ATLANTIC CITY -- Five Shore Conference wrestlers advanced to the semifinals of the NJSIAA Individual Championships on Saturday afternoon at Boardwalk Hall.

Howell junior Kyle Slendorn at 126 pounds, Brick Memorial senior Gianni Ghione at 132, Ocean junior Jake Benner at 138, Wall sophomore Rob Kanniard at 152 and Howell senior Eric Keosseian at 220 each won their quarterfinal bouts and will wrestle for a spot in the state finals tonight at 6 p.m.

By reaching the state semifinals, each is guaranteed no worse than a sixth-place finish.

Slendorn, the No. 7 seed, scored one of the bigger upsets of the quarterfinals when he edged No. 2 seed Shane Metzler of West Morris, 5-4. Down 4-2 in the second period, Slendorn tied the bout with a takedown before riding out Metzler the rest of the period. He escaped in the third period to take a 5-4 lead and held on through a scramble in the closing seconds.


Slendorn will face the No. 6 seed, Paulsboro senior Anthony Duca, in the semifinals. Duca handed Slendorn his only loss of the season during the opening weekend, a 20-9 major decision.

Ghione, the No. 1 seed at 132, defeated Queen of Peace's Ray Wetzel, 7-3. He will wrestle New Milford senior John Burger (39-1) in the semifinals. It is the second state semifinals appearance for Ghione, who was the 113-pound state runner-up as a sophomore.

Benner, the No. 3 seed, used a takedown off a scramble late in the third period to beat Don Bosco Prep senior Evan DeLuise, 3-1. This is the first semifinal appearance and first state medal for Benner, who was one win away from an all-state finish last season. Benner gets Cranford senior Tom Digiovanni in the semifinals after Digiovanni, the No. 10 seed, bested second seeded Travis Layton (Woodstown), 10-8.


Kanniard continued his superb sophomore season with a 6-0 victory over St. Augustine senior Dillon Taylor to advance to the semifinals and secure a state medal. Kanniard now has the daunting task of facing the No. 1 seed and defending state champ, Bound Brook senior Stephan Glasgow, in the semifinals. Glasgow is ranked No. 3 in the nation by FloWrestling.

Keosseian made it two Rebels in the semifinals by defeating Montville's Liridon Leka, 10-4, to advance to meet South Plainfield sophomore Zach DelVecchio. In another quarterfinal bout, DelVecchio defeated the No. 2 seed Robert Melise (Phillipsburg), 2-1 in ultimate tiebreaker, when Melise was called for locking hands.  

Wrestling editor Bob Badders can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.


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