Wrestlebacks offer redempton for Region VII place-winners

Steinert's River Ullrich, right, wrestles Moorestown's Tyreek Smith at 220 pounds Saturday. (Trentonian photo/ GREGG SLABODA)
Steinert's River Ullrich, right, wrestles Moorestown's Tyreek Smith at 220 pounds Saturday. (Trentonian photo/ GREGG SLABODA)

ROBBINSVILLE — For wrestlers trying to win their way to the state tournament through the regional consolation brackets, every match Saturday could end their season.

For seniors, it could end their careers.

“That’s where all the pressure was,” said Steinert senior Michael Remboski, who won three matches Saturday to finish third at heavyweight and advance to the state tournament in Atlantic City in the NJSIAA Region VII Tournament at Robbinsville High. “My mindset was that any match could be my last. I wanted to get to A.C., so that’s what I did.”

The top-three finishers in each weight class advance to the state tourney. A total of 11 locals moved on, with Robbinsville and Steinert sending three apiece. Bordentown and Northern Burlington each had two qualifiers.


Trenton’s Maaziah Bethea (152), Steinert’s Brandon Cray (106) and Robbinsville’s Chris Tan (113) won championships, while Northern Burlington’s Anthony Foggia (106), Bordentown’s Justin McTamney (138), Steinert’s River Ullrich (220) and Robbinsville’s Tyler Gildner (285) all had runner-up efforts.

Ullrich lost a 3-2 ultimate tiebreak decision to Moorestown’s Tyreek Smith, who finished eighth in the state last year. A four-time regional qualifier, Ullrich makes his first trip to Atlantic City. He finished fourth in last year’s regional tourney.

Gildner dropped a 3-1 decision in the heavyweight final to No. 1 seed Andrew Stevens of Camden but also earned his first trip to the state tournament. Gildner, who is 32-2, is a senior. The win was Stevens’s 100th, making him the first Camden wrestler to reach that milestone.

Remboski, who earlier this year handed Gildner his only loss prior to the regional final, was among a group of four local wrestlers to survive through wrestlebacks, along with Northern Burlington’s Vincent Foggia (113), Bordentown’s Rob DiPierro (126) and Robbinsville’s Nick Bossie (138). DiPierro and Bossie are seniors. Foggia is a sophomore.

DiPierro, like Remboski, had to win three times Saturday after losing in the quarterfinals Friday. He dropped his quarterfinal bout, 5-2, to Holy Cross’s Rob Rodolico but later beat Rodolico, 7-2, in the third-place match.

“I didn’t come with confidence and he did,” DiPierro said. “He had more heart. He broke me (Friday). I just wanted to bounce back and do the best I could. I knew any loss and I was done for the season. I didn’t want to lose. I didn’t realize it coming in (Friday), but it woke me up. I wanted to give it my all today. It worked out for me.”

DiPierro and Remboski both missed chances to wrestle at regionals last year because of injuries. Bossie’s biggest obstacle in the past was himself.

“It really felt good to pull out the win,” Bossie said of his third-place victory against Cherry Hill West’s Connor Rogovich. “It means finally proving I’m good enough. My whole high school career I’ve known I was good enough, I just never cared enough or put in the work.

“This year I really started to put it together. The last three years I feel I should have tried harder, but at least I pulled it together. Better late than never.”

Bossie, who dropped into the consolation round with a 5-2 loss to Bordentown’s McTamney, a returning state place-winner, also felt pressure Saturday.

“I know I was the five seed, but I know I was expected to place by everyone in Robbinsville, by myself, by a lot of other people,” Bossie said. “I knew I was expected to get there and it’s a relief to get it done.”