Seconds after Anthony Perrotti (H.M. @ 130) of West Essex stepped off the mat following a 6-5 setback to Chuck Zeisloft of Gateway in a fifth-place bout at the state tournament last season, the junior made a promise to himself.
He would be a state champion in 2011.
A year after making that promise, Perrotti stood at the top of the podium, acknowledging the crowd at Boardwalk Hall, symbolic of his winning the 130-pound state title.
“I set my mind to it last year,” Perrotti said. “I knew I had the talent. It was just a matter of working as hard as I could.”
“After I won, Mr. Russo came over and said he was proud that he and I are state champions from West Essex,” Perrotti said. “That meant a lot.”
Joining Seton Hall Prep’s Brenden Calas (H.M. @ 103), who won the NJSIAA title at 103 pounds, Perrotti’s championship marked the first time in 20 years that two Essex County wrestlers claimed gold in the same season. Belleville’s Emilio Nardone, a two-time state champion, and Caldwell’s Blake Maffei were the last to do it in 1991.