UPDATED: Columbia HS wrestlers Naquan Tory and Blake McGowan reach state finals in Atlantic City

Blake McGowan, middle, stands on the podium after winning first place at the Belleville HS tournament this season.
Photos courtesy of James McGowan.
Blake McGowan, left, and Naquan Tory pose from the Region 3 tournament at West Orange HS

MAPLEWOOD, NJ – Columbia High School wrestlers Naquan Tory and Blake McGowan finished in the top four of their respective weight divisions at the NJSIAA Region 3 tournament held at West Orange HS, Feb. 21-23.

As a result, Tory and McGowan, both seniors, qualified for the NJSIAA state finals at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Feb. 28, March 1-2. The top four finishers in each weight division at the regions earned berths for the state finals.

Tory finished in third place in the 106-pound class. After losing in the quarterfinals Friday, Feb. 22, Tory returned the next day and won in the consolation quarterfinals and consolation semifinals. In the third-fourth place consolation Feb. 23, Tory won by injury default over Dylan Guido of Rutherford in 1:20, avenging a loss to Guido in the quarterfinals the previous night.

McGowan finished in fourth place in the 170-pound division after getting pinned by Wood-Ridge’s Bradley Mika in the third-fourth place bout.

Junior Cahlil Love Jr. and freshman Tyson Carroll were the other CHS competitors at the region tournament, which consisted of the top three finishers in each weight division at the district tournaments. Region 3 consisted of Districts 9, 10, 11 and 12. CHS competed at District 10 at Randolph HS.

At the region tournament, Love Jr.  finished in fifth place in the 132-pound division. Carroll, at 182, lost in the first round Feb. 21 to become eliminated.

This marks the second straight year that the Cougars will have at least one wrestler in the state finals. Last year, Galileo Hetherington competed in the 285-pound division, the first CHS wrestler at the state finals since 2013 with Rodney Cenat, another 285-pounder.

CHS second-year head coach Mike Freedman has coached a wrestler at the state finals in 11 of his 14 years of coaching.

Freedman, indeed, was proud of his wrestlers’ performances.

“Naquan has only been wrestling for two years, so to put into perspective of what he’s already accomplished, is quite amazing,” wrote Freedman to EssexNewsDaily.com. “This year his record is currently 35-6. He is the first Columbia district champion since 2013. He finished third in the Region and has tremendous momentum heading into the state tournament.  The coaching staff feels he has the tools to even make the podium in Atlantic City.

“Blake McGowan, who is 35-7, wrestled a very strong region tournament.  Blake finished fourth in a very deep weight class. He has been really coming on strong of late.  When Blake is able to get the first takedown, he is extremely dangerous because he goes immediately into his turns and can put a ton of points up very quickly as he is did the region quaterfinals.

“CJ (Cahil) finished fifth place and has established himself with strong criteria for next season  Cj defeated both the third seed (Peter Tringali of Mendham) and the fourth seed (Carl Banks of Irvington) to take fifth.  He has improved leaps and bounds on the season and showed this weekend that he is capable of being a state caliber wrestler.

“Tyson making the district finals is very impressive and he will look to build on this for next year and has set up criteria for himself going forward.”

Region 3

CHS results

First round, Feb. 21

106: Tory, bye

132: Love Jr. technical fall over Brandon Vanzini, Kearny, 15-0, 4:07.

170: McGowan pinned AJ Hill, West Morris, 0:47.

182: Terrell White, Montclair, pinned Carroll, 4:13.

Quarterfinals, Feb. 22

106: Dylan Guido, Rutherford, pinned Tory, 2:27.

132: Love Jr. pinned Peter Tringali, Mendham, 3:32.

170: McGowan decisioned Andrew Bryan, Mendham, 10-3.

Semifinals, Feb. 23

132: Eli Shepard, West Morris, decisioned Love Jr., 9-4.

170: Nick Riggio, Verona, decisioned McGowan, 7-4.

Consolation quarterfinals, Feb. 23

106: Tory pinned Thomas Fischer, Delbarton, 5:28.

Consolation semifinals

106: Tory pinned Ricardo Caamano, Caldwell, 2:07.

132: Jack Sharma, Delbarton, decisioned Love Jr., 10-7.

170: McGowan pinned Brian DiPalma, West Orange, 3:20.

Ffith-sixth place consolation

132: Love Jr. decisioned Carl Banks, Irvington, 3-1.

Third-fourth place consolations

106: Tory by injury default over Guido, 1:20

170: Bradley Mika, Wood-Ridge, pinned McGowan, 2:38.

Editor’s note: C.J. Love Jr. finished in fifth place, not in sixth place, as previously stated in this article.

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