CEDAR GROVE, NJ – Anthony Clarizio won the championship title in the 120-pound weight class in the Essex County Tournament last week.  On his way to the finals, he wrestled less than four minutes total for the entire tournament and pinned every wrestler he faced.  Based on this performance, Clarizio has been nominated and named TAP into Verona/Cedar Grove’s Panther Athlete of the Week.

“It’s a big honor to be recognized and I really wasn’t expecting it so it’s a nice surprise,” Clarizio said on being nominated.

Friday’s championship win was Clarizio’s second straight Essex County title, having won in the 113-pound weight class last year.  Clarizio noted that the county tournament is always tough and brings out high-caliber competitors.  His strategy to success is to take one match at a time.

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“This tournament was definitely a tough one with so many good wrestlers competing.  I just try to take it one match at a time,” he said.  “Every match is basically its own challenge.  You just want to control your emotions and get on the mat and succeed.”

Along with his own success, Clarizio was proud of his team’s performance at the tournament with a fourth-place overall finish, however he feels the team hasn’t lived up to its full potential yet.

“Our team definitely showed some people that we can wrestle with anyone, but we can still improve,” he explained.  “I think if we had wrested to our full potential last week we may have won the whole thing.  Still I think we wrestled pretty well overall.”

Looking ahead, Clarizio is focused on earning a state sectional title with his team and earning a repeat trip to the NJSIAA State Wrestling Tournament in Atlantic City for himself to compete in the state championships.  Clarizio earned a spot last year as a freshman.  While he didn’t advance beyond the preliminary round, he gained experience to bring along with him this year.

“The Essex County Tournament was definitely a highlight of the season so far, but going forward our goal as a team is to win the state sectional title.  That has always been the goal from the start of the season,” he added.  “Personally I’m hoping to get to Atlantic City again and then see what I can do when I get there.”

Cedar Grove’s road to a state title continues on Wednesday when they take on Nutley at Nutley High School at 7:30 p.m. and then they are slated to battle Seton Hall at home on Friday at 7 p.m. 

Editor's Note: The "Athlete of the Week" is a weekly reoccurring feature story that highlights an individual student-athlete's success. The Cedar Grove High School Athlete of the Week is selected with the assistance of the school's athletic director and coaching staff.