Jeff Goldberg contributed to this article.
WEST ORANGE, NJ – Seton Hall Prep wrestlers Charles Cunningham, Danny Young, Alex Garcia and Niko Diakides gave good efforts at the NJSIAA state finals at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, March 2-4. The four wrestlers were the lone qualifiers for the Pirates in the state finals, which consisted of the top four finishers in each weight class from the region tournaments.
All four wrestlers lost in their first match of the state finals in the preliminary round March 2.
The next day, they all returned to compete in the wrestleback rounds.
Diakides, a junior seeded No. 19 in the 285-pound heavyweight class, had the best run of the four Pirate wrestlers.
After dropping a 4-1 decision to No. 14 seed Brian Sidle of St. Joseph of Montvale in the preliminary round, Diakides won three straight do-or-die wrestleback bouts. He first decisioned No, 30 seed Eddie Bierals of DePaul, 2-1, in the wrestlebacks first round.
Following a 5-2 decision win over No. 20 seed Jacob Pidgeon of Somerville in the wrestlebacks second round, Diakides pinned No. 22 seed Wade Drugac of Morris Knolls in 5:36 in the wrestlebacks third round.
Diakides was just one win away from moving to the medal bracket. But he lost a heartbreaking 4-3 decision in the ultimate tiebreaker period to No. 2 seed Kevin Cerruti of Long Branch in the wrestlebacks fourth round to end his run.
Cunningham, a senior seeded No 8 in the 132-pound weight class, lost to No. 25 seed Alex Poniros in the preliminary round by a 5-4 decision. Cunningham then pinned No. 24 seed Ryan Figueroa of Hammonton in 12 seconds in the wrestlebacks first round. However, Cunningham dropped a tough 5-4 decision in the ultimate tiebreaker period to No. 10 seed Hunter Graf of Hunterdon Central in the wrestlebacks second round to end his run. Cunningham’s final record this season was 35-6. He finished his career with a 125-31 record, which puts him No. 3 on the all-time SHP win list.
Young, a senior seeded No. 18 in the 160-pound class, lost to No. 15 seed Kyle Jacob of Paramus, 6-3, in the preliminary round. Young decisioned No. 31 seed Dan Gorman of Southern Regional, 7-3, in the wrestlebacks first round. But Young was eliminated in the wrestlebacks second round after getting pinned by No. 17 seed Conor Panzarella of Donovan Catholic in 2:21. Young finished the season at 28-10 and 82-60 for his career.
Garcia, a sophomore seeded No. 28 in the 170-pound class, lost to fifth-seeded Shane Reitsma of Howell by a 9-1 major decision in the preliminary round. Garcia then lost to No. 12 seed Liam McDermott of Allentown by a 12-2 major decision in the wrestlebacks first round.
SHP senior Maguire Pecci, who finished in fifth place at 138 at the Region 4 tournament, finished this season at 21-5. His career record was 112-31, which ties him with Brenden Calas at No. 7 on the SHP all-time win list.