NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Pioneer wrestling standout Tyler Gazaway is heading to historic Boardwalk Hall this weekend for the annual state wrestling tournament in Atlantic City.

Gazaway, a sophomore, will represent the Pioneers as the only wrestler to participate in this prestigious event.

However, the odds will be stacked against him, being that he is coming from a small school and he is in one of the most competitive weight classes at 126 pounds, but his coach has high praise of him regardless.

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“I’m happy that he’s there as a sophomore,” head coach Gary Bremer said. “I’ve had really good wrestlers who never made it this far and I’ve had some who only made it when they were seniors. It’s really a big achievement for him.”

Gazaway credits his success this season to, “A lot of hard work and dedication”, as well as just “wanting to win”.

The reason Gazaway is making his first of potentially multiple appearances this weekend in Atlantic City was due to his unbelievable success and work ethic on and off the mat.

The Pioneer posted a solid 16-4 record on this year’s campaign, with two victories coming via a pin.

“He works 12 months a year, he works exceedingly hard in practices, and he does every possible extra workout,” said Bremer.  “He has a phenomenal work ethic.”

Gazaway’s route to states wasn’t an easy one, as he defeated rival Summit’s Michael Acitelli in a slim 4-3 decision in the Region 3 quarterfinal round, followed by a triumph over Daniel Hedden of South Plainfield by the same score, thus clinching a berth in this weekend’s event.

Later that day, he dropped the championship match to Delbarton's Christian Innarella, but the main goal was already accomplished.

Despite being the only wrestler to represent the Pioneers on Friday, he was a key component to the overall success of the New Providence team, thanks to his positive and influential mentality and support on and off the mat.

“I have been able to help my teammates by pushing them during practice and wrestling them as hard as I could,” Gazaway said.  “(I’m) just doing everything as best as I can in order to lead by example.

“He has been a very positive influence,” said Bremer.  “He sets the pace in the room and he’s just a kid who makes everyone better because he works so hard.”

Gazaway’s run at a state championship begins on Friday as he takes on Clearview's Michael Van Brill with the winner taking on North Hunterdon’s Ryan Pomrinca.

Check back with TAP all weekend for updates on Gazaway's success in Atlantic City.