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Buena Regional’s Jake Maxwell turns tables on old nemesis in opening round of state championships

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher ATLANTIC CITY — A few years ago, Jake Maxwell had to watch as Brian Smolinsky won a state title. That was back when Maxwell was in seventh grade and the two were in the same weight class. They were in the same weight class again on Friday night at the NJSIAA state wrestling championships at Boardwalk Hall, this time Maxwell a sophomore at Buena Regional and Smolinsky a junior at North Hunterdon. Maxwell turned the tables on his old nemesis, building a 4-2 lead before taking Smolinsky down and pinning him late in the third period in the opening round of the state tournament. “At first I was a little nervous, but once I got a good warm-up in, just wrestling six hard minutes was the only thing I could do,” Maxwell said. “In seventh grade, at states, we were in the same weight class. I lost in the medal round and he actually won the whole tournament. It was pretty cool (winning tonight).” Buena Regional sophomore Jake Maxwell takes down North Hunterdon's Brian Smolinsky during the opening round of the state tournament on Friday at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Buena Regional sophomore Jake Maxwell takes down North Hunterdon’s Brian Smolinsky during the opening round of the state tournament on Friday at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) “I thought he did a good job and wrestled two smart matches where he stayed active and wrestled the whole six minutes. That’s what you have to do here,” said George Maxwell, Jake’s father, who also is Buena Regional’s head coach. “That intimidation factor, he had to get over that a little bit. I tried to tell him that he’s come a long way in the last few years.” Maxwell then beat Allentown’s Jordan Rugo 6-4 to earn a berth in the quarterfinals at 152 pounds. Maxwell (38-5), who finished second at the Region 8 tournament, will take on Woodbridge’s Bryan McLaughlin, second-place finisher from Region 5, on Saturday for a spot in the semis. Other Cape-Atlantic League wrestlers such as Pat D’Arcy of Holy Spirit (126) and C.J. LaFragola of St. Joseph (182), who only had to wrestle once on Friday night because they came in as region champions, advanced into the quarterfinal round. Mainland Regional junior 195-pounder Kolin Roberts began his postseason run as a No. 5 seed at the District 32 tournament and advanced all the way to the opening round of states, where he lost on Friday night. Mainland Regional junior 195-pounder Kolin Roberts began his postseason run as a No. 5 seed at the District 32 tournament and advanced all the way to the opening round of states, where he lost on Friday night. Maxwell’s Buena teammates Chaz Bramble (138) and Mason Brestle (145) both lost in the preliminary round, as did St. Augustine’s Tom Lynd  and Reid White, and Mainland Regional’s Kolin Roberts. Buena heavyweight Antonio Rodriguez lost 2-1 in an ultimate tie-breaker in the pre-quarterfinals, but he’ll have a chance to wrestle back on Saturday. The same holds true for St. Augustine’s Jarred Hodges (152), Nick Clark (170) and Jim Brady (220), and Egg Harbor Township’s Connor Agostino (195). Jake Maxwell said he has been coming to the state championships for a long time as a spectator, but Friday night had a different feel for him as he was wearing his school’s singlet. “I’ve been coming here since I was probably about 8 years old, always watching from the top. It was good to be on the mat for once,” Jake said. “It feels amazing. Getting a pin at states, that’s definitely an accomplishment.” “I’ve been bringing Jake here since he was in fourth grade. I wanted him to get used to this arena and watch a lot of wrestling here. You can only hope it’s something he becomes accustomed to and feels like he belongs,” George Maxwell said. “I thought him coming here motivated him as a mini-wrestler. He wasn’t very good for the first four or five years that he wrestled, but then kind of a light went on in sixth through eighth grade.” George said that once it was time to get on the mat, he quickly flipped the switch from dad to coach. “We’ve been doing it a long time. Me and him walking into this arena every year together, it’s always special,” George said. “I was looking forward to today when he had a competitor’s badge on him. Once you start warming up, it’s all wrestling.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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