Montclair High School grapplers, Clermont, Lee fall short of trip to AC for state finals
Montclair’s Nelson Clermont might have been two-and-out in the New Jersey Region 3 wrestling tournament last week, but the Mountie grappler was basically a victory away from a trip to the state finals in Atlantic City.
Clermont, Montclair’s top heavyweight, fell short in his first match at West Orange High School in the regions, losing 8-4 to Delbarton's Connor Martin in the quarterfinals on Friday night, Feb. 24.
The Montclair senior would go on to the wrestleback quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 25, and drop a 5-3 decision to Bloomfield's Gabriel McCulloch, whom Clermont had defeated, 6-3, on Dec. 19.
Along with Clermont at the regionals, Montclair had sophomore Jayden Lee, who lost his only match, a 7-3 verdict to Nutley's Jacob Harlow in the first round.
Montclair first-year head coach Ryan Corbosiero said there were definite times in Clermont's match against Martin that could have led to his being in the finals instead of Martin.
Martin scored two points on a questionable call when both wrestlers were going out of bounds in the first period. Then, in the second period, Clermont came very close to pinning Martin, but the referee called him for unnecessary roughness.
While Clermont won the state District 12 title at Randolph, Corbosiero pointed out that the senior missed some training before the district tournament.
"Nelson missed the last two weeks of practice before the districts, so that definitely affected his conditioning," the coach said.
That might have affected Clermont in the wrestleback quarterfinals, where he could not get a takedown in the third period to advance another round. Instead, he lost to Bloomfield's McCulloch.
For Corbosiero, Clermont’s win over McCulloch in the regular season led him to believe that the senior had the ability to go far in the state individuals.
"This was when I realized how good of a wrestler Nelson was and saw the potential he had," the coach said. "We were confident going into the match, but after McCulloch kept it close to the third period it began to be a battle to get that takedown he needed in the third period."
In the regionals, Lee was looking to continue his momentum from finishing second at District 12 and reach the state finals in Atlantic City. The top four in each weight class at the regionals qualify for the state finals.
Unfortunately for Lee, the sophomore lost to Nutley's Harlow in the first round of Region 3, ending his run. Lee got the best of Harlow earlier in the season when Lee pinned him on Jan. 7 in the Belleville wrestling tournament.
"This time Jayden again got the quick takedown and almost got the fall, but Harlow fought out of it," Corbosiero said.
"As the match went on Harlow kept inching back closer and eventually took the lead. Jayden was in on multiple single legs during the match but couldn’t finish to get the points."
The coach said that Lee came the next day to the regionals even though he had been ousted.
"This was a huge learning experience for Jayden and set him for success next season," Corbosiero said. "Him being just a sophomore and pretty much a first-year wrestler, it is impressive that he made it as far as he did. He even came to watch the wrestling the next day, and I think him seeing the blood round and what it takes to get to Atlantic City, he’ll be ready to punch his ticket next season."
Lee will lead a reenergized Montclair program that hopes to build on its three dual match victories next season. Corbosiero also believes he will be able to increase the number of participants in the program in 2023-24.
In terms of the districts, Montclair was hindered by low seeds, sixth and seventh, so the wrestlers faced the toughest opponents in the districts in the first matches.
"I was not very happy after seeing many of the seeds our wrestlers had going into the district tournament," Corbosiero said. "Many of our wrestlers were peaking at the right time at the end of the season, but because of not having as much success in the beginning of the season and creating their own criteria, their seeds were affected."
State Individual Regional 3, West Orange
Jacob Harlow, Nutley, defeated Jayden Lee, Montclair 7-3
Connor Martin, Delbarton, defeated Nelson Clermont, 8-4
Gabriel McCulloch, Bloomfield, defeated Nelson Clermont, Montclair, 5-2
State Individual District 12, Randolph
Jayden Lee, Montclair pinned John Aritizabel, Madison, 5:53
Jayden Lee, Montclair, defeated Jeremiah Leonard, North Bergen, 8-5
Tyler Redfield, Warren Hills, pinned Jayden Lee, Montclair, 2:20
Bradon DiMase, Becton, pinned Jacob Bozzaotra, Montclair, 1:00
Connor Wysocki, Randolph, defeated Jack Nastri, Montclair, 6-0
Justin Bermeo, North Bergen, pinned Finneas Jones, Montclair, :58
Nicholas Mignone, Caldwell, defeated Jack Lebiedzinski, Montclair, 15-0, technical fall, 4:09
O'Maury Gray-Rice, Becton, pinned Noah Babboni, Montclair, 1:25
Joshua Palacio, North Bergen, pinned Shermar Harper, Montclair, 1:03
Nelson Clermont, Montclair, pinned, Rosario Montana, Mendham, 4:32
Nelson Clermont, Montclair, pinned Massimo Iaccopelli, Secaucus, 3:57