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Wrestling: Thrilling wins by Oakcrest’s Kraus, EHT’s Valian highlight District 32 tournament

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By NICK KOSKO Staff Writer GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The end of a wrestling match can bring tremendous joy or complete heartbreak when it comes down to the wire. The District 32 wrestling finals tend to bring the most exciting action of a long tournament featuring upsets, dominant performances and last second victories.  Last-second victories stole the show and provided the most excitement to the crowd gathered at Absegami High School on Saturday evening. Callisto Kraus of Oakcrest was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler after winning his second straight district title in the closing seconds against previously undefeated Andrew Solomon of Cedar Creek in the 138-pound weight class, one of the most loaded at districts. Kraus pulled off some magic, scoring a late takedown to win 5-3. There was another thrilling match at the heavyweight division, as Egg Harbor Township’s Paul Valian upset top-seeded Ben Maggio of Absegami in overtime to win his first District 32 title. Kraus, who was seeded second, wrestled through a loaded weight class that featured another former champion, fourth-seeded Justin Bishop of Mainland Regional, who won his 100th bout at the beginning of the month. St. Augustine Prep dominated the team standings with 260 points, easily topping second-place Egg Harbor Township and third-place Mainland. Kraus and Solomon were tied going into the third period before Kraus earned a takedown, but he was then reversed a few seconds later. With fifteen seconds to go, a wild scramble ensued and Kraus was able to get back on top and hang on. “I just tried to stay perfect the whole time and keep wrestling my match,” Kraus said. “My second district title just feels so amazing, and I can’t wait to come back next year for a third. Obviously, before that, I have to get ready to wrestle next week (at regions).” Shortly after his win, Kraus was mobbed in the back gym by a sea of Oakcrest students, congratulating the junior. Mainland Regional's Kolin Roberts tries to stop a shot by EHT's Connor Agostino during the 195-pound final. Mainland Regional’s Kolin Roberts tries to stop a shot by EHT’s Connor Agostino during the 195-pound final. It was Agostino’s first District 32 title despite being the defending Region 8 champion. Roberts pinned Agostino in last season’s district semifinals before ultimately falling to the EHT captain in the Region 8 title bout. “It’s pretty great considering the past few years I haven’t been able to really finish off this tournament the way I wanted to,” Agostino said. “I can’t really relax now, since I’ve been at the top of regions before, so I have to go in and wrestle my match.” St. Augustine finished with eight champions, including George Coleman, Steven Schwab, Reid White, Dillon Taylor, Colin Donahue, Nick Clark, Jose Tabora and Brady. Egg Harbor Township sent a record seven wrestlers to the finals and ended the night with a record three champions. In addition to Agostino and Valian, Terrell Coleman avenged a loss to St. Augustine’s Connor Kraus at 133 pounds, winning 6-5. EHT’s other finalists featured Jerry Vo, Hunter Thomas, Hunter Coombs and Dietrich Trumbauer. James Giegold of Absegami edged out Thomas in the 120-pound final, 6-4, to extend Absegami’s streak of having at least one district champion to 31 years. Lower Cape May featured one champion, as Mike Yorio won at 170. Mainland’s Bishop earned another trip to regions as he finished third at 138. The District 32 Coach of the Year was awarded to Egg Harbor Township’s Mike Caiazza. The Region 8 tournament begins Wednesday at Egg Harbor Township, as wrestlers look to punch their tickets to Atlantic City and the state championships. [adsense]

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