ROXBURY, NJ - Eighth-seeded Roxbury High School wrestler Luke Stanich, a freshman, made it to the podium at the NJSIAA state wrestling championships on Friday, the first Roxbury wrestler to get that far since 2014.
Stanich defeated Nico Calello of Watchung Hills - the top-seeded wrestler in the 106-pound weight class - in the quarterfinal competition. The win set up Stanich for a semi-finals battle.
Stanich subsequently was beaten there by fourth-seeded, and undefeated, Kinnelon wrestler Evan Mougalian. The loss dashed Stanich’s shot at becoming Roxbury’s first state champion since 2014.
Nevertheless, his performance made Stanich the first Roxbury wrestler to reach the podium at the tournament since his brother Troy did so four years ago. It drew praise from Roxbury wrestling fans including Kristen Jarosz.
“Heart-pounding knees-knocking, one hell of a match by Luke with his first win today in the quarters,” wrote Jarosz on Facebook after Stanich defeated Calello.
Stanich’s subsequent 3-1 loss in wrestle-back competition - to Delbarton’s Tyler Vazquez, of Landing - was a battle between two Roxbury youths and one that could have ended either way, she said.
“Anyone in that arena at the time of the match knows it could have gone to either of them,” wrote Jarosz. “But here’s what they don’t know: Did he show style and grace on the floor? Absolutely. Off the floor, even more so.”
She said Stanich, who finished the tournament Saturday in sixth place, is a classy athlete, following in the footsteps of his brother and former Roxbury wrestling star Dillon Artigliere, who is assisting with Gaels coaching.
“As a freshman, to have that same composure was an awesome thing to witness,” she wrote. “There is no doubt he belongs on the podium. Maybe the numbers don’t reflect where he should be, but one thing is clear: He will be back. He has a lot to teach the room of Roxbury wrestlers both the ones there now and our next generations coming in while he is there.”
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