I’ve always thought that when it comes to interviewing high school athletes, the wrestler is as analytical as they come. And that’s not to say that student-athletes in other scholastic sports don’t get it, because there are plenty who are great to speak with, super intelligent and sharp as a tack.
So with those thoughts, here’s some perspective on Bergen Catholic’s Johnny Sebastian, who won his second straight NJSIAA wrestling title last Sunday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Sebastian, the 160-pound winner in 2012, added the 182-pound championship this season, but it wasn’t easy. He defeated previously undefeated David Williams of Hammonton, 4-3, in as physical a match as you can imagine.
Afterward, a classy Sebastian wasted little time in praising Williams.
“I didn’t know alot about him before this weekend,” Sebastian said. “But I watched him throughout the tournament and knew he was good. I didn’t realize how good until I got on the mat with him, but that’s what winning a state title is all about. It feels great to win it a second time, and to do it against a wrestler like him makes it all the more worthwhile.”
Sebastian’s coach, Dave Bell, who’s about as low-keyed as they come, admitted some trepidation.
“We figured he’d come out quickly and press the action against Johnny,” Bell said. “And that was pretty much what happened. Give Williams a lot of credit for his approach, and give Johnny his due for finding ways to score and then using his defense to finish the match.”
Williams got an early takedown to start the match, but Sebastian escaped for a point to end the first period. Sebastian scored three points in the second, including two on a take down, to lead 4-2 heading into the third.
Sebastian’s second title under the bright lights of a huge venue at sold out Boardwalk Hall didn’t phase him as much as winning a hard-fought match.
“It’s all about adjustments and being mentally tough,” Sebastian said. “He was really strong, so I had to take that into the way I wrestled. I pushed the pace after the first period and got some opportunities.”
Sebastian will now concentrate on a third state title in his senior year next winter.
“He’s a light 182 pounder,” Bell said. “I’m not sure at what weight class he’ll go next year, but he seemed very comfortable at 182. We’ll see. This was a great way to end his junior year, that’s for sure.”