The 2021 New Jersey Senior Showcase

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If this were any other season, the Group State Championship teams would have just been crowned in Toms River and we’d all be looking ahead towards districts and the rest of the individual postseason culminating with states at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. But, of course, this isn’t like any other season.

Instead, it’s been a lot of waiting and what-ifs. It’s hard not to sympathize with the thousands of high schoolers across the state and country who have spent the majority of their senior year in quarantine.

Despite growing up in a world that feels almost exclusively online already, nothing could have prepared these kids for a senior year spent taking Phys Ed or AP Chem via Zoom instead of in a classroom alongside their friends and classmates. Prom, Homecoming and Senior Trip all look different this year – if they’re even happening at all. There are no pep rallies or rivalry matchups in gyms packed full of rowdy fans. For wrestlers, there’s Group Championships. No Boardwalk Hall.

For some of the seniors, this wrestling season is supposed to be a coronation and an opportunity to stamp their names into the New Jersey wrestling history books. Others have hopes of climbing that state podium for the first time.

The NJSIAA State Tournament, one of the Garden State’s most lauded high school athletics events, is in jeopardy after running uninterrupted since 1934.

Despite originally announcing a cancellation of this year’s tournament the NJSIAA has more recently walked it a few steps back by making it clear it will attempt to hold a tournament, even if it’s slightly modified to meet all of the required Covid-19 protocols released by the state.

Nobody asked me, but if the season begins in the spring why not hold the state championships in true high school glory days fashion - outside on the 50-yard line of a football field?

Either way, if the NJSIAA can’t pull off a safe tournament, USA Wrestling has vowed to step in and hold an event of its own to crown champions of the state.

Through it all, this year’s seniors have handled the countless delays and disruptions with a commendable level of grace and maturity. They’ve stayed ready and remain prepared to do whatever is asked of them as long as it means a chance to compete.

We all recognize the season will be short and it will certainly look different. Champions may not be crowned beneath the bright lights of Atlantic City but these young wrestlers deserve an opportunity to compete for a championship in some capacity in their final year of high school.

Get ready Jersey fans - the modified season kicks off in less than a week! In the meantime, allow me to introduce you to some of the standouts in New Jersey’s Senior Class of 2021.

“These are memories frozen in time, people!” - Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)

Aaron Ayzerov


Paramus, 170lbs

Accolades: State Finalist, 3x State Qualifier, 3x District Champion & Super 32 Placewinner

Future Plans: Columbia

Quote: The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me. – Ayn Rand

Favorite Wrestler: American? Jordan Oliver. International? Haji Aliyev

Favorite Song/Artist: Don’t Stop the Party – Pitbull

Favorite Thing to Do Outside of Wrestling: Working out, reading, and the stock market

Looking Ahead to Next Year in His Own Words: “I’m so excited for Columbia. It’s basically been a dream school of mine since I knew what college was…I knew that was the choice for me before I even got a call.”


Isaac Dean


Shawnee, 182lbs

Accolades: Region 7 Champion & District 25 Champion

Future Plans: Undecided

Quote: Failure is not an option for me. Success is all I envision. – Conor McGregor

Favorite Wrestler: All Time? Jordan Burroughs. College wrestler? Roman Bravo-Young.

Favorite Song/Artist: Pursuit of Happiness - Kid Cudi

Biggest Inspiration: My brother and Coach [Kyle] Packer

Expectations for His Senior Year in His Own Words: “My junior year, I fell in love with the sport and really bought into what my coaches were telling me and just kept going. I really hit my stride. [This year] My energy on the mat is going to be impressive. I’m going to shock a lot of people.”


Kelly Dunnigan


Don Bosco, 126lbs

Accolades: State Finalist, 2x State Placewinner, Region 1 Champion & District 4 Champion

Future Plans: Penn

Quote: Never let people who choose the path of least resistance steer you away from your chosen path of most resistance. – David Goggins

Favorite Wrestler: Zain Retherford or David Taylor

Favorite Thing to Do Outside of Wrestling: Cliff-jumping with friends

Favorite Athlete: Pete Rose or Bo Jackson

What It Means to Be a New Jersey Wrestler in His Own Words: “It’s definitely something I’m proud of because I think we have the best state and the hardest state championships…We’re tough, we’re gritty, and we like to scrap.”


Nicholas Franco


Paramus Catholic, 160lbs

Accolades: 2x State Qualifier & 2x District Champion

Future Plans: Undecided

Quote: Life ain’t no rehearsal. The camera’s always rolling. - Drake

Favorite Wrestler: Jordan Burroughs

Favorite Song/Artist: Through the Wire – Kanye West

Favorite Athlete: My dad – a former Mr. New Jersey bodybuilder

Expectations for His Senior Year in His Own Words: “Based on last year’s state tournament and season I definitely saw the potential that I had…when I put the work in this offseason, I got better really fast. That’s why I’m excited about college wrestling because I know I still have a lot more potential.”


Hunter Gandy


Woodstown, 152lbs

Accolades: 3x State Qualifier, 2x Region 8 Champion & 2x District 29 Champion

Future Plans: Penn

Quote: Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. – Jonathan L. Seagull

Favorite Wrestler: Jordan Burroughs

Favorite Song/Artist: Tim McGraw

Favorite Wrestling Shoe: Among the collection, it’s the team-issued Ohio State 2K4’s. But favorite shoe to compete in - Nike Freaks.

Looking Ahead to Next Year in His Own Words: “I’m excited to continue my wrestling career, especially at a school like Penn where I’m going to get a high-level education, meet a lot of new people and expand my craft around a lot of great wrestling coaches.”


Eddie Hummel


Southern, 138lbs

Accolades: 2x State Placewinner & 2x District Champion

Future Plans: Undecided

Quote: Maximum effort. - Deadpool

Favorite Wrestler: Bo Nickal

Favorite Win: Last season’s bloodround win at state’s over the opponent who beat him in the Region 8 final just a week before. The victory was followed by a violent headgear spike, as seen in the photo above. It was one of Hummel’s seven straight wins on the backside to place third at the 2020 state tournament.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: The Avengers

Biggest Inspiration in His Own Words: “Definitely, my dad. Driving all around the state and just spending that time with him – I try to do everything that he would want me to do.”


Mike Misita


St Augustine, 220lbs

Accolades: State Placewinner, 3x State Qualifier, 2x Region 8 Champion, 3x District Champion

Future Plans: Undecided

Quote: It’s hard to get ready when you stay ready! – Will Smith

Favorite Wrestler: Logan Stieber or Kyle Snyder

Favorite TV Show: Rick and Morty

Favorite Thing to Do Outside of Wrestling: Playing basketball with friends.

What It Means to Be a New Jersey Wrestler in His Own Words: “I think it means everything. New Jersey guys are just so much different. We’re a small state but we always bring a punch.”


Nico Nardone


Delbarton, 132lbs

Accolades: 3x State Placewinner, Region 3 Champion, 3x District Champion & Super 32 Finalist

Future Plans: Penn

Quote: Always do right; this will gratify some people and astonish the rest. – Mark Twain

Favorite Wrestler: Cory Cooperman

Favorite Wrestling Shoe: Nike Inflicts

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Entourage

Favorite Win in His Own Words: “You wouldn’t think you’d miss the season because it can be really tough, at times. But then you end up really missing it when you think of those memories [last season’s win over Bergen Catholic]. Just the way the school reacted to it…Now, everyone knows Delbarton Wrestling.”


Joey Olivieri


Hanover Park, 138lbs

Accolades: 2x State Champion, 3x State Placewinner, 3x Region 3 Champion, 3x District Champion & Beast of the East Finalist

Future Plans: Rutgers

Quote: Life is too short to be puny. – Joe Black

Favorite Wrestler: Anthony Ashnault

Biggest Inspiration: My brother

Favorite Win: State finals victories in 2018 and 2020 when he and his cousin Anthony Clark (Delbarton) won at back-to-back weights

What It Means to Be a New Jersey Wrestler in His Own Words: “Honestly, it means everything to me. Wrestling in all these national tournaments as a kid…You never want to see anyone beat Jersey. It’s such a strong wrestling community. Who would want to go away from that?”


Dean Peterson


St John Vianney, 126lbs

Accolades: 2x State Champion, 3x State Finalist, 3x Region 5 Champion, 3x District Champion, 3x Shore Conference Champion, Beast of the East Champion & 2020 Who’s #1 Champion

Future Plans: Princeton

Quote: Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory. – Bruce Lee

Favorite Wrestler: Jordan Burroughs

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Favorite Thing to do Outside of Wrestling: Gaming. Go follow Dean on Twitch - deanthemachine02

What It Means to Be a New Jersey Wrestler in His Own Words: “Oh, It’s the best. The people, the fans…it’s Dirty Jersey. They hate us. We’re the best.”


Vincent Santaniello


Brick Memorial, 126lbs

Accolades: State Finalist, 3x State Placewinner, 2x Region 7 Champion & 3x District Champion

Future Plans: Navy

Quote: Work Hard. Stay Humble. Dream Big. – Shore Thing Wrestling Club motto

Favorite Wrestler: Ed Ruth

Favorite Thing to Do Outside of Wrestling: Fishing and Surfing

Favorite Athlete: Michael Jordan

What He Misses About the Delayed Season in His Own Words: “Honestly, just being in the room and seeing all of the guys, seeing my coaches, working out in there with my brother…just being in that room and grinding.”


David Szuba


Brick Memorial, HWT

Accolades: State Finalist, 3x State Qualifier & 2x District 27 Champion

Future Plans: Rider

Quote: Let not the one who puts on his armor boast like the one who takes it off. – 1 Kings 20:11

Favorite Wrestler: Brock Lesnar

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Napoleon Dynamite

Favorite Athlete: Tim Tebow

His Wrestling Style in His Own Words: “I like big moves. I actually started with Judo before wrestling. So, I don’t catch people. I just throw ‘em, man.”


Dylan Weaver


Lyndhurst, 160lbs

Accolades: 2x State Placewinner, 3x State Qualifier, 2x Region 3 Champion & 3x District Champion

Future Plans: Rutgers

Quote: Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. – Muhammad Ali

Favorite Wrestler: Donny Pritzlaff – a Lyndhurst boy and Weaver’s future coach.

Favorite Win: His pin freshman year in Bergen Catholic’s epic 33-19 victory over Blair Academy at the Who’s #1 Duals.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: The Sopranos

Looking Ahead to Next Year in His Own Words: “Wrestling in front of Jersey fans in the RAC – you can’t get better than that. I can’t wait to put that singlet on with that big R on my chest and represent New Jersey and represent the Big Ten.”


Anthony White


South Plainfield, 145lbs

Accolades: State Placewinner, 2x Region 5 Champion, 3x District Champion & Super 32 Placewinner

Future Plans: Rutgers

Quote: Do or do not. There is no try – Yoda

Favorite Wrestler: Anthony Ashnault

Biggest Inspiration: My grandparents

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

What It’s Like Growing Up in South Plainfield In His Own Words: “Honestly, it’s just a cool town, in general. Growing up in the recreational program, then the middle school program, and now high school. Watching guys like Ashnault…those guys are like professional athletes now. Growing up watching that and now the last few years wrestling it out, it’s almost like a dream come true.”


Other Standout Seniors

120

Kaelan Francois

126

Ethan Fernandez

Patrick Adams

Frank DiEsso

Mike Tandurella

132

Shane Percelay

Patrick Phillips

Jack Maida

Nathan Fitt

Drake Torrington

Jack Bertha

Conner Quinn

138

Austin Jack

Sean Rendeiro

Michael Conklin

Jake Gentile

Brandon Bowles

Josh Gervey

145

Michael Cetta

Spencer Stewart

Matt Hoelke

Finnegan McFadden

Charlie Sabino

152

Colton Washleski

Logan Waller

Nate Camiscioli

Cooper Pontelandolfo

Max Brignola

Cole Carroll

160

Blake Bahna

Michael McGhee

170

James Holder

Norman Cella

Jack Janda

Jack Farinaro

Paul Jakub

182

Jack Kelly

Jacob Whitworth

Luke Schaffer

Austin Raynor

195

Blake Clayton

Thomas Renna

Kevin Pandorf

Tommy Goodwin

John Dusza

Jack Wilt

Alexi Giordano

Nicholas Lodato

Gavin Claro

220

Mike Toranzo

Cody Thurston

Jackson Crawn

Hunter Suter

Zachary Andruchowitz

HWT

John O’Donnell

Jeffery Jordan

Joseph Teresi

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We'll be keeping ACC fans in the loop with live updates here. If you can't watch the action, refresh this page often to keep up with all the action.

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