Cape’s Aaron Mattioni experienced a moment he will see vividly every day for the rest of his life. Sport prepares the athlete to deal with almost getting there, but Nirvana escapes most who challenge the summit.
Mattioni was on the bottom with a minute remaining in his state championship match against defending state champion Bubba Mancini of Salesianum. The score was tied at 2. Thomas Ott, waiting his turn by the side of the mat, screamed at Aaron, “Get out and you’re state champ! Get out and you’re state champ!”
Mattioni sat out and got out to lead 3-2, but he was quickly banged for a stalling point and the match was tied at 3. And just as quickly, with less than 10 seconds to go with both wrestlers heading out of bounds, Mattinoni got a two-point takedown and the Cape crowd went intercontinental ballistic nuclear warhead star wars missile. Mattioni had a 5-3 state championship victory.
“All I could hear was Tommy saying state champ and seeing my dad sitting in the coach's chair. I was that close; I just had to get it done, but I still can’t believe it,” Mattioni said moments after his win.
Ott and John Miller of Salesianum bounced around in place waiting for the 220- pound final to start. Miller, an athletic kid who breezed into the final, smacked himself on the butt like a self-starting horse. Thomas stared back like, “You’re about to get some of this, don’t worry.”
Tommy was on his game early and got in front quickly, and leading 10-4 in the third period had Miller up in the air when the ref stepped in and said, ”I don’t think that’s a good idea."
Ott became a three-time state champion and finished his career with 65 pins, one shy of former heavyweight state champ Matt Graviet, who was on the bench to catch Thomas and keep him from crushing Chris Mattioni.
“A great tournament for us. We brought 10 and nine placed in the top six," Mattioni said. “This is arguably the best team in Cape wrestling history.”
Justin Lopez at 170 and Nick Carroll at 285 placed second for the Vikings.
Elliot Young 138 and Austin Smith 160 wrestled back to get third.
J.J. Currie finished fourth while Emerson Fajardo at 106 and Andre Flowers at 182 earned fifth-place finishes.
“Our local wrestling community, along with our own staff, does a great job putting on this tournament,” Cape Athletic Director Bob Cilento said. “That was the third year in a row we hosted, and we’ll ask to do it again next year.”