Willingboro's Scotton, Green looking for gold

Willingboro's Tyler Scotton (left) was the state runner-up at 130 pounds last year. He will be aiming for the 135-pound crown.
Willingboro's Tyler Scotton (left) was the state runner-up at 130 pounds last year. He will be aiming for the 135-pound crown.
Posted: February 19, 2011

As wrestling shifts from team to individual competition, Willingboro's Tyler Scotton and James Green are in a class by themselves.

The seniors are the only returning South Jersey state finalists from last season.

Scotton was the state runner-up at 130 pounds to Queen of Peace's Frank Cagnita, who graduated. At 140, Green lost to Eastern's Hank Stinson, who also graduated.

Scotton and Green are the No. 1 seeds at 135 and 145 pounds, respectively, in District 26 competition Saturday at Holy Cross.

Scotton, the defending district champion at 130, was undefeated, 25-0, when he entered the competition Friday at 135. He knows that he is expected to do nothing but win, and he is comfortable with that.

"My goal is to sweep all three," Scotton said when asked about district, region, and state competition. "This year, there's nothing new; I'm just improving on what gave me success last year, being on my feet. That's where I like to be. I'm fast and comfortable on my feet."

The Boston University-bound wrestler said he was nervous in the state final last year because that was the first time he had made it that far. He now has a different attitude for the entire tournament - districts, regionals, and states.

"I don't feel any pressure," Scotton said. "It's my senior year, I'm going to leave everything on the mat and wrestle like I know how."

If Scotton and/or Green win a state crown, it would be a first in Willingboro's wrestling history.

Green also works better on his feet, according to Willingboro coach Mark Cuniglio. His record is 19-0 and is a reflection of the off-season work he put into the sport.

"Green should be in the [state] final and win," Cuniglio said. "That's his goal and my goal."

Happy host. Collingswood is hosting the District 28 tournament, and that was fine with Panthers coach Dechlin Moody.

"It gives us an advantage because we can warm up in our own wrestling room and there's no travel," Moody said.

Collingswood's first-year coach added that Tony Giancola, Eric Hamrick, and Taylor Venanzi have a good chance to win at 103, 140, and 171, respectively.

"Hamrick will be down to 140," Moody said. "He has wrestled at 152 most of the year, so he will be strong."

Birmingham delivers. Timber Creek's Kevin Birmingham embarks upon a mission to win a state title at 135 pounds after reaching a milestone and breaking a school record.

Birmingham, a senior, won his 100th bout Dec. 27 at the Brick Memorial tournament and then went on to surpass Timber Creek's career wins mark of 106, set by Sly Hall in 2008.

Birmingham's record entering districts was 121-22.

Birmingham said hitting the century mark was one of his high school goals and breaking the record "was cool, too, but my main goal is to win a district title, a region title, and make some noise at states."

Garnets glisten. Haddon Heights, which finished with a 20-10 record, entered the District 28 individual championships at Collingswood with three wrestlers who could advance to regional competition.

Patrick Lynch, at 189 pounds, entered the event with a 30-3 record. Brothers Alex and Ryan Thompson stepped in at 215 and heavyweight, respectively, with identical 28-7 records.

The Garnets' team record tied last year's mark, which broke the school record of 17 victories, set in 1996.

Contact staff writer Bill Iezzi

at 856-779-3826

or biezzi@phillynews.com.

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