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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

No high school sport is tougher than wrestling


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One of the best events of the high school sports year was held in Atlantic City last week as the top wrestlers in the state met at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall to compete at the state championships.


Few high school sporting events in New Jersey can equal the excitement under the old round roof at Boardwalk Hall where the action is intense on up to eight mats as fans pack the stands to cheer on their favorite wrestlers.


Locally, a pair of wrestlers competed this season, as Hammonton High School’s Shane Way and Luca Giagunto fell short as they chased state titles.


Many things always impresses me at the state championships, which in my opinion, should remain at Boardwalk Hall, which is a perfect venue for the state championships.


One is how difficult it is for the wrestlers.


I’ve always felt that wrestling was the toughest sport for an athlete. There are those who will argue that it’s much harder to play other sports, that they may be more physically demanding or require more skill.


I say nonsense.


Wrestling is as physical as any high school sport, maybe even more than all the others.


Wrestlers are on their own on the mat; there’s nowhere to hide. There are certainly other sports, tennis for example, or even gymnastics, where an athletes is alone on the field of play, but I still think wrestling is tougher.


A wrestler needs to be strong physically, he or she is literally grappling with an opponent.


They need to be strong mentally, not only to work strategies during a match, but to be able to handle the highs and lows that the sport throws at them.


It’s why emotions run so high, especially at the state championships, where wrestlers are often seen sobbing after losses or venting their anger at a match that didn’t go the way they wanted.


As someone who gave the sport a short try back in my high school days and has seen it at the highest levels as a reporter, I can honestly say that there is no sport harder on its athletes than wrestling.


Hundreds of wrestlers competed at the state championships last week. Only 14 won their lasts match.


They all deserved to be there and, at some point in the future, they’ll all realize how much it means just to take the mat at Boardwalk Hall and compete in what I believe to be the the toughest sport of all.


Dan Russoman is the news/sports director of The Gazette. Follow Russoman on Twitter @DanRussoman.

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