reason I couldn’t come back from a 2-0 deficit and win the match.”

George’s riding ability was the difference. He enveloped Maida, a four-time state qualifier who is signed to wrestler at American University, from the top position.

“I’m always trying to turn kids but against a good kid like Maida you know that’s going to be tough, and in that situation I knew I needed to ride him for two minutes,” George said. “I work on it every practice, top game and scrambles. Those are my two main focuses and it won me that match.”

Last season as a freshman, George was a district runner-up and third in Region 6 before advancing to the fourth round of wrestlebacks at the NJSIAA Championships. It was a successful freshman season for sure, but those close calls, including finishing one win short of a state medal, stoked the fire for this season.

“Third at regions stung, honestly,” George said. “I was hoping to win that and then blood round at states…man, that’s the toughest loss of my career, maybe. Coming into this season I was extra hungry, I knew I had to change some things and I was ready.”

This isn’t the end. Super Region champ was obviously a goal but the ultimate goal is a state title.”

Punching Their Tickets

Freehold Township freshman Giovanni Scafidi finished second at 138 pounds, falling by a 6-5 decision to Old Bridge’s Tyler Sagi. Scafidi was vying to become the Patriots’ first region champion since Rob Morello in 2001…Middletown South’s David Hussey came from the No. 6 seed to take third at 138 pounds, beating the top seed, Hunterdon Central’s Nick Canonica, 5-1, in the third-place bout…Point Beach senior Riley Simon placed third at 145 pounds to become a two-time state qualifier…Brick Memorial senior Nick Torre locked up his first trip to the state tournament by placing fourth at 132 pounds…Wall freshman Donovan DiStefano, the No. 4 seed, placed fourth at 145 pounds.

 

Results

Finals

 

132: 2-Julian George (CBA) d. 1-Jack Maida (Shore), 4-2

138: 2-Tyler Sagi (Old Bridge) d. 4-Giovanni Scafidi (Freehold Township), 6-5

145: 2-Logan Waller (Colts Neck) d. 1-Kamrin O'Neill (Matawan), 6-4

Third-Place

 

132: 3-Drake Torrington (Robbinsville) d. 5-Nick Torre (Brick Memorial), 8-3

138: 6-David Hussey (Middletown South) d. 1-Nick Canonica (Hunterdon Central), 5-1

145: 3-Riley Simon (Point Beach) p. 6-Donovan DiStefano (Wall), 5:45

Fifth-Place

 

132: 10-Robert Generelli (Middletown South) md. 4-Mike Bruno (Wall), 15-7

138: 2-Zach Weiner (Spotswood) d. 8-Braden Scot (Brick Memorial), 4-2

145: 9-Alex Quintano (Middletown South) d. 13-Nick Benner (Ocean), 9-5

 

Complete Results

 

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