It's been three years since Belvidere had a wrestler down at the NJSIAA Championships in Atlantic City.
Sophomore 106-pounder Quinn Melofchik made sure the County Seaters were represented at states this season.
He took third place at the Region 3 tournament on Saturday at West Orange High School.
Melofchik beat Jake Bursese of Hanover Park 8-2 in the consolation semifinals to clinch a trip to states next weekend. The County Seater then posted a 3-1 win over Will Grater of Queen of Peace to clinch third place.
"There's going to be a lot of family of mine coming down," Melofchik said about heading to Atlantic City. "I think it will be pretty cool. I've always wanted to wrestle in high school. I won a district title this year. And go down to A.C., I've wanted to do it for a long time."
"If we knew we were going to get somebody here, he was our front runner," Belvidere coach Dan McIntyre said. "He took fourth in the region last year as a 106-pounder. We knew he would dedicate himself over the fall. Going to the Dark Knights Club up in Stroudsburg. That's where (Nazareth's) Sammy Sasso goes and (Northampton's) Julian Chlebove. Doing the extras. Usually he played football, but he decided not to play football this year so he could put more into it. He has that ability. We were looking for him to get there."
It was important for Melofchik to take third place, even if he clinched the trip to states the round before.
"I missed it by a point last year, took fourth," Melofchik said. "I wanted to do better than last year and I did. I knew I was going but taking fourth, you get one of the last seeds, no matter what, no matter who you beat. That's why it was big to take third because you can get seeded higher."
Melofchik thinks he will perform well at states, even if he has to see regional champion Delbarton's Anthony Clark, who beat him in the quarterfinals.
"The kid from Delbarton, Clark, he's pretty legit. Lost 3-2 and that's somebody I can beat and I feel confident going to Atlantic City and beating those top-ranked kids," Melofchik said.
"The Delbarton kid, I guess he was third at Beast of the East. He's ranked 13th in the country and that was a 3-2 match," McIntyre said. "We got taken down. That kid doesn't make many mistakes. We lose 3-2. That's a kid who he could beat, but that's a kid who's pretty good. But I like his chances to medal down in A.C. I'd love to see him win it. I think there's a lot of parity at the 106-pound weight class. If that's one of the better kids, I don't see that he's heads and tails above everybody else."
And the County Seaters coach couldn't ask for the success to happen to a better person.
"He's a great kid. He's hard-working, dedicated, always willing to learn. He's the exact kid you want as your wrestler. If you have 14 of them, it would be awesome. Not just the ability, but the work ethic and the dedication," McIntyre said.
Josh Folck may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshFolck. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.
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