Earlier this month, Oak Hills’ Robert Marchese became the first two-time state placer in school history, and on Thursday he became the first to reach the finals of the NHSCA Wrestling Championship junior division.
Now he can become the High Desert’s first national champion.
“For how I placed at state, taking All-American was more of a sentimental feeling,” said Marchese, who battled through pain in both his knees to finish seventh at the CIF State Wrestling Championships earlier this month.While Marchese (171 pounds) isn’t the first junior or underclassman from the High Desert to place at the tournament, he’s the first to reach a weight-division championship. The junior is only the second from the area to reach the finals at Nationals after Lionel Apineru finished second in the senior division in 2001.
Marchese — seeded seventh — opened the day by pinning Ohio’s Garrick Montgomery. Then he picked up an overtime win over second-seeded Kyle Koziel (a two-time state champion in Florida) in the quarterfinals and then beat Tony Pafumi — a state placer in New Jersey this past season — on a takedown in overtime.
Marchese will now face CIF State Champion Nikko Reyes (No. 10 @ 171), whom he faced two years ago at the Frosh/Soph State Wrestling Championship, this evening. He won the match due to Reyes injury defaulting.