EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — The preliminary round of the regional wrestling tournament is always one of the most exciting of the high school season.
Anyone who wins in the prelims Thursday at Egg Harbor Township High School is guaranteed at least two more matches and can still advance to states at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall with a top-four finish in their respective weight class.
Lose, and the season is now over.
A talented group of freshmen highlighted an otherwise tough day for area wrestlers on opening night of the Region 8 tournament. Area wrestlers went a combined 23-31 on Thursday, but local freshman accounted for six of the 23 wins.
“I thrive off of that pressure,” Ocean City freshman Charley Cossaboone said. “It makes me want to wrestle harder, so I can keep going.”
Absegami’s Tyler Foulke (106 pounds), St. Augustine Prep’s D’Amani Almodovar (113) and Trey McLeer (120), Cossaboone (120), Holy Spirit’s K.J. Sherman (138) and Middle Township’s Marcus Hebron (195) won in their first trip to regions.
The top four wrestlers in each of the 14 weight class advance to the state individual wrestling championships next week at Boardwalk Hall.
Cossaboone was impressive in a 13-2 major decision against Lower Cape May’s Wesley Tosto.
“It feels awesome as a freshman getting here,” Cossaboone said. “Everyone helping me, working me hard — it just feels great to be out here representing Ocean City as a freshman in regions.”
Cossaboone improved to 28-3 this season and will face second-seeded Taylor Robinson of Williamstown in the quarterfinals.
“I’m trying to get top-four, obviously,” Cossaboone said. “I have to beat a good kid next match, and then from there on I’m going to have to wrestle way harder because I’m going to be getting tougher kids as I go on in the tournament.”
The local freshmen may be young but they don’t lack experience. Most have been wrestling for years and have competed around the country in tournaments.
Mcleer pinned Buena Regional’s Andrew Johnson in the prelims Thursday.
“I’ve been to a lot of big tournaments,” Mcleer said. “My whole youth career I’ve been preparing for this moment so I’m pretty confident going in.”
Mcleer said he doesn’t mind the pressure of the win-or-go-home style of the prelims.
“You can’t think you’re going to lose,” he said.
“You always have to think you’re going to win, and you have to trust your ability.”
Mcleer will face fourth-seeded Jaden Hinton of Clayton/Glassboro in today’s quarterfinals.
“I just want to try and win as many matches as possible,” Mcleer said. “If I lose I’ll just keep on going.”
“My overall goal was to get to states and see what I can do there, but first I have to do what I have to do here to place top four.”
Absegami’s Tyler Foulke has been wrestling for 12 years.
The experience showed Thursday in a 5-0 decision against Vineland’s Gabe Baldosaro at 113 pounds.
“It feels great,” Foulke said. “I’m just a freshman, but this experience is going to help me a lot going into the future.”
Foulke has wrestled in big matches growing up and was able to quickly adjust to the pressure of the prelims.
“There is a little bit of pressure, but I got used to it,” he said. “This is a really good feeling. I just hope that I can make it as far as I can go.”
Foulke improved to 25-9 this season and will face top-seeded Ty Whalen of Clearview Regional in the quarterfinals.
Foulke’s plan for Friday and Saturday is simple.
“I’m just trying to get more wins,” he said.
Region 8 tournament
at Egg Harbor Twp.
106— Tyler Foulke ABS d. Gabe Baldosaro VIN 5-0; Cameron Morgan WOOD d. Hunter Horsey OAK 4-3; Josh Palmucci KING tf. Nate Johnson BUE 15-0 (3:58); 113— Jayson Scerbo SR p. Dasyn Weber PENN 5:47; D'Amani Almodovar AUG md. Angel Keifner PIT 10-2; 120— Matt Brielmeier SR p. Steven Ciccarelli CLE 3:54; Trey McLeer AUG p. Andrew Johnson BUE 3:11; Jaden Hinton CLA p. David Flippen OAK 1:31; Charley Cossaboone OC md. Wesley Tosto LCM 13-2; 126— Frank Gabriel OAK d. Nick Flamma WAS 8-1; Gianni Danze AUG p. Matt Hoelke HIGH 5:44; Justin Jaeger PENN p. Corbin Saul ABS 5:22; 132— Michael Smith PENN d. Nik Lawson SR 9-3; Lucas Prendergrast WOOD d. Travis Brown PINE 13-8; 138— Ken Sherman HOLY md. Doyne Friebel PENN 14-3; Adam Aquilino HIGH d. Jack Schiavo EHT 4-3; 145— Chad Tracy WILL p. Carson Haas MID 3:49; Wayne Scott PGRO d. Braydon Castillo LCM 5-2; Alex Giordano SJO d. Andrew Mays HAMM 5-3 (SV-1); 152— Ryan Crane KING p. Albert Long OAK 4:27; Brendon Lea BUE md. Nic Carrero ABS 10-1; Brett Buckingham HIGH p. Brione Preston EHT 3:37; 160— Kevin Pandorf KING d. Jani Kolefski EHT 5-1; Jon Stokes DEL p. David Giulian MID 5:54; Chris Doughty BUE p. Dylan Cydis CLE 6-2; Jacob Rodriguez CLA p. Gavin Stewart PINE 3:22; 170— Jesse Bishop MAIN p. Quinn McLaughlin ABS 5:09; Jaden Roberts BUE d. Sean Falcone HAMM 12-5; Conner Boal HOLY p. Elijah Gonzalez OAK 1:36; Mike LaRosa WAS p. Karl Giulian MID 4:57; 182— Tommy Watson CLA d. Sammy Drogo 3-0; Nicholas Leone EHT d. Thomas Love CLE 6-3; Curtis Thomas DEL tf. Kyle Matthews MID 19-3 (5:52); 195— Charles Cotton BARN p. Louis Condo HAMM 1:06; Ben LoParo SR d. Warren Hood ABS 3-1; Nick Marshall AUG d. Emeril Mitchell WINS 8-2; Marcus Hebron MID p. Austin Burritt WOOD 3:44; 220— Kurt Driscoll HOLY p. Dawson Tallant MID 2:27; Sean Horner KING p. RJ Rodriquez ABS 1:49; 285— Elijah Wilson HIGH d. Amir Walker BUE 7-4; David Raine PENN d. Hector Gurerro MAIN 5-2.
Region 7 tournament
Toms River North
106— Brady Carter LACE md. Jackson Sichelstiel 10-0; 126— Colin Rolak LACE d. Jesse Keesal CHE 8-1; 132— Hunter Gutierrez LACE p. Kyle Edwards CHE 1:43; 170— Claudy Vazquez PENN d. Jackson Brandt LACE 10-8; 182— Quint Kearns LACE d. John Dalmass MOOR 3-2; 220— Vincent Ceglie LACE p. Kyle Chandler HOCR 3:27.