Joe Abill Seeks State Wrestling Title


photo credit: Steven Cohen

Joe Abill has unfinished business to attend to when he competes in the 2023 NJSIAA State Wrestling Championships, beginning Thursday, March 2 at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.

The Clifton High School
senior finished in the top five at the state finals twice before, placing fourth in 2021, and fifth a year later. Abill is now poised to become the first Mustang wrestler to mount the podium since Bill Lahanas took home gold in 1988.

Also making the trip to A.C. is Nick Doktor, a 190-pounder who played a big part last month in helping Clifton capture its first Passaic County wrestling championship in 37 years.

Abill is enjoying the kind of season every wrestler dreams of having. He is currently ranked No. 1 in the state at 215 pounds, and No. 20 in the nation. He is one of the state’s eight remaining unbeaten wrestlers heading into the state championships.

“Joe is the complete package,” head coach Dan Galetta said of his battle-tested wrestler. “He has strength, athleticism, and technical abilities.”

Abill’s record improved to 35-0 with 22 pins after winning a Region 2 championship on February 25. A month earlier at the Passaic County Tournament at West Milford High School, he won his 100th-career match en route to nabbing a second straight county title.

Many of the matches he wins by pinfall are decided in less than one minute. “I’m trying to pin everyone I wrestle. That’s the goal - to dominate my opponent,” he said.

Athletes learn from other athletes, which explains why he enjoys training with Jimmy Mullen of St. Joseph Regional High School, the country’s No. 1 heavyweight. “I’ve been training with Jimmy for about two years now,” Abill said. “I decided to go to the club that he trains at because I want to train with the best people in the state.”

Family plays a crucial role in the making of elite athletes. The Abill household is no exception. “My brother Jacob has had the greatest impact on me when it comes to athletics, and my greatest supporter is my father, Steven."

Though Abill loves wrestling, football remains his greatest passion. “Wrestling is a very cool sport but there’s no better feeling than having a crowd going crazy because you made a huge play in a big football game.”

“Joe is the ultimate team player,” football head coach Ralph Cinque said. “He will do whatever it takes to put his team in the best position to win.” Cinque credits the “locker room leader” with leaving the CHS football program better than he found it.

The honors Abill received for his performance during the 2022-2023 campaign include first team All-County, first team All-North Jersey, Super Football Conference’s Young Man of the Year Award, and Mini Max Award. In addition, he was ranked one of New Jersey’s top 100 football players.

Abill will continue his academic and athletic career at Marist College, where he will play on their Division I football team.

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