The future of Rutgers Wrestling continues to look bright after the 2022 NJSIAA State Championships that took place this past weekend at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
The Scarlet Knights had three recruits in action, all seniors, with High Point’s Brian Soldano (190lbs) and Boonton’s Joe Fongaro (144lbs) bringing home gold medals, while Passaic Valley’s PJ Casale (215lbs) grabbed a silver.
Senior Brian Soldano of High Point joined an elite group in New Jersey wrestling history when he took out Joshua Palacio of North Bergan by a 11-3 major decision at 190lbs to become the 33rd three-time NJ State Champion.
Soldano finishes his career with 126 wins, with 99 of them coming by way of pinfall. On top of that, he was undefeated against New Jersey competition for his final three years of high school.
Rutgers fans should be incredibly excited for the flashy Soldano to get his career started on the banks, with speculation already rampant concerning what weight the High Point wrestler will compete at while donning a scarlet singlet.
Boonton’s Senior Joe Fongaro took home the gold medal at 144lbs, upsetting top-seeded Ty Whalen of Clearview Regional, the returning State Champion.
Whalen had surrendered just two points in his first four matches at the tournament before the finals where Fongaro dropped double digits on the Princeton bound Whalen, taking the crown 10-9.
Coming into this year’s tournament, Fongaro had just a sixth-place medal to his name, but now has a place in Boonton history, becoming their first state champion in 30 years.
In the finals at 215lbs, Rutgers’ recruit PJ Casale, a 2020 State Champion who skipped the state tournament last season to test his mettle on the international circuit, took on Martin Cosgrove of Camden Catholic, also a 2020 State Champion you missed last season due to a broken hand.
It was the final match of the tournament, as most considered it to have the best potential to be a doozy and it lived up to the hype. Cosgrove built a 5-1 lead, but the future Scarlet Knight Casale stormed back to cut the margin to one but couldn’t get the match sealing takedown as the UPenn commit Cosgrove held on for the title.
The Scarlet Knights qualified seven wrestlers for the national tournament this past weekend at the Big Ten Championships, their most in five years, and reloading with recruits of this caliber shows the program isn’t slowing down any time soon.