Brian Broderick did the unusual and it paid dividends on Saturday.
After two successful seasons on The College of New Jersey wrestling team, the Southern Regional High School graduate simply took a season off last year.
“I told the coaches I would be back,” Broderick said. “They didn’t really believe me but I told them.
“I think it was one of the smartest decisions I ever made. It allowed me to check where I was at mentally and physically.”
Broderick’s return campaign saw him reach the NCAA Division III final at 184 pounds on Saturday at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The 22-year-old Manahawkin resident lost a 6-3 decision to Elmhurst College’s Josef Rau to finish second, earning All-American honors.
Broderick finished one win shy of becoming an All-American his sophomore season before stepping away.
“It was just a year to get my priorities straight,” Broderick said. “It helped me realize (wrestling) was something I missed and something I still wanted to pursue.”
Broderick is in his fourth year of college but has another year of wrestling eligibility should he choose to go for another shot at a national title.
“I was very, very impressed,” said second-year TCNJ coach Joe Galante, a 2002 Ocean City High School graduate. “His skills and abilities — he’s obviously one of the best in the country.
“He is surrounded with kids with good character and good attitude, which is what we build our program around.”
Broderick advanced to nationals by winning the 184-pound East Regional title March 2. He finished 28-3 (15-0 record in duals) this season and has a 90-14 career record.
Broderick was seeded second at 184 in the national tournament and won three matches before falling to Rau in the final.
Broderick was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes when he was 12 years old.
That didn’t stop him from winning 115 matches at Southern with four District 24 titles, one Region 6 title and a third-place finish at states his senior season. He was a first-team Press All-Star his senior season.
“It’s just something I have to accept, something I deal with every day.” Broderick said. “I really don’t let it get me down but it definitely plays a factor in what I can do on the mat.”
Diabetes makes the rigors of wrestling at a high level even more difficult.
“It is something that’s in his everyday life,” Galante said. “And he handles it beautifully. It’s a whole other mental stresser but he handles it well.”
Galante and Broderick also have been happy to represent the sport for wrestlers in the southern half of the state. Oakcrest graduate Antonio Mancella is a freshman 157-pounder for the Lions. Mancella went 14-14 this season with a team-high seven pins.
Southern Regional has an area-best seven wrestlers currently competing in college.
“I’m extremely proud to be from South Jersey and to represent the wrestling community,” Galante said.
The Lions had three All-Americans last weekend en route to a seventh-place finish in the team standings.
Moorestown grad John Darling finished second at 165 while Paramus’ Zach Zotollo took fourth at 174.
“It’s something special,” Broderick said of All-American status. “Coach told us that once you earn it, no one can take it away from you. I’ll have it the rest of my life and I’m proud of it.”
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