Men’s wrestling wraps up 2021-22 season with Johnson’s NCAA performance

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The University of New Jersey City men’s wrestling team has officially concluded its historic 2021-22 campaign after junior Jeff Johnson (Middlesex, NJ/Middlesex) fell twice today, Friday, March 11, at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships held at the prestigious Alliant Energy Powerhouse.

The 157-pound grappler became the first-ever NJCU wrestler to make it to the NCAA to compete for a National Championship opportunity and All-American status after placing third at the Division III Middle East Regional Championships of the NCAA, which took place in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. ., end of February.

To begin his quest for national recognition, Johnson had to face arguably his toughest opponent of the year, National No. 3 Nathan Lackman of Rhode Island College in the preliminary round. Lackman entered the tournament with a spotless 32-0 regular season record, including winning the NCAA Division III Northeast Regional 157-pound title. Johnson fought back early, but it wasn’t enough as Lachman eventually defeated the NJCU star by a major 10-0 decision. The loss pushed the Jersey native into the consolation bracket, needing a win to keep his hopes of All-American status alive.

Coming out hungry to keep his season intact, the 157-pounder took on New York University’s Trent Furman. Furman entered this game with a 27-7 record this season, including a second-place finish at the Northeast Regional, behind only Lackman. After falling 5-0 early in the fight, the Gothic Knight didn’t leave easily even though he was battling through injuries. Leaving it all on the mat in the third period, Johnson captured breakout and out points to cut their deficit to one at 5-4. But a late Lackman takedown sealed the grappler’s NYU victory by 7-4 decision, ending this year’s quest for national honors for Johnson and the NJCU wrestling program.

Johnson ended his stellar junior campaign posting a 17-8 record overall, including a 15-6 mark at 157 pounds and a 16-4 overall record in his previous 20 games, which included a 10-game winning streak consecutive. He finishes his season as a 157-pounder ranked No. 4 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Middle East Regional Rankings, and just like the rest of his green and gold teammates, he will return to the mat in 2022-23 looking to build on a successful year.

Looking back, that season will be remembered as the year the head coach Harry Turner and his team has entered not just New Jersey’s wrestling map, but the entire country.

Highlights of 2021-22 (first full season in program history):

  • First NCAA qualifier in program history
  • The team competed in the program’s first-ever NCAA Regional Championships
  • Four placement winners at Mideast Regionals
    • Johnson, third place-157
    • First-year student Damienlee Torres (West Orange, New Jersey/West Orange)seventh-125
    • First-year student Andre Ruiz (Little Ferry, NJ/Ridgefield Park)sixth-133
    • Junior Matthew Armamento (Kenilworth, NJ/Roselle Park)eighth-165 pounds

  • Finished 12th out of 25 teams at Middle East Regionals
  • Fought three Division I programs
  • Fought four programs ranked in the top 25
  • Recorded the first four doubles match wins in program history, including the first-ever at the John J. Moore Athletics and Fitness Center (JMAC)
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