Tyler Klinsky and Jacob Anderson headed to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for the state wrestling tournament after they claimed region championships.
Both Middletown High School North wrestlers reached Atlantic City last year but fell short of placing.
Klinsky actually got there the last two years, and missed the podium each time.
Going into this year’s state tournament, though, Middletown North coach Matt Sirchio thought both wrestlers could make a run.
“With the way Tyler has wrestled, he’s the guy to beat,” Sirchio said before the tournament. “And Jake can be high on the podium if he’s healthy.”
Klinsky and Anderson made their coach look smart.
Klinsky reached the 106-pound state championship, though he lost to Hunterdon Central Regional High School’s Brett Ungar on March 2. Klinsky fell in the state final, 13-6.
Anderson made the 195-pound semifinals, where he wad defeated by Paramus High School’s Kyle Jacob by a close decision, 3-0. The senior ended up placing fifth in the state consolation bouts on March 2.
It was a strong finish to a great postseason for the teammates.
Klinsky and Anderson both entered the Region 6 tournament as No. 1 seeds. They were also competing against themselves.
Klinsky was trying to become the first wrestler in Middletown North history to win three regional titles. Anderson was trying to overcome a shoulder injury to win his first.
The teammates accomplished their missions at Jackson Liberty High School on Feb. 23.
In the 106-pound championship, Klinsky pinned Brick Township High School’s Evan Tallmadge in 4:33. In the 195-pound title match, Anderson earned a 5-0 decision over Northern Burlington County Regional High School’s Tommy Hill.
“I rode tough on top, got him onto his back and got a pin,” Klinsky said.
“After coming back from a shoulder injury, I just tried to put up points,” Anderson said. “Not pin everybody.”
Klinsky dominated his regional bracket, winning by technical fall, technical fall and a pin.
“He attacks and then his endurance helps him through,” said Middletown North coach Matt Sirchio.
Anderson did not dominate his regional field. The senior earned close decisions in his first two matches, 2-0 and 3-1, and another decision in the championship.
“He’s a sound wrestler in all three aspects,” Sirchio said. “Top, bottom and on his feet.”
Earlier in his career, Anderson suffered two shoulder injuries that required surgery. On Jan. 26 in the Shore Conference Tournament, he suffered another shoulder injury. This one didn’t require surgery, but it did keep Anderson off the mat for almost three weeks.
The doctor told Anderson to ice his shoulder as much as he could and “keep it in tight,” Anderson said. The senior returned for the District 22 Tournament on Feb. 16. While keeping his shoulder tight to his body, Anderson won the district title.
That experience taught him how to wrestle through the injury in the regional.
“It’s not about how I win,” he said. “Just that I keep advancing.”
Even with his state championship defeat, Klinsky is already the best wrestler in Middletown North history. And he will have a chance to add to his legacy next winter, as a senior.
“My name will be on the boards in the gym now,” Klinsky said. “Being able to look and say I did that is a great feeling.”
Anderson’s name will also be up there, though not as many times. Still, the fact that it’s up there is a lesson in perseverance to younger wrestlers.
“Most guys are out after two shoulder surgeries,” Sirchio said.
The senior may even wrestle in college next year. Division 3 coaches have been reaching out to him. But it will depend on his health after the season.
“I’m unsure,” Anderson said.