FLEMINGTON – Logan Waller was on the verge of having his dreams of winning a regional title shattered by injury lack. But as he lay on the mat trying to recover, he thought of a quote Colts Neck head coach Brett Jankos often says.
“Coach Jankos always says, ‘You don’t go this far to get this far,” said Waller. “At that point, I said screw this, I’m not losing here. I had no doubt I was going to continue. Right now it’s the biggest tournament of my life and there’s no way I’m leaving here.
After landing on his head on a comeback in the third period, Waller was able to regroup and continue the fight. Tied 3-3 after the restart, Waller escaped and then scored a takedown on his way to defeat Matawan’s Kamrin O’Neill, 6-4, to win the 145-pound NJSIAA Central Super Region title on Saturday at Hunterdon Central Regional High School.
After a scoreless first period, Waller escaped to take a 1-0 lead, then took O’Neill with 13 seconds left in the second period to bring a 3-0 advantage in the third period. O’Neill escaped to make it 3-1, then found himself on Waller. It was then that the injury occurred that nearly ended Waller’s title hopes.
“I went to get a Granby Roll as it returned the mat to me and it just put me on the top of my head,” Waller said.
A head and neck injury gives a wrestler five minutes of time to recover instead of the usual two, and Waller has used up most of it. But once he managed to shake off the mess and get back on the mat, he didn’t seem restrained.
“I just put my head down, both literally and metaphorically,” Waller said. “My parents have been saying it all week; today is your day, make a statement.
The regional title is the first for Waller, who was a region 6 finalist at 138 pounds last season. It gives the Colts Neck a regional champion for the third consecutive year for the first time in the history of the program. He denied O’Neill the title, which would have been Matawan’s first since 2010.
“Kamrin, I have nothing but respect for him,” Waller said. “He’s one of my club partners at Elite and it’s very difficult because we know each other, but you don’t have friends when you step on the mat.”
Two fights earlier, Julian George of Christian Brothers Academy won the 132-pound title with an impressive 4-2 victory over Shore Regional senior Jack Maida. George fell behind early when Maida scored the opening takedown, but the ABC sophomore was in control from that point on. He escaped to reduce the lead to 2-1 and did so again at the start of the second. He called with one out to move forward, 4-2, then outstretched Maida for the remainder of the period, then for the entirety of the third period.
“He’s really strong and a really talented, aggressive wrestler and I knew it was going to be an aerial fight until the end,” said George. “He shot me first but that’s where I live, the comeback situations. I’ve done this so many times in my career that I knew there was no reason I couldn’t come back from a 2-0 deficit and win the game.
George’s driving ability was the difference. He wrapped up four-time state qualifier Maida who was recruited as a wrestler at the American University from the top position.
“I always try to turn kids, but against a good kid like Maida you know it’s going to be tough, and in that situation I knew I had to ride it for two minutes,” George said. “I work on it at every training session, during the best matches and the scrambles. Those are my two main goals and it got me this game.
Last season, as a rookie, George was a District finalist and third in Region 6 before qualifying for the fourth round of wrestlers at the NJSIAA Championships. It has been a successful freshman season for sure, but those tight appeals, including the end of a win before a state medal, have stoked the fire for this season.
“Third in the stung areas, honestly,” said George. “I was hoping to win this and then go blood around the States… man, this might be the hardest loss of my career.” Coming into this season, I was very hungry, I knew I had to change some things and I was ready.
This is not the end. The Super Region champion was obviously a goal, but the ultimate goal is a state title.
Hit their tickets
Freehold Township rookie Giovanni Scafidi was second at 138 pounds, falling by a 6-5 decision to Old Bridge’s Tyler Sagi. Scafidi was in the running to become the Patriots’ first regional champion since Rob Morello in 2001 … David Hussey of Middletown South came from the No.6 seed to take third place at 138 pounds, beating the seed, Nick Canonica of Hunterdon Central, 5-1, in the fight for third place… Point Beach senior Riley Simon placed third at 145 pounds to double state qualifier… Brick Memorial senior , Nick Torre, locked his first trip to the state tournament by placing fourth at 132 pounds. , the No. 4 seed, placed fourth at 145 pounds.
132: 2-Julian George (CBA) d. 1-Jack Maida (shore), 4-2
138: 2-Tyler Sagi (Old Bridge) d. 4-Giovanni Scafidi (Township of Freehold), 6-5
145: 2-Logan Waller (Colts Neck) d. 1-Kamrin O’Neill (Matawan), 6-4
132: 3-Drake Torrington (Robbinsville) d. 5-Nick Torre (Brick Memorial), 8-3
138: 6-David Hussey (Middletown South) d. 1-Nick Canonica (Hunterdon Central), 5-1
145: 3-Riley Simon (Point Beach) p. 6-Donovan DiStefano (Wall), 5:45
132: 10-Robert Generelli (Middletown South) md. 4-Mike Bruno (wall), 15-7
138: 2-Zach Weiner (Spotswood) d. 8-Braden Scot (Brick Memorial), 4-2
145: 9-Alex Quintano (Middletown South) d. 13-Nick Benner (ocean), 9-5
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