Sports

Campagna wins N.J. Youth Wrestling State Championship, Niemeyer and Padovano Place 2nd

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State champ Nicholas Campagna proudly holds his wrestling division bracket after a stunning victory. Campagna was unscored upon in the NJ State Youth Wrestling Tournament. He plans to compete nationally in April. Credits: Courtesy of Campagna Family
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TRENTON, NJ - The New Jersey Youth Wrestling State Championship Tournament was held on the weekend of March 14th-15th at Sun National Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ.  The tournament is considered the pinnacle of NJ Youth wrestling where qualifying is an achievement onto itself.  Divisions are categorized by age and weight.  The brackets can include up to 24 wrestlers all trying to find a spot on the podium for 1st -8th place.  The tournament pits NJ’s best youth wrestles against one another.  The venue is similar to the NJ High School State Tournament with 12 mats of simultaneous wrestling surrounded by a huge crowd.

This year South Plainfield was well represented by State Champion Nicholas Campagna in the 75lb Bantam Division.  Campagna defeated Alessio Perentin of Clark in the finals. Both young athletes are accomplished wrestlers.  They competed in the Bantam Division in 2014 where they both placed 7th in their respective weight classes.  Campagna placed 8th in the State in 2013 as a second year   wrestler. Campagna   was well supported by his South Plainfield wrestling family when he stunned the crowd with a first period pin.  He was congratulated by fans from both sides including Perentin and his Coach.  This display of sportsmanship and camaraderie by the wrestling community is also one of the corner stones of South Plainfield Wrestling.  Campagna, a third grader, was very gracious in his victory.  This characteristic is instilled in all young SP wrestlers by their coaches.  It seems to come natural to the young Compagna.  The excitement shown by his teammates, coaches, family and fans seemed to overwhelm him with happiness.  He and other SP wrestlers plan to compete in the National War at the Shore Tournament in April.

Eighth grader Luke Niemeyer battled his way into the finals in the 160 Lb Intermediate Divisions.  Niemeyer took second place to longtime opponent Stillwater – Fredon’s Zachery Mafaro.  Niemeyer pinned his first two opponents and earned a spot in the finals by winning 8-0 in his third match. Luke also placed 2nd in the NJ Middle School Tournament this year. 

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Sixth grader Johnny Padovano battled tough competition and huge time gaps between matches on Saturday.  Johnny secured a spot in the Junior Division Finals with a pin.  There he met familiar opponent Anthony Vaccarella of Ridgewood.  The match went into overtime with a score of 2-2 but neither wrestler could capitalize.  The bout progressed into an incredible triple overtime when his opponent escaped with just 5 seconds left.  The final score was score 3-2.  Johnny was a NJ State Champion in 2014.  He placed 4th in NJ in 2013 and 2nd in the state in 2012.  He is #1 in his CJYW League Division.

Alex “Mouch”  Pigna, a second grader and second year wrestler claimed the 3rd Place spot on the podium in the 40lb Bantam Division.  Pigna is a League Champ for the South Plainfield Rec team and took 1st place in the SP Tournament.  He placed 6th last year and is a heavy favorite in 2016 when he returns as a Bantam.  He plans on competing nationally in April.

South Plainfield’s Joseph Sacco an extremely accomplished wrestler locked up 4th Place in the 128lb Intermediate Division.   Sacco made it to the semi-final round of the contest where he fell short to East Hanover’s Nicholas Raimo who went on to win the championship.  Joseph wrestled back and secured the #4 ranking in the state. He fought it out in in a total of five matches in the tournament.  The 8th grade Sacco also earned The NJ Middle School League Championship for the third consecutive year in his weight class.

Brenden Hedden locked up the 5th place spot in Trenton to complete an outstanding youth wrestling career.  The 8th grade Hedden wrestled six matches to secure his place on the podium.   He never gave up and competed intensely  to make his mark.   Hedden was a League Champion in NJ Middle School Tournament this year.

Tommy Fierro took 5th Place this year in the State Tournament.  Fierro dropped his first match 3-2 but was determined to make his mark in the wrestle backs.  The tough grappler wrestled in a total of six matches on the day to cap off his 8th grade year.  Fierro is a NJ Middle School League Champion.

Fifth grader Derek Glen wrestled 6 matches to earn the 5th place spot on the podium in Trenton.  Glen, who is known for his quickness and agility on his feet fought his way through the 60 lb Novice Division.  Derek’s Uncle Kenneth flew in from Colorado to cheer the young Tiger and his teammates on.  He showed himself to be a tremendous athlete and a force to be reckoned with.

Jeffrey Jacome, clawed his way through the 55lb Novice Division to capture 7th Place in the State.  The wirey grappler refused to yield after dropping his second match. His bracket was stacked with numerous State Champions so the competition was fierce.  Jacome wrestled a total of seven matches on the day to take 7th.  This comes as no surprise to his coaches, family and teammates who know Jeffrey refuses to give up when faced with adversity.

Alex Amato dropped an extremely close first match 1-0 in the 98lb Intermediate Division.  The 8th Grade Amato dug deep and wrestled back hard as he defeated one of his opponents in an exciting overtime match. He captured the 7th Place spot in his 7th match of the day. He soundly defeated his opponent from Long Branch 7-0. His youth wrestling career was very accomplished including winning the 2015 NJ Middle School League Championship.

David Loniewski capped off his 8th Grade season by  taking 7th Place in the State.   Loniewski  fell short in his first contest 3-2.  This seemed to light a fire in him and he was soon on the offensive. David was determined to carve out his place among the best of the best in NJ and he did. He pushed himself to the max, slugging it out in 7 bouts on the day.

The following wrestlers (Sebastian Santos, Anthony White, Jacob DelVecchio, Tyler Balent, Andrew Loniewski, Justus Niemeyer and JJ Giordano) placed 1st-3rd at qualifiers which enabled them to compete in the State Tournament.  They are all very accomplished wrestlers in their own right (including former State Place winners 1-8). They also had the motivation and courage to compete in the largest youth wrestling event in the State of NJ.  Congratulations to all of the South Plainfield Wrestlers!

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