Anthony Knox is a rare breed, a wrestler so talented and driven that he aspires to achieve what so few have in the history of New Jersey wrestling. He entered high school with the goal of becoming a four-time state champion, and he is now halfway to his goal.
This weekend, the St. John Vianney sophomore was unbeatable during the three-day NJSIAA Wrestling State Tournament at Boardwalk Hall, dominating his opponents to win the New Jersey state championship at 120 pounds.
In five bouts, he outscored his opponents 84-22 and allowed only two offensive points, on a reversal in the semifinals. At that point, he was ahead by such a large margin that conceding those points made no difference. He defeated two returning state champions by major decision, Adrian DeJesus of DePaul in the semifinals (18-5) and Daniel Jones of Delbarton in the finals (10-2).
Knox stated, “It’s incredible and unreal to be a two-time state champion.” “I’m surpassing all the goals I set for myself when I was 7, 8 years old.”
Knox is the second two-time state champion for St. John Vianney, joining current Rutgers 125-pounder Dean Peterson, who won titles in 2019 and 2020.
Knox did as expected and won the competition. The fact that Knox was the clear favourite in a bracket with two other state champions, DeJesus and Jones, speaks volumes about his abilities.
Knox stated, “I think I’m pretty good, but I can occasionally surprise myself.” “I entered the semifinals anticipating a tough match, but I ended up dominating him. It stems from my gym routine and the effort I put into everything.”
Knox finished the season 39-0 and has a career record of 72-1. He entered high school with the intention of going undefeated for four years, but that goal was eliminated when he lost the Escape the Rock championship last year.
This defeat hurt, but he refocused and won the state championship at 113 pounds as a freshman. During the previous summer and fall, he lost in the Fargo finals to Marcus Blaze of Ohio and in the Super 32 final to Bo Bassett of Pennsylvania. Both are ranked among the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in America, just like Knox.
“I can thank Marcus Blaze and Bo Bassett a thousand times over because they made me better,” Knox said. “I sat down and evaluated what I could do better, then corrected my bad habits. Now that I am a completely different wrestler, I’m coming for everyone’s heads.”
This level of wrestling is certainly not as simple as Knox makes it appear. Due to Knox’s presence, wrestlers who are typically the favourite are no longer the favourite. This does not imply that he underestimates his opponents. In contrast, However, he is simultaneously battling his opponents and himself as he strives for the perfection of his craft.
Knox emphasised the significance of facing the best competition and learning from mistakes. “I am constantly chasing losses or small losses, such as in the round of 16, for instance. I knew that guy (Matawan’s Lawrence Liss) was good at the top position, but I still chose the bottom. I may have gotten away for a moment, but I escaped and got better. This is what I am currently pursuing.”
“I know I’ll never achieve perfection because nothing is ever perfect, but that’s what I strive for every single day, and I won’t give up.”
Knox was outstanding as a freshman and then flawless as a sophomore. He is halfway to becoming New Jersey’s fifth four-time state champion, joining the likes of Mike Grey of Delbarton, Andrew Campolattano of Bound Brook, Anthony Ashnault of South Plainfield, and Nick Suriano of Bergen Catholic. It won’t be easy, as it wasn’t for the four who came before Knox, but Knox is on the right track.
The Anthony Knox who left Boardwalk Hall as a freshman was outstanding. The version of him that departed on Saturday was elevated. What is in store for the future? His vision is clear to Knox.