2006-03-15 / Sports
Parisi second at state wrestling championships
BY TIM MORRIS
It was his coach, William Wernst, who needed the pre-match reassurance prior to the start of the state wrestling finals in Atlantic City.
"Nick said, 'Coach, relax. Everything is fine,' " said Wernst. "He was more relaxed than I was."
Parisi was writing the final chapter in his illustrious record-breaking career, and looking to become Marlboro's first state champion when he went up against Lodi's Keith Dobish in the 189-pound final. He was already the school's all-time winningest wrestler (128 wins), a four-time District winner and the first Region champion.
The final chapter did not have the conclusion that Parisi wanted. He lost 3-1 to Dobish on a late, first-period takedown.
"He [Dobish] was a very tough wrestler," said Wernst. "They were both good at shutting down what each other were doing.
"He counterattacked a nearside takedown move by Nick and got his takedown in the final 30 seconds," said Wernst. "He saw an opening and took advantage."
No more points would be scored by the wrestlers on their feet. Both would score on escapes, producing the final 3-1 score.
"Nick told me that he [Dobish] was the strongest wrestler he's ever faced," the coach said.
Parisi did not get a free pass to the final, having to win three matches before facing off with Dobish. Having been a state placewinner last year, Parisi was accustomed to the frenzy that is the state championships, and that helped him march through to his appointed meeting with Dobish.
"Throughout the tournament, he was relaxed and confident," said Wernst. "He just wrestled so well. It's the best I've seen him. He was focused on the match at hand."
Parisi finished the season 37-1 and 128-13 for his career.
Although Parisi's legacy at Marlboro won't include a state championship, it hardly matters. He has raised the bar for both individual and team performance at the school. The Mustangs enjoyed their winningest dual-meet seasons since he first showed up at the high school, and then there is his track record. He has taken it to another level and paved the way for future Marlboro stars.
Parisi's impact on the team is already making its presence felt.
"More kids are wrestling in the offseason at clubs and in tournaments," said Wernst. "They are putting in the hard work. Nick is a gifted wrestler, but 95 percent of what he achieved was through hard work."
Howell's Billy Woodward didn't win the last match of his career either, but it didn't matter, he got what he was after in Atlantic City - the distinction of being a state placewinner and 100 career wins.
"It's what I wanted to do, place in the states," he said. "I worked all season for this."
The Rebel senior said that the experience of having been to A.C. the last two years was a big factor to his success this year. He said that he was more relaxed this year.
Woodward placed sixth at 152 pounds, falling to Chris Norrell of Phillipsburg, 2-0, in the fifth-place consolation match. In all, Woodward won four matches in A.C. to bring his season total to 35 and 101 for his career.
He's just the second Rebel to reach the century mark, trailing only Zac Cunliffe, a four-time state placewinner who had 138 career wins. It was Cunliffe, Woodward said, who was his inspiration when he was a freshman.
Howell coach John Gagliano said that Howell freshmen and sophomores of today have Woodward for a role model.
"We're so proud of him," said Gagliano. "He's been a great leader and a great example for the other kids to follow. It's great for the program."
Woodward left his own mark at Howell, graduating with those 101 wins, two District titles, a Region crown and this year's sixth place. He is the first Rebel to place at the states since Cunliffe in 2003, and his 35 wins are second best in school history for a season behind only Cunliffe's 36.
There is also the team success that Woodward values the most. Howell won the Shore Conference A North Division crown and two tournaments (Battle at the Beach in Delaware and Roselle Park), and for the first time ever, made it to the Central Jersey Group IV championship match, falling to state No. 1 Jackson.