On his way to winning a AAAAA state championship, the 113-pounder went a perfect 59-0 on the year, pinned 37 opponents, tallied 99 takedowns and inflicted a lot of pain along the way.
“He isn’t dirty but man is he nasty,” said Cambridge wrestling coach Don St. James. “He is very strong for his weight and really likes to make his opponents hurt out there, I think he did that in every match this year.
“He has a mean cross-face that bloodies a lot of noses and once he grabs a kid and makes him hurt; they just want to turnover [and be pinned].”
Salemi, who placed fourth in the state last year as a 106 pound freshman at Milton, won area and sectional championships in the last month before winning a state title in Macon Feb. 16 — becoming not only the first state champion for the Bears’ wrestling program, but bringing the first title home to Cambridge High School in their first year as a school.
“This is the tradition we are looking to establish at Cambridge, not only in wrestling but every sport,” said St. James.
“Everyone’s goal here is to win a state championship and J.R. set that bar for everyone else at Cambridge to reach out and grab.”