Lasting Legacy: Hudson Skove becomes Rumson-Fair Haven’s first wrestling state champion
ATLANTIC CITY -- The mid-to-late 1970 was when Shore Conference wrestling really began to take off, and during that time period a family from Monmouth County helped put the Shore on the wrestling map. Their last name became synonymous with championships and excellence.
Long Branch's Luke Skove won his first state title in 1979, then added two more in 1980 and 1981. Jude Skove joined his brother on top of the podium in 1980 and Andrew Skove secured a state championship in 1983. Jude was second in the state in 1981 and brothers Thomas (1984) and Matt (1978) were both state third-place finishers.
On Saturday at Boardwalk Hall, 40 years after the last of the Skove brothers left their mark on New Jersey wrestling, the latest family prodigy stood atop the medal stand as a state champion.
Rumson-Fair Haven junior Hudson Skove made history in the 215-pound NJSIAA state final when he defeated Southern's Riley O'Boyle, 3-2 in ultimate tiebreaker, to become the first wrestling state champion in RFH history. After falling one victory short of a state medal in each of his first two seasons, Skove bulldozed his way to the very top to add to his family's legacy and fulfill his dream of winning a state title.
"It means a lot," Skove said. "Obviously it's really cool to be the first but on the other hand, I know that with the success and accolades there's a small element of luck and opportunity built in. I'm really glad I'm the first but I don't want to discredit the guys that came before me. There's been some incredible wrestlers."
"It took a while (for him to react) after I got off the mat. I got into the corner and screamed and then it kind of sunk in."
Humble, respectful, and even-keeled, Skove had one of the most low-key state title celebrations you'll see. That's just how he's wired. His composure is exceptional, and it showed in the overtime periods of the biggest match of his career.
Skove and O'Boyle have been frequent workout partners at Triumph Wrestling Club and that familiarity led to a deliberate pace. After a scoreless first period, the button flip went Skove's way, he chose bottom, and escaped in 10 seconds to take a 1-0 lead. The bout would remain that way with little action until Boyle chose bottom and escaped early in the third period to tie the bout 1-1. The state final then went to sudden victory and 13 seconds in O'Boyle was hit for a stalling warning.
"I knew that was big," Skove said. "Honestly, at the moment I was saying, damn, I wish I got the go-behind and finished it right there, but I knew in my head that any stalling call in a match like that is going to be crucial."
There was no scoring in the one-minute sudden victory period and the match headed to rideouts. In the first tiebreaker, O'Boyle used a Granby roll to escape Skove's clutches and take a 2-1 lead. During Skove's turn on bottom in the second 30-second tiebreaker period he got to his feet multiple times, and since O'Boyle already had a stalling warning he had to let Skove go or risk losing the match on a stalling call and then an escape. Skove's release tied the bout at two and sent the championship into the ultimate tiebreaker. Since Skove scored first it was his choice in UTB and he was able to escape with 15 seconds left to clinch the 215-pound state title.
"I've wrestled Riley at Triumph a lot before so I'm pretty used to wrestling him," Skove said. "He's gotten tougher and tougher over the years and he's a great competitor. I just completely blocked out the fact that it was states and just treated it like it was just another live match against him."
"He knows what I do and he has a fantastic coach (Dan Roy) who just won state coach of the year. He knew what I was trying to do so I had an idea the match might go like that. I thought in overtime I would be in good shape because I know I have good conditioning. I thought I would be able to ride him but he did surprise me with that nice Granby."
Luke, Jude, Andrew, and now, Hudson. The Skove Family has six NJ state championships in its collection. Growing up as a Skove meant hearing countless stories about the wars his father and uncles had in the family basement, sharpening their skills to unleash on the rest of New Jersey.
"I remember when I was younger hearing all the stories, just thinking it was so cool what they accomplished," Skove said. "It's something that a younger me really aspired to be and dreamed about doing. Nowadays I'm more focused on my own personal journey even though it goes without saying that I have a ton of respect for what my dad and uncles were able to do."
Skove finished the season with a 33-1 record and is now 78-9 for his career. He secured his second district and region titles before climbing to the top of the mountain in Atlantic City. And with one more year left, he can raise the bar even higher for the Rumson wrestling program.
"I'm only a junior, so hopefully I'm able to come back and make some noise next year."