By NICK KOSKO
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Do you remember the last time you were sick?
Now, imagine having a virus in your throat that forced you to miss school for a few days and then have to wrestle in the Region 8 quarterfinals.
That is exactly what Egg Harbor Township senior Terrell Coleman did, and not only did he win his match against St. Augustine Prep’s George Coleman, EHT’s Coleman earned his 100th career victory in front of a packed house inside Egg Harbor Township High School.
Coleman, who earned an 8-5 victory, had the look of someone who nearly passed out on the wrestling mat due to the sickness. With only a slim lead, Coleman started the third period in the bottom position and could not seem to get out until he hit a reversal to take the lead for good.
“I had to go out there and do what I had to do in order to get the ‘W,’” Coleman said. “It feels pretty good.”
Head coach Mike Caiazza even embraced the conservative role for Coleman as they look ahead toward Saturday morning’s semifinals.
“We told him to do just enough to get through the match,” Caiazza said. “We told him to just be smart and don’t force anything.”
Although there is more to go, Coleman’s victory was celebrated by family and friends, who even produced a colorful banner with a giant 100 on it as well as a few pictures of Coleman wrestling throughout the years.
Coleman is the latest EHT senior to achieve 100 victories this season, following teammate Connor Agostino, a 195-pounder.
“He deserves this accomplishment, he really does,” Caiazza said. “It’s a tribute to his work ethic. He is one of the hardest working kids we have. Those 100 wins come right from the amount of time he dedicated to wrestling.”
Egg Harbor Township heavyweight Paul Valian also needed to grind out a close win. The No. 1 seed was able to defeat Holy Spirit’s Reggie Jean-Charles.
Despite Valian’s top seed, many saw this match as one that Jean-Charles — a star running back in football who wrestles at heavyweight despite being just 215 pounds — would be able to steal and keep his own Region 8 title hopes alive. Valian refused to allow it.
In a tightly contested bout, Valian was able to wear down the smaller Jean-Charles and get a late takedown via a throw to earn a 4-2 decision.
“I’ve never wrestled him before, but I knew I could get this win,” Valian said. “I studied his matches throughout the week and I knew what I had to do to wear him down. He’s really strong, so I had to get past that. I was able to get that late takedown to seal it.”
Valian, who appeared in the semifinals last season, missed out on a chance to get to the state tournament. He vows to change that on Saturday.
“I plan on winning it this year,” Valian said. “I thought last year it was given to me, so this time I have to keep pushing and keep doing my own thing.”
Considering he had to wait until the end of the night to finally wrestle, Valian got to see teammate Coleman get his milestone victory.
“I’m really jealous,” Valian said with a laugh. “He definitely earned that one and I only wish I was close, too, but I’m glad he was able to get it done.”
EHT will feature four seniors in the semis, which include Coleman (120), Hunter Thomas (126), Agostino (195) and Valian (285).
Holy Spirit got two winners on Friday night as Tim Fitzpatrick earned a berth in the 160-pound semis with a 10-3 win over Middle Township’s Gary Nagle, the District 29 champion. Mike Waszen also rolled to a 10-2 decision over St. Augustine Prep’s Connor Murray at 160.
St. Augustine Prep did have a handful of winners, however, as theHermits will be sending six wrestlers to the semifinals. Connor Kraus (126), Steven Schwab (132), Brett Bodnar (138), Dillon Taylor (152), Sean Lenzsch (195), and Ryan Lynd (220) will have a chance to clinch a spot in the state tournament with victories on Saturday morning.
Absegami’s James Giegold took down Timber Creek’s Christian Bobe, 11-5, to make a return to the Region semifinals at 132 pounds.
Even with losses tonight, wrestlers will have a chance to go through the wrestleback rounds to finish in the top four in their weight classes to and advance to the state tournament. This year, the top four in each weight class advance, where as in previous years it was only the top three.
EHT’s Christian Smith (113), Mark Woods (152), and Matt Moreno (170) will have to win two matches in a row in order earn a spot on the podium.
Other wrestlers who are in a win-or-go-home situation are Absegami’s Felix Torres (106) and Andrew Marcucci (170), Holy Spirit’s Alec Harper (138) and Jean-Charles (285), and Cedar Creek’s Jahleel Williams (120).
The semifinals will kick off a long Saturday for Region 8, as the locals look to stay alive and punch their tickets to Atlantic City.
Follow Nick Kosko on Twitter @nickkosko59
By NICK KOSKO