Gloucester's Lado advances in Region 8

Gloucester's Jon Lado wins on points over Woodstown's Dylan Weiss to advance to Friday's quarterfinals.
Gloucester's Jon Lado wins on points over Woodstown's Dylan Weiss to advance to Friday's quarterfinals. (DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 28, 2014

Jon Lado thought his coach was kidding him.

Before the first scrimmage of his freshman season, Lado listened while Gloucester coach Tom McConnell made a bold prediction: The kid with virtually no wrestling experience would finish his career with 100 victories.

"I thought he was just trying to motivate me," Lado said Wednesday night, after extending the best individual career in the short history of the revived Gloucester program.

Lado, a senior 145-pounder, beat Woodstown's Dylan Weiss by a 6-3 decision in the opening round of the Region 8 wrestling tournament at Egg Harbor Township.

Lado and all other winners from Wednesday's action on three mats advanced to Friday night's quarterfinals.

The semifinals and finals will be Saturday, with the top three finishers in each weight class advancing to the state championships March 7-9 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

"That's the goal," Lado said of becoming the first Gloucester wrestler to advance to the final stage of the individual state championships.

St. Augustine Prep advanced four wrestlers, as Reid White (106), Jarred Hodges (145), James Bennett (182), and James Brady (195) reached the quarterfinals.

Paulsboro advanced three: Anthony Duca (113), Mickey Croce (145), and Tom Paulsen (160).

West Deptford senior Dustin Zuzulock scored one of the most dramatic victories of the night with a 5-4 win over Washington Township sophomore Dom Pataky at 106 pounds.

Zuzulock was looking at the end of his career on a couple of occasions: down by 4-2 late in the third period and again at the buzzer at the end of the third.

But he scored a reversal to tie the score with 0:24 left, and Pataky's apparent takedown was ruled to be after the buzzer following a consultation between the officials.

"I'm a senior. It all happens now," Zuzulock said.

In overtime, neither wrestler scored in the first one-minute session, and neither scored in the two 30-second sessions.

Finally, in the last session, Zuzulock maintained control on top for 30 seconds to register the victory.

"This is the first time I ever got to Friday," said Zuzulock, who had lost in the opening round of the region tournament as a freshman and junior. "It's huge. It's the biggest accomplishment of my wrestling career."

Pennsville senior Drew Burdsall, wrestling for the first time since he was in the sixth grade, advanced with a 7-1 win over Woodstown's Nic Bonowski at 132 pounds.

Burdsall will face top-seeded Juan Rivera of Paulsboro in the quarterfinals.

"I feel like I have nothing to lose," Burdsall said. "But I'm competitive. Every time I step on the mat, I want to win."

Lado was in the eighth grade when Gloucester revived its wrestling program, which had been discontinued in the 1950s.

His older brother, Andrew, was a senior on the Lions' first team.

"I never even thought about wrestling," said Jon Lado, who participated in an embryonic youth program as an eighth grader. "I just used to watch my brother, and I thought I'd try it."

McConnell said he knew Lado would be successful when he first stepped on the mat.

"You can't guarantee anything, but you could see he was going to win a lot of matches," McConnell said. "The first thing is that he is very coachable. He listens. The second thing is that he hates losing.

"We play games in the room - he wants to win. You put those two things together, and you're going to have a good wrestler."

Lado has advanced beyond the coach's prediction back before that first scrimmage in December 2010.

Lado's victory Wednesday improved his season record to 33-4. He became the first Gloucester wrestler to reach 100 wins earlier this month and now has 111. (Gloucester 285-pounder Allan Westenberger finished his career with exactly 100 wins after dropping a 6-3 decision to Lower Cape May's Doug Flitcroft in Wednesday night's final bout.)

Lado showed his moxie in the bout with Weiss, a senior with a 26-6 record. Weiss took a 2-0 lead with an early takedown, but Lado battled back with two escapes and two takedowns to take a 6-2 lead after two periods.

"I knew I just needed to push the pace," Lado said. "I was sloppy at the beginning. I knew I had to get going because I don't want my career to end."


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