EAST HANOVER, NJ- The goal for Nick Raimo wasn’t just to win the state championship after falling in the final a year ago. It was to dominate.
Advancing through the tournament with a pin, a tech fall and two major decisions, all that was left was the championship match.
Scoring early and often, Hanover Park’s Raimo was in control the entire match. Beating Howell’s Kyle Slendorn 10-4 Sunday in the 126 pound championship at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
“My goal coming into this tournament was to prove I’m one of the most dominate wrestlers in the state and I think I just did that,” Raimo said.
42 seconds into the match Raimo went ahead with a take down. By the end of the first his lead had grown to 6-2. A reversal in the second period gave the sophomore a six point lead heading into the final period.
“I go out and wrestle my style, do what I do best. I just like to score as many points as I can,” Raimo said. “My underhooks and front heads were there. I felt comfortable the whole match.”
The only time Raimo didn’t feel comfortable was in the third period when an old, nagging ankle injury flared up as he was attempting a kick out. It couldn’t stop Raimo who was on a mission after coming up short last year.
“Last year fell just a little short and that made me work harder for today,” he said.
Raising both hands into the air after the final horn was his way to embrace the satisfaction of accomplishing what he had sent out to do. He ends the year with a 40-1 record.
A large group of Hanover Park teammates were waiting for Raimo as he came off the floor. Five of them joined him in competing in the championships over the weekend.
Junior Matt Liberato (160 pounds) and senior Rory DeLuca (195 pounds) had the best finish of the rest going 2-2 in the tournament. Sophomore Domenic Difrancescantonio (113 pounds), senior Lou Raimo (132 pounds) and junior Sean Conley (138 pounds) all went 1-2.