IRVINGTON, NJ – Irvington High School wrestler Carl Napoleon enjoyed an inspiring run on the biggest stage.
The senior 285-pound heavyweight was just one win away from earning an NJSIAA state medal. Though he came up short, Napoleon demonstrated incredible perseverance at the NJSIAA state finals held at Boardwalk Hall, March 2-4.
After losing in his first match of the tournament, Napoleon was put in the wrestleback bracket with a chance to earn a state medal.
He certainly wanted to go home with a medal, winning three straight do-or-die bouts. But unfortunately, Napoleon then faced Pompton Lakes’ Drew Flynn, the No. 1 seed who had lost in the quarterfinals for his first loss of the season. Flynn prevailed, 2-0, to end Napoleon’s incredible run.
On the first night of the tournament on Friday, March 2, Napoleon, seeded 29th out of 32 wrestlers in the field, lost in the preliminary round to No. 4 seed Lamar Price of Sterling. Napoleon was pinned in 3:12. Price had a 35-0 record this season going into the tournament.
The following day, Napoleon was put in the wrestleback bracket. In the wrestlebacks first round, he pinned No. 13 seed Bailey Paster of Demarest in 5:47. Napoleon then posted an impressive 3-0 decision over No. 3 seed Jaylen Paige of Asbury Park in the wrestlebacks second round.
Napoleon won a grueling 4-3 decision in the ultimate tiebreaker period against No. 21 seed Matt Meloni of Collingswood in the wrestleback third round for his third straight win.
The victory put him in the wrestleback fourth round against Flynn, who was moved into the wrestleback fourth round after suffering his first defeat of the season with a 5-0 loss to No. 9 seed Kody Wood of Pennsville in the quarterfinals.
But Napoleon unfortunately couldn’t overcome Flynn. The winners in the wrestlebacks fourth round moved to the medal bracket. Medals are awarded to wrestlers who finished in third through eighth place. The medal rounds and championship bouts will take place Sunday, March 4.
After the 3-2 showing in the NJSIAA state finals, Napoleon unofficially finished his season with a 31-12 record. Napoleon was the lone IHS qualifier at the NJSIAA state finals, which consisted of the top four finishers in each weight class from the eight region tournaments. Napoleon took fourth place at Region 4 in Union. Napoleon advanced to the Region tournament after taking second at District 15 at Westfield. He also was runner-up in the Essex County Tournament this season, losing to Seton Hall Prep’s Niko Diakides, who also lost in the wrestleback quarterfinals at the NJSIAA state finals.