ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – Boardwalk Hall did not treat Montville’s Dominic Fano and Parker Fox well when the duo represented the Mustangs last year in the NJSIAA Individual Wrestling State Championships.

One year later, after not escaping the first round of either the championship or consolation bracket, Fano and Fox each placed in the Top 8 of their weight classes in the 2017 state title tournament.

Wrestling for only his third season ever, Fox, Montville’s senior heavyweight, finished fourth in the state, losing to Montgomery’s Dylan D’Amore in an ultimate tie-breaker, 3-2.

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Fox said the biggest change from last season’s early ouster was his mental stability throughout the state tournament.

“Last year, I came in here, the stadium, the lights, its huge and hard to get past,” Fox said. “Last year was the first time I’ve seen this. I came here to watch my brother wrestle before so I’ve seen it, but I’ve never wrestled in such a gigantic atmosphere.”

Fano placed eighth in the 152-pound weight class after falling to St. Augustine Prep’s Dillon Taylor, 3-2.

“Last year when I came into the tournament I lost my first two,” Fano said. “It was really disappointing. I had to think to improve from that. I came into the tournament with high standards and I finished in the top 8.”

For both Montville wrestlers, the importance of their individual finish is what it does for their program’s future.

“I’ve had some freshman talking to me, saying ‘Oh, you’re so good for wrestling for three years,’” Fox said. “I say, ‘Yeah, I’ve been working hard.’ Its really an example. It shows them how a lot of work can get you to where you are no matter where you start from.”

Fano hopes that the state tournament success of this year’s Montville wrestlers (junior 138 pound Connor Meytrott and junior 220 pound Liridon Leka both wrestled in the state tournament as well) will help grow the future of the program.

“It kind of promotes the feeder program to want to come to the high school,” Fano said. “A lot of kids go to private schools that really hurt us. Hopefully this will motivate them to come to Montville.”

Aside from Fano and Fox’s finish, Leka was one win shy of a medal, while Meytrott lost in the third round of wrestle backs.