SOMERSET, N.J. -- Piscataway High School wrestler Marcus Petite won the 170-pound Region 5 championship on Saturday at Franklin High.
The second-seeded Petite, a senior who earned his 100th career win in mid-February, pinned North Hunterdon’s fourth-seeded James Holder in 1:28.
In the semifinals, Petite forced third-seeded Victor Wladika of Holmdel to his back and the official slapped his hand on the mat 3:15 into the match for a fall as well. Petite also pinned Montgomery’s Alex Ipeker in 1:48 in the quarterfinals and Red Bank Regional’s 15th-seeded Will DalPra in 3:13 in the first round.
The pinpool was strong.
“Petite’s hard work over the years is really paying off and he finally reached one of his main goals of making it to the state tournament,” said Piscataway coach Dan Smith. “He pinned his way through the Region tournament which is a really impressive feat.”
Petite was on a collision course with top-seeded Jack Kelly from Rumson-Fair Haven, who beat Petite twice this season including in the District 18 final at 170, but Kelly fell to Holder in the semifinals by a decision.
Petite’s next journey is the upcoming NJSIAA Individual Championships at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The tournament will take place from March 5-7. The seeding will be done at the NJSIAA headquarters in Robbinsville on Tuesday.
But when he heads down south, he won’t be alone. Joining Petite in Atlantic City will be 113-pounder Desmond Pleasant and 182-pounder Nicholas Lodato. The two took third place at their respective weights. The top four placewinners at each weight at all eight Regions earn a spot in the state tournament.
The 11th-seeded Pleasant won by technical fall, 15-0, over sixth-seeded Robert Groogan of Delaware Valley in the first round. Pleasant, though, fell in the quarterfinals to third-seeded Justin Schifter, 5-2, but he bounced all the way back by winning all three of his wrestleback matches with a major decision and two decisions. He beat second-seeded David Rubin of Matawan in the third-place bout, 11-6.
Lodato, who was seeded third, had a bye in the opening round before he topped sixth-seeded Nick Jairdullo from South Brunswick, 7-6, in the quarterfinals. Lodato fell in the semifinals by way of a pin, but he pinned ninth-seeded Michael Ponenti of Rumson-Fair Haven in the wrestleback semifinals, also known as the “blood round”, in just 45 seconds. He then majored Hopewell Valley’s fourth-seeded Josh Beigman, 11-3, in the third-place match.
Last weekend at District 18, Lodato pinned Ponenti for gold and Pleasant finished in third.
“Lodato took third for the second year in a row at Regions,” Smith said. “Failing just short of making the final is tough, but he was able to keep his head in the right frame of mind to rebound and give himself another chance this year at placing down in A.C.
“Pleasant showed some amazing mental toughness in the 113 bracket. After a hard loss on Friday night, he was able to pick up three wins in a row with one being in overtime against the top seed to qualify him for the state tournament.”
Aside from the latter three grapplers, five other Chiefs locked horns in Somerset - 120-pounder Deon Pleasant, 126-pounder Kendall Jordan, 138-pounder Daniel Mikita, 220-pounder Eliezer Wolfskehl, and 285-pounder Abrahim Mohamed.
Deon Pleasant, Jordan, and Mohamed lost in the wrestleback semifinals. Mikita and Wolfskehl each lost in the first round on Wednesday
A week ago at Districts, Deon Pleasant, Jordan, and Mohamed all won championships, while Jordan, Mikita, and Wolfskehl each took third.
Action down in Atlantic City gets going on Thursday for the preliminary round at 12:00 p.m.
“The coaching staff is proud of the wrestling the boys did,” Smith said. “And we are eager to see them wrestle on the big stage this coming weekend.”
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.
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