Being an undefeated wrestler doesn't guarantee anything when district tourneys start today of By JOHN O'KANE, Staff Writer
Kellen Whitney had his hand raised by the official after all 35 matches he wrestled this season.
The Hammonton High School 170-pound senior is well aware of his perfect 35-0 record.
He just doesn't care.
The march to states at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City begins today and Saturday with tournaments at 32 districts across the state.
Whitney is one of seven area wrestlers that will take unblemished records into districts.
But Whitney and company know that they won't be winning anything based on their records.
They'll have to do it on the mat.
"Nothing that has already happened matters now," Whitney said. "It's a totally different season now. Someone without a win can come up and beat someone without a loss. I think that's what makes it a great sport."
Vineland's Steven Bergamo (20-0 at 106 pounds), Pinelands Regional's Tom Poklikuha (28-0 at 138), St. Augustine Prep's Jack Clark (16-0 at 152), Millville's Ed Shockley (30-0 at 195), Lower Cape May Regional's Cory Damiana (31-0 at 195) and Barnegat's Greg Moran (28-0 at 195) are also unbeaten.
Whitney has been one of the most dominant wrestlers in the Cape-Atlantic League this season, earning bonus points in all but four of his 35 wins.
He is the top seed in District 30 at 170 pounds.
"It's like you are starting all over again," Whitney said. "All those wins don't matter now.
"You can't take anyone lightly because in a split second, you could be on your back and the season is over. Those wins don't mean anything if you don't win now."
Shockley is looking to defend his District 31 title and hopes for a return trip to Atlantic City for states.
"It's nice," Shockley said of his 30-0 record. "But you can lose any time you step out on the mat so I don't really think about it too much."
Shockley is among the area leaders with 15 pins and on a short list of wrestlers expected to compete for the 195-pound state title.
"You have to treat every match the same," Shockley said. "You can't take anyone lightly. The goal is to be unbeaten at the end of the year."
Moran is looking to become the second District 24 champ in Barnegat history and the first since Shane Herring in 2009.
"It doesn't matter," Moran said of his 28-0 record. "That's what is so great about this sport. Everyone has a fair chance and anyone can win."
Moran missed his junior season after breaking his fibula during a football practice and said he wasn't in wrestling shape until about two weeks ago.
"I'm just going to keep working hard," Moran said. "My goal is to go to Atlantic City and maybe become a district champ along the way.
"I don't know what's going to happen but I'm going to give it my all and hopefully I can cash-in in Atlantic City."
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