ATLANTIC CITY — The 166-mile trip from Wantage to Atlantic City was a business trip for High Point’s Brian Soldano.


The business he had a singular focus on was written inside his head gear — “state champion.” It was there the last two weeks so Soldano always had a reminder of what his ultimate goal was.


However, if there ever was a kid who didn’t need a reminder of that it’s the young sophomore from High Point. Plenty of the top wrestlers in Atlantic City like to play to the crowd, talk a big game and go through their own histrionics. That’s not Soldano’s way.


“My dad always told me, ‘Act like you’ve been there, don’t be a showboater and don’t be cocky over anything,’”Soldano said. “Anybody can win on any given day. It’s a business trip.”


Unassuming and polite as they come, Soldano just goes out and gets the job done. He wins and always makes it look easy, oftentimes barely looking like he has to break a sweat. Thus, it was fitting that is exactly the way things went down for Soldano in his 160-pound final match against Dante Stefanelli of Delbarton.


Unfazed by the spectacle of being in his first state final as only a sophomore, Soldano dominated Stefanelli with a 9-0 major decision to become High Point’s 11th state champion.


“It’s indescribable how I feel right now,” Soldano said. “I’ve trained all year for this. The last two weeks I wrote in my head gear what I’m going to be. I’m going to be a state champ. Every single day, I see that and I always repeat it to myself. This year was my year.”


His reaction was typical Soldano. It was just a point to the High Point faithful in the crowd before getting his hand raised and sharing high-fives with his coaches. There was no headgear spike, dramatic fist pump, or slamming his hands on the mat. After all, this was just business for Soldano.


The most emotional he got was when he hugged his parents and then off the mat with his teammates.


“Ever since I was little my dad would watch me with all the high school kids who would take me into the room,” Soldano said. “I know right now he’s almost in tears, and I’m almost in tears about how happy we are to be state champs.”


He opened up the first period by getting in deep for a double-legged takedown and took that lead into the next period. An escape and another takedown gave Soldano a 5-0 lead. From there, Soldano was able to turn Stefanelli like he has so many opponents this season. The result was two back points and a 7-0 lead.


“He was reaching real heavy,” Soldano said. “I was watching him warm up too. He was heavy on his front feet so every time he reached I would see an opening. I just went for it. We always practice seeing your openings and attacking them.”


One more takedown for good measure in the third period gave Soldano a major decision. It was the second time Soldano has beaten Stefanelli recently, as the two wrestled against each other in an offseason match.


Prior to reaching the finals, Soldano had recorded two pins, a technical fall and a 4-1 decision over Matt Benedetti of Manalapan in the semifinals. He only allowed three points the entire tournament and never allowed a takedown. Soldano’s year was about as dominant as it gets. He went undefeated against New Jersey opponents and pinned opponents in 82% of his matches prior to reaching the state tournament.


The scary thing for the rest of the state is this seems like just the beginning for Soldano. He has a chance to become a three-time state champion and one of the best wrestlers in Sussex County history. It certainly seems like the success won’t go through his head.


“I just got to wrestle two more times for it, and hopefully I can be one of those guys,” Soldano said.


In addition to Soldano, the area saw seven other wrestlers earn medals on Saturday with Cooper Stewart of Sparta finishing fifth at 113, Austin Jack of Jefferson placing eighth at 132, Kaya Sement (145) and Shane Percelay (120) earning third-place medals for Pope John along with Eddie Ventresca coming in fifth at 126, and Josh Gervey (132) and Billy Talmadge (138) placing fifth and eighth, respectively, for High Point.