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Friday, March 8, 2013


WWW.THEDAILYJOURNAL.COM Friday, March 8, 2013 C5 Eight mats line the floor of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall
WWW.THEDAILYJOURNAL.COM Friday, March 8, 2013 C5 Eight mats line the floor of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall

Eight mats line the floor of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for the individual state championships, high school

wrestling’s biggest stage. GANNETT NEW JERSEY FILE PHOTO

Big dreams await in A.C.

O ver the first two

weeks of the individ-

ual tournament,

wrestlers have encoun- tered familiar surround- ings. The venues were high school gymnasiums filled with a typical-sized crowd and their opponents were wrestlers they most likely had seen before. However, in Atlantic City, a town of bright lights and big dreams, every- thing is magnified. The tournament is larg- er, the building is massive and the competition is a mine field of 20 or more wrestlers who have more than 30 wins apiece. The lights, the pres- sure, the eyes and the com- petition can either make or break a wrestler once they make to the state tourna- ment in Boardwalk Hall. “There’s nothing else like it,” Delsea’s Bryan Dobzanski said. “Just the crowd gets you so excited and everything, there’s really nothing like it. I can’t wait to come back to it (tonight), just standing in front of the crowd, every- body looking down at me and wrestling, the crowd getting thrilled, hearing all the upsets.” More than any other tournament or match — or anything else in high school sports — the state


tournament requires knowledge and experi- ence. “I know this time it’s a lot less nerve wracking,” Dobzanski said. “Last year, the first match, I was pret- ty nervous about the whole thing. But I got warmed up and into it and I just started some beating some really good kids.” Hundreds of spotlights shine down from the 120- foot ceilings and each take- down gets an enthusiastic call of “TWO!” from the thousands of spectators. Even with as many as eight mats being used, one can’t help but think that all eyes on you. “There’s so many peo- ple watching you,” Del- sea’s Dylan Dobzanski, Bryan’s cousin, said. “It’s just a great feeling. You want to show all those peo- ple what you can do.” Even if you have team- mates in Boardwalk Hall warming up with you, the logo on the uniform mat- ters a little less.

“It’s all you,” Buena’s Billy Ward said. “You have your team singlet on, you’ve got your warmup on, but it’s you. When your coaches are in your corner, they’re not worried about anything else with your team. And that’s how you have to think about it. ‘I’m out here, I’m going to rep- resent my school, but this is for me.’ “And that’s kind of what makes states unique. I think that’s why every- body is so into it.” The wrestlers who fare well in Atlantic City are the ones that can feed off the energy. “All the fans, all the peo- ple, all the colleges there, it just adds to the motiva- tion,” Dylan Dobzanski said. “Last year when I went in there, I was just like, ‘What am I doing here?’ That’s what I was thinking when I was wres- tling (eventual state cham- pion Johnny) Sebastian and he whooped my (butt). This year I’m hoping it doesn’t make me more ner- vous, I hope it makes me more motivated.” But as exciting as it may be to make it there, wrestling in the state tour- nament, especially the first time, can be over- whelming. “I think I’m used to it,”

St. Augustine senior Tom Gattinella said. “The first couple of times, it got to me. It made me wrestle tentative.” Of the 11local wrestlers who are in action this weekend in the tourna- ment, five have experi- ence at states. It’s up to wrestlers like Gattinella, who is in his third state tournament, to help out the younger guys, like sopho- more teammate Jarred Hodges, who is making his first appearance. “I’ll tell him, ‘Just soak it all in, get used to it,’ be- cause he’ll be there two more times,” Gattinella said. “I got nervous my first time, so he’ll probably get the same feeling.” With the level of compe- tition, first trips are often short-lived though. “There are no scrubs down there, you have to bring your A-game every match and you have to be on point with everything you do,” Dylan Dobzanski said. If you’re just a little off your game, that building, that crowd, those lights and that opponent can beat you.

Patrick Buganski covers high school wrestling for The Daily Journal. He can be reached at (856) 563- 5255 or pbuganski@


Delsea Regional High School’s Bryan Dobzanski is the top seed at 220 pounds. The undefeated junior is the favorite of many to win a state title this weekend. He’s also a three-sport star at Delsea, excelling in football and as a pitcher in baseball. He recently spoke with The Mat Pack about his tournament, his team and his sports.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on being the No. 1 overall seed?

ANSWER: It’s definitely a lot of people looking down on you, thinking they’re going to take that first seed, beat you and upset you for the state title. A lot of people, community-wise, their hopes are on me, they’re thinking (I’m) the top seed (I) should win this. So it’s a lot of pressure, definitely.

Q: What are your thoughts on being undefeated?

A: I know I want to keep the streak going. I want to finish this season undefeated. Then the pressure comes in because you don’t want to lose it, and there’s a target on your back because people know you’re undefeat- ed.

Q: Is baseball still your top sport?

A: I’m having shoulder problems and I broke my finger during regions. It’s going to be tough out there on the baseball field after wrestling is done. But in the moment, I’m not thinking about baseball at all, I’m all wrestling.

Q: How do you feel right now?

A: I’ve wrestled with the (bro- ken) finger twice, I felt great, it didn’t really bother me, I taped it up. The shoulder, I’ve been

WWW.THEDAILYJOURNAL.COM Friday, March 8, 2013 C5 Eight mats line the floor of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall
220 pounds

wrestling with for two years so I’ve been fine with it. I feel healthy, I’ll just get my sleep and drink plenty of fluids and I’ll feel great.

Q: What does working in a good room like Delsea’s do for a wrestler?

A: It makes the kids so much better, just because it’s Delsea, all these titles and everything. The coaches, they’re the top level, they’ve all been to A.C. and stuff, they get us prepared and they have high goals for us.

Q: How does it feel to not be cutting weight?

A: It’s good. I’m going to Wawa after this and getting a pulled pork. It kind of stinks too, be- cause these kids are coming in much heavier, they’re losing a little bit of weight, and I’m struggling to stay above 215. But it doesn’t really bother me because I was wrestling 285 all year. I know I can handle it. But I love it, I love eating in front of people.

Q: You were cutting a little weight last year. Do you feel different this year?

A: Mentally, I’m a lot happier. For the heavier weights, it’s more of a mental thing. But for the lower weights it takes more of a physical toll. It’s pretty bad down there.


WWW.THEDAILYJOURNAL.COM Friday, March 8, 2013 C5 Eight mats line the floor of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall
WWW.THEDAILYJOURNAL.COM Friday, March 8, 2013 C5 Eight mats line the floor of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall

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Bobby Hogan, Millville

1957, 1958


John Disanti, Vineland



Hank Mazzoni, Vineland



Dave Homiak, Vineland



Chris Ianacone, Delsea



Dan DeTullio, Millville



Jim TenBrook, Millville



Doug Taylor, Millville



Bob Malatesta, St. Augustine



George Chew, Cumberland



Toby Fagan, Millville



Mark Saul, Millville

1995, 1996


Joe Alexander, Delsea

1997, 1998


Larry Smashey, Delsea



Don Fisch, Delsea

2001, 2002


Anthony Baldosaro, Delsea


106 Josh Pineda, Vineland Reid White, St. Augustine Collin Donahue, St. Augustine Hector Marrero, Cumberland 23-5
Josh Pineda, Vineland
Reid White, St. Augustine
Collin Donahue, St. Augustine
Hector Marrero, Cumberland


» Buena’s Billy Ward, Timber Creek’s Brandon Keller and Camden Catholic’s T.J. Miller all became four-time regional champions last weekend, extending the list of South Jersey wrestlers to accomplish the feat to 20. It is the third time the area had three four-time champions in the same year. In 2003, Camden Catholic’s Ed Giosa, Holy Cross’ Adam Cooney and Oakcrest’s C.J. Mays accomplished the feat. Seven years later, Paulsboro’s Joey Duca, Eastern’s Anthony Baldosaro and Eastern’s Preston Keiffer achieved the milestone.

» Timber Creek almost pulled off an incredible trifecta at Re- gion 8. After crowning four regional champions each of the previous two years, the Chargers captured three regional titles on Saturday and had a fourth in the finals. Eastern (2008-2010) is the only South Jersey team to crown four regional champions in three consecutive seasons. Bryce Shade, who was a two-time region champ, was the only Charger to lose in the final.

» Atlantic City’s Cesar Balmaceda is the first wrestler to wres- tle in his hometown in the state tournament. The Vikings hadn’t sent a wrestler to states since the 1970s, long before they start- ed holding the event at Boardwalk Hall. The Vikings’ last state placewinner was Marty Cheatham in 1970.

» Camden’s Andrew Stevens is also making the trip to Board- walk Hall. The junior heavyweight is 28-2, with both losses

coming to Haddon Heights’ Alex Thompson by 4-2 and 1-0

decisions. The Panthers have had only two state placewinners in

their history with the last one, Kendall Gibson, coming in


» Team scores weren’t officially kept, but

kept a running total and Camden Catholic (Region 7) and

Delsea (Region 8) accumulated the most points in their regions

with 114.5 and 110, respectively. Shawnee and Paulsboro each

finished second.

» South Plainfield crowned five straight champions at Region 3 from 126 to 152 pounds. Casey Stasenko started the run at 126,

followed by Scott DelVecchio (132), Anthony Ashnault (138),

Troy Heilmann (145) and Dylan Painton (152).

» Hightstown’s Joey DeCristofaro was disqualified from the

Region 7 tournament for flagrant misconduct following an 8-2

semifinal loss at Region 7. The senior was 32-2 with 28 pins.