sun state wrestling

Lacey's Lex Knapp (left) wrestles during a loss to Phillipsburg's Brandon Hull in the 220 lb. FINAL. Sunday March 4 2012 State Wrestling Championships, Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City. (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)

Ben Fogletto

Lacey Township High School senior Lex Knapp has committed to attend Rutgers University on a wrestling scholarship after finishing second in the state this year at 220 pounds.

The 18-year old set the school record for wins with 42, won his second District 24 title, and was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler on the way to his first Region 6 crown.

“Lex Knapp has been a staple in the Lacey wrestling program for the last four years,” Lions head coach Tom Pfister, 31, of Lavallette, said in a phone interview Tuesday. “He’s a leader by example and a very good role model for the guys by setting the example for how you go about doing things to be successful.”

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Knapp committed to Rutgers on Friday while visiting the school. He had also considered the University of Virginia and Rider University.

“I knew Rutgers was a place I wanted to go for a while and after the visit I knew it was the place for me,” Knapp said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I had been (to the campus) a few times for matches and camps, but that was my first official visit and meeting with academic people and it felt like the right place for me. It’s where I wanted to spend the next four of five years.”

Knapp, who finished this season with a 42-1 record, finished second in school history with 98 career wins. He said Rutgers plans to redshirt him for a year and move him up to heavyweight.

Knapp said one of the major draws for him was knowing what Rutgers coach Scott Goodale had accomplished during his four years with the school.

“He turned that program around,” Knapp said. “Now they’re wrestling top schedules against Oklahoma and Penn State and having guys go to the national tournament. That’s not something they had five or six years ago, now it seems like it’s an expected thing.”

Knapp’s only loss of the season was a 7-2 defeat against Phillipsburg’s Brandon Hull at the state individual tournament final in Atlantic City. If Knapp won, he would have been only the second wrestler from Lacey to win a state title.

“I’m still not satisfied with how it ended, but I’m just going to use it for motivation for college,” Knapp said. “I know coach Goodale knows how I feel. We talked about it and he said he had a similar situation in high school. He knows how hungry I am to get back after it.”

Goodale wrestled at Jackson Memorial and won 99 matches at Lock Haven University while making three trips to the NCAA championships. He also had a very successful tenure as Jackson Memorial’s wrestling coach before taking the Rutgers job.

Knapp joins Hammonton’s Phil Bakuckas as the second area wrestler to commit to Rutgers for 2012. Pfister said the Scarlet Knights can expect to get a complete athlete in Knapp.

“They’re getting an extremely tough competitor,” Pfister said. “Someone who’s willing to take all the sacrifices to achieve his goals, and somebody who’s going to put in the work to meet the rewards.”

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