SOUTH PLAINFIELD- Everything the South Plainfield High School wrestling team has worked for this entire season will come down to just one match tomorrow.
The #3 Tigers (27-1) will be heading down to the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River Sunday morning to fight for the Group 3 state championship.
Regardless of how the two early semi-finals matches go, the Tigers will likely be in for some stiff competition during their road to compete for their 10th state title. That being said, if the semi-finals end up going chalk, the Tigers will take part in a final that will not only prove who the top public school in the state is, but will also likely be the most competitive and compelling match of their season, and possibly even the entire state season.
South Plainfield will start off their day tomorrow with a 9 a.m. semi-final tilt against 15-8 Sparta. If the Tigers get past the Spartans, they’ll have a 2 p.m. finals matchup between either #15 Delsea (22-4), or #4 Cranford (21-0.)
If Delsea pulls off the upset, this year’s final will likely be a rematch of 2016’s championship match, where a match-clinching pin from current senior captain Kyle Bythell gave the Tigers the title and ended Delsea’s perfect season.
Delsea’s lineup tomorrow will include senior 195/220-pounder and last year’s Region 2 runner-up Brad Dobzanski, #2 ranked 170-pounder and last year’s third place finisher in the state tournament Billy Janzer, Jr., and last year’s Region 2 champion at 120 pounds Edison Echevarria, Jr.
If the semi-finals play out according to the rankings, the final will be between the two highest ranked public school teams in the state. A South Plainfield-Cranford final is a match that wrestling fans across the state have been hoping for all season, and it could also be the start of a rivalry that could play out in the rest of this post-season. The realignments made to regions and districts in the preseason have placed South Plainfield and Cranford both in Region 4 District 14, so the Tigers and Bears will be battling each other in the individual tournaments that start next week.
Cranford’s lineup will consist of 20-1 senior 138-pounder Tom DiGiovanni, #3 ranked 132-pounder Chris Scorese, #8 ranked 170-pounder Vince Concina, and 16-1 former state qualifier 113-pounder Anthony Capece.
No matter who the Tigers match up with in the finals, getting championship hardware home will be the only thing on all of their starters’ minds. The coach of South Plainfield, Bill Pavlak, told TapInto earlier this week that every one of his wrestlers has been obsessed with repeating as Group champions since the beginning of the season.
“Every kids knows their job, whether it’s staying off your back and giving up minimal points, or if they need to pin the guy and win the match,” Pavlak said after his team defeated Wall in the sectional semi-finals on Wednesday. “It would take a really dominant performance from another team to beat us. I’m feeling good right now.”