ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- The 2020 NJSIAA State Individual Championships took place over the course of the last three days at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, and three Piscataway High School grapplers made the trip down south to compete.

Marcus Petite, a 170-pounder, placed on the podium in seventh place at his weight. The senior beat his given No. 13 seed.

In the seventh-place bout, Petite defeated seventh-seeded Colin Loughney of West Morris, 4-2. Petite received hugs all around from coaches and those who support him down on the mat after the match.

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"It feels great to get on the podium, but even better to end with a win as it gives me just the edge up on my brother, Mike,” Petite said.

After no points were scored in the first period, Loughney took a 2-0 lead on a reversal. Thirteen seconds later, Petite got out for an escape point and then gained control of the bout with a takedown with 12 seconds remaining in the second. Petite notched another escape point in the third with 1:49 to go and that was all she wrote.

Petite started his journey with a solid 7-1 win in the first round over Cresskill’s 20th-seeded Tim Coffey. He then pinned Nicholas Russo, the 29th-seed from Parsippany Hills, in 4:56. But, Petite ran into 12th-seeded Jack Kelly of Rumson-Fair Haven in the quarterfinals and was pinned in 1:05. Kelly’s win marked his third over Petite this year.

Now in the consolation bracket, Petite scored a pin in 4:31 over 16th-seeded James Holder of North Hunterdon in the “blood round”. The win ensured Petite would place, make his way to the podium, and take home a medal. Petite pinned Holder in last weekend’s Region 5 final as well. In the wrestleback quarterfinals, though, Petite lost to ninth-seeded Luke Benedict from Haddonfield, 5-1, dropping him into the seventh-place match against Loughney.

Kelly beat Benedict for fifth place.

“Petite had a great run to top off his high school career and he peaked at the perfect time,” Piscataway coach Dan Smith said. “After winning Regions and going 4-2 at state’s with two of those wins being pins, we are very proud of his performance and wish him the best as he looks to continue his career at the collegiate level.”

This season, Petite won silver at the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament to Carteret’s Jacob Vega, who NJ.com ranks No. 5 at 170. Vega took third on Saturday. 

“It was just fun,” Petite added of his tournament overall. “I love wrestling and I love to just have fun and do what I have to do. I love this sport and I’m going to miss wrestling for my high school.”

Two other Chiefs, 113-pounder Desmond Pleasant and 182-pounder Nicholas Lodato, joined Petite in Atlantic City in the tournament as well.

“It was cool because I’m good friends with both of them and I’ve been wrestling with them for years,” Petite said. “It was even better because we have been going to private and club practices together to get better and it’s great to see that work finally pay off for all of us.”

The 20th-seeded Pleasant fell in the opening round to 13th-seeded Aaron Kurzer of Montville, 9-4, but the junior fought back, just like he did at Region 5 when he won all three of his wrestleback matches to finish in third to make it to Boardwalk Hall. Pleasant won two consolation matches against 29th-seeded Merlin Senat of Orange, 10-5, and Matawan’s 19th-seeded David Rubin, 6-2. Pleasant fell in the third wrestleback round, 10-6, to 21st-seeded Brady Conlin of Williamstown, who went on to win his next bout.

This year, Pleasant took second in the 113-pound weight class at the GMCT and third at District 18 and third at Region 5.

For Lodato, he had himself a nice little run. Lodato, who was seeded 14th at 182, defeated 19th-seeded Nick Marshall of St. Augustine, 7-4, in the first round before falling in a tight match, 8-6, in the next round to third-seeded Isaac Dean of Shawnee. Dean is ranked No. 7 at 182 in the latest rankings by NJ.com.

In wrestlebacks, the junior Lodato won by major decision, 19-6, over 29th-seeded Ben LoPro of Southern, and by decision against 28th-seeded Gavin Shields of West Deptford, 9-6, but lost in the blood round in the wrestleback fourth round to eighth-seeded Blake Clayton of St. John Vianney by a pin in 42 seconds.

Had Lodato won, he could have at least battled for seventh place. The top eight grapplers at each weight make the podium.

Nonetheless, Lodato won gold at the GMCT, earned a first place finish at District 18, and took third at Region 5.

“Pleasant and Lodato ended their season in impressive fashion,” Smith said. “Pleasant had a tough road through the postseason and not only made the states for the first time but finished in the top 16. Lodato made some big improvements. He earned himself a District title and battled his way to being one match away from placing. He wrestled his best matches both technically and mentally.”

Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.

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