By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Jason Kaenzig, a 152-pound senior at Egg Harbor Township, figured he had a shot at winning the Arthur O. Marinelli Tournament after finishing third for two straight years. He din’t think he’d be walking away with the biggest individual honor and a heavy trophy, though. He also helped Egg Harbor Township, the host team, win its own tournament for the second time in the 33-year history of the event. Not a bad way to spend the holiday break.
Winning the title was anything but easy, however, as Kaenzig had his hands full with Burlington Township freshman Mike Limone. The two were tied up, 5-5, midway through the third period before Kaenzig spun a reversal and got two back points, completing a four-point move that gave him a 9-5 lead. He hung on in the final 30 seconds to win, 9-7. After a first-round bye and a 9-3 win in the second round, Kaenzig needed overtime to beat Clearview’s David McCullough, 6-4, in the semis.
“This is my first time winning it. My freshman year, I got knocked out in the first round, and sophomore year I placed third. Last year, I placed third, so it just feels great to get this win at home. This is the first time we’ve won it as a team, too, since I’ve been in high school, so it feels great. Especially losing about 10 seniors from our varsity lineup. It’s great to win this. I knew this was one of the toughest tournaments in South Jersey, and I was ready for any and all competition,” said Kaenzig, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. “I was expecting to be in the finals, but I wasn’t expecting to wrestle a low-seeded freshman. But he’s competitive, man. He came here to win this whole tournament, but I was ready for it. It was one heck of a match, one heck of a final.”
Kaenzig said he actually didn’t mind wrestling a relative unknown because it didn’t give him a chance to get inside his own head.
“I like it a little bit better when I don’t know a guy because then I just wrestle my match. When I know inside information, I tend to wrestle their match,” he said. “(Limone) was heavy on the tie, real defensive on his feet. He’s a great wrestler, has a great stance and stayed in it the whole time. He was stingy with his points. The reversal to the two back points was the game changer. He hasn’t had as much experience as me, obviously, because I’m a senior, but I have a feeling I’ll see him again.”
The Eagles also got a big win from junior Andrew Ngo, who was a junior varsity wrestler a year ago. He worked his way through the 120-pound bracket, scoring a first-period pin in the semifinals before outlasting Cinnaminson’s Jack Florkowski, 3-0, in the championship bout.
“I didn’t really focus on the brackets because I didn’t want to over-think it. The third period, I was winning 1-0. I was trying to be defensive, but I heard a stall warning, so I had the opportunity to throw him, and I did,” said Ngo, who used a hip toss to get a late takedown to add to his 1-0 lead. “I was trying to wrestled my best. I was hoping to get into the finals, but I thought at best I could get third place. Last year, I took first in JV, and I took second in JV as a freshman. It’s a thrill. Varsity is harder than JV, but I’m getting more experience. I wrestled all summer at Orchard South, and we’ve been doing a lot more since I started with them.”
EHT also got titles from Cody Dix at 145 pounds and Jefferson DeJean at heavyweight. Dix was able to hold off Khalid Zeidieh of Cinnaminson, 3-2, while DeJean scored a 12-2 major decision over Lower Cape May’s Joshua Antorino.
Oakcrest had a great showing as well, putting five wrestlers into the finals to finish fourth in the team standings behind EHT, Haddonfield and Clearview. Hayden Horsey (106) and Reec Kreischer (132) both suffered tough two-point losses in their respective weight classes, and Frank Gabriel (113) and Keevon Berry (195) also finished in second place. The Falcons’ lone champion was senior Cameron Garcia, who gutted out a 3-1 win over EHT’s Nick Leone at 182 pounds.
“It was a tough match. I wrestled him last year and they were both tough matches, one in the regular season and one at regions. I won by decision both times, but it was a lot closer in regions,” Garcia said. “I’m feeling pretty good this winter. I expected to come out and do just what I did here today. I had a tough loss in the finals of the Nottingham tournament, and I was hoping to bounce back. I really just tried to stay with the way I wrestle, just stay with my attack and keep attacking, no matter what, to get my points.”
Solid finishes give both Oakcrest and EHT some confidence heading into the dual meet season, which begins next week.
“We definitely feel like this is our year” Garcia said of the Falcons. “We feel like we can be really strong in a couple of places, and come playoffs, I’m really hoping we can make it to the sectional title match.”
“We’re working hard,” Kaenzig added. “We still have a lot of work to do, but we’ve been busting our butts in the weight room, the wrestling room, on the road — we’re doing everything, as much as we can to win.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays