Shore Sports Network is proud to unveil its 2018 All-Shore teams and season-ending award winners featuring the top performers from the 2017-2018 Shore Conference wrestling season.

Scroll down for bios, pictures and video clips of the first-team All-Shore selections and click the link for write-ups on the second- and third-team selections.

 

FIRST TEAM

106 – Dean Peterson, Fr., St. John Vianney

Photo by Ray Richardson.

Peterson burst onto the scene and ended the year as one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the Shore Conference to help St. John Vianney to a historic season. Peterson went 36-2 and finished second at the NJSIAA Championships in Atlantic City and becoming St. John Vianney’s first-ever state finalist and highest state place-winner. His only other defeat came in overtime in the Region 5 final. Along the way, Peterson won a Shore Conference Tournament title and a District 19 championship along with first-place finishes at the Mustang Classic and Sam Cali Invitational. Peterson’s presence was a major reason why St. John Vianney was able to win its first division and district team titles and win the SCT team title.

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113 – Jerry Lleshi, Sr., Howell

Photo by Ray Richardson.

Among the Shore Conference’s seven state qualifiers at 113 pounds, Lleshi probably wasn’t picked by many to come home with a state medal. Instead, Lleshi put together the best tournament of his life to place eighth in the state as the Shore’s only all-state finisher at 113. Lleshi bounced between 113 and 120 pounds during the regular season but began to settle in at 113 late in the season. He played a key role in helping Howell win the NJSIAA Group V title for the second season in a row, coming through with crucial bonus points in a 29-20 win over Hunterdon Central in the Central Jersey Group V final. In the individual postseason, Lleshi won the District 22 title for his first career district medal. He then finished third at the Region 6 Tournament, losing only to eventual champion Nico Messina of Freehold and defeating Point Boro’s Ben Sabo in the consolation final. Despite having never advanced out of the district tournaments, Lleshi went on to finish eighth in the state. He was defeated by eventual state champion Anthony Clark of Delbarton in the pre-quarterfinals, but then won three straight bouts to clinch a state medal, including a 5-1 win over Middletown North’s Tyler Klinsky in the third round of wrestlebacks.

 

120 – Joey King, Sr., Colts Neck

Photo by Ray Richardson.

One of the lasting memories of the state tournament will be King jumping into the arms of head coach Brett Jankos after finally vanquishing his longtime nemesis – CBA’s Richie Koehler – with a 6-1 overtime victory to finish fifth in New Jersey. King had a great tournament with his only losses coming to eventual state champion Robert Howard of Bergen Catholic and Seneca’s Joe Manchio, a former state champion. King won his second District 21 title and finished second in the Region 6 Tournament. He reached the semifinals of Shore Conference Tournament but an illness forced him to medically forfeit down to fourth place. He also claimed a Mustang Classic title. King finished the season with a 39-5 record and a program-record 143 career victories.

 

126 – Darby Diedrich, Jr., Howell­

Despite falling in the third round of wrestlebacks at the state tournament, Diedrich was far and away the top 126-pounder in the Shore Conference this season. He placed first at the Shore Conference Tournament, won the District 22 title for this third district championship and claimed the Region 6 title for the second season in a row. He finished the season with a 41-3 record to help Howell win the NJSIAA Group V state championship. He will enter next season with 118 career victories.

 

132 – Kyle Slendorn, Sr., Howell

Photo by Ray Richardson.

Slendorn finished second in the state for the second straight season to cap one of the greatest careers in Howell history. He became the Rebels’ second four-time district champion by winning District 22, finished second at Region 6 and reached the state final to become Howell’s first two-time state finalist. He finished the season with a 42-2 record and his 158 career victories are tied with Raritan’s Dan Seidenberg for the most in Shore Conference history. He was a major reason why the Rebels were able to go 32-0 and win the NJSIAA Group V state title.

 

138 – Jake Benner, Sr., Ocean

Photo by Ray Richardson.

Benner’s tremendous career ended with a second-place finish at the state tournament, as the defending champion got back to the final before falling to the nation’s No. 1 wrestler, Kingsway’s Quinn Kinner. Benner became Ocean’s first four-time district champion when he claimed the District 24 championship. He also won his second straight Region 6 title and took the title at the Shore Conference Tournament. He finished the season with a 39-3 record and his 146 career wins are the most in program history. Benner will continue his career at Rutgers University.

 

145 – Luke Gauthier, Sr., Lacey

Photo by Ray Richardson.

 Gauthier broke through in his senior season with SCT, district and region titles while ultimately finishing fourth in the state. Gauthier pinned Wall’s Jack Kelly to win the Shore Conference Tournament and then won his first postseason titles by taking the District 27 and Region 7 championships. He won bonus points in all three of his region bouts to be selected Outstanding Wrestler. Gauthier reached the semifinals of the state tournament by pinning Hackettstown’s Alex Carida in the quarterfinals. He lost to Delsea’s Nick Bennett in controversial fashion but rebounded with a pin of Bergen Catholic’s Wade Unger to advance to the consolation final. Gauthier finished the season with a 38-3 record and his 124 career victories are second all-time for Lacey. He will continue his career at the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

 

152 – Cole Corrigan, Sr., Toms River South

Photo by Ray Richardson.

The Shore Sports Network Wrestler of the Year, Corrigan defeated Phillipsburg’s Brian Meyer by 5-4 decision to win the 152-pound New Jersey state championship and become Toms River South’s eighth state champion. He won by 9-1 major decision over Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s Jack Cannon and pinned DePaul’s Connor O’Neil to reach the quarterfinals. He then edged Paulsboro’s George Worthy, 3-2, in the quarterfinals and shut out Ewing’s Lavinsky Collins, 3-0, to reach the state final. Corrigan was unblemished during his senior season with a 40-0 record, winning the District 28 title to become the Indians’ third four-time district champion and taking his second straight Region 7 title. Corrigan also won the Shore Conference Tournament. His 141 career victories are third all-time in program history. He will continue his career at Columbia University.

 

160 – Rob Kanniard, Jr., Wall

Photo by Ray Richardson.

Kanniard’s amazing junior season had everything but a state championship, as he fell to the nation’s No. 1 160-pounder and three-time state champion, Shane Griffith of Bergen Catholic, 6-1, in the state final. Kanniard was a dominant force throughout the season with a Shore Conference single-season record 45 wins, which included 19 falls, 13 technical falls and seven major decisions. He won his third District 23 championship and second Region 6 title, and also captured the title at the Shore Conference Tournament and won the Mustang Classic. Kanniard recently verbally committed to Rutgers University and will enter his senior season with 119 career victories.

 

 

170 – Nick Caracappa, Sr., St. John Vianney

Photo by Ray Richardson.

A two-time, first-team All-Shore selection, Caracappa concluded his career with a third-place finish at the state tournament while helping St. John Vianney to a banner season. Caracappa won round four with Rumson’s Nick Addison by a 5-3 decision in the consolation final and also defeated Howell’s Shane Reitsma, 4-3, in the wrestleback semifinals to cement his first-team All-Shore spot. Caracappa also won a Shore Conference Tournament title and a Region 5 title with wins over Addison and finished the season with a 35-6 record. He finished third in the District 19 Tournament and also finished first at the Mustang Classic and Sam Cali Invitational. His performances this season helped the Lancers win division and district titles for the first time in program history as well as winning the SCT team title. Caracappa concluded his career with 113 victories (fourth all-time at SJV), a district title, two region titles and one state medal. He will continue his career at Johnson and Wales University.

 

182 – Nicko Cofone, Sr., Middletown North

Middletown North's Nicko Cofone and Howell's Christian Murphy. (Photo by Steve Meyer/Townsquare Media, NJ).

From 9-19 as a freshman to fourth in the state as a senior, Cofone capped his career with a great final season for the Lions. He took care of unfinished business in the state tournament by clinching a state medal and then defeating nemesis Santino Morina of Paulsboro to reach the consolation final. Cofone finished the season with a 45-4 record, setting the Shore Conference record for wins in a season (along with Wall’s Rob Kanniard), while winning district, region and conference titles. Cofone claimed the Shore Conference Tournament title, won his second District 17 championship and took the Region 5 title for the first time. He was also second at two prestigious regular-season tournaments – the Sam Cali Invitational and the Mustang Classic. Cofone’s 111 career wins are seventh all-time for Middletown North.

 

195 – Pete Wersinger, Sr., Long Branch

Photo by Ray Richardson.

Wersinger was a conference, district and region champion who went on to finish eighth in the state tournament. He finished the season 39-6, claimed the Shore Conference Tournament title, won his first District 23 championship and his first Region 6 title. His 2-1 win in double overtime over Don Bosco Prep’s Luke Chakonis clinched a state medal. He defeated Brick Memorial’s Sam Williams, 3-1 in overtime, to take the region championship. He and Kevin Cerruti are Long Branch’s first state place-winners since 2010. His performances helped Long Branch win the Class B North division title, the Central Jersey Group IV sectional title and the District 23 team title. Wersinger’s 106 career victories are 10th all-time for the Green Wave.

 

220 – Steven Giannios, Sr., St. John Vianney

Photo by Ray Richardson.

Giannios capped his career by finishing fourth in the state as part of a program-record three state place-winners for the Lancers. He finished the season 35-6 and won both the Shore Conference Tournament and District 19 Tournament titles. He finished second at the Region 5 Tournament to Raritan’s Ethan Wolf, but got revenge in the state tournament with a 7-3 win in the pre-quarterfinals. Giannios also finished first at the Mustang Classic. He finished his career fifth all-time in wins at SJV with 111.

 

HWT – Kevin Cerruti, Jr., Long Branch

Photo by Ray Richardson.

Cerruti emerged from a crowded Shore Conference heavyweight field as the conference’s only state medalist, finishing seventh in the state. Along the way he won his first Region 6 title, finished second in District 23 and was the runner-up at the Shore Conference Tournament. A knee injury forced him to injury default in the SCT final but fortunately, the injury was not serious enough to keep him out long. He was second to Asbury Park’s Jaylen Paige at districts but got Paige back with a 3-2 overtime win in the region final. His performances helped Long Branch win the Class B North division title, the Central Jersey Group IV sectional title and the District 23 team title Cerruti the season with a 39-6 record and will enter his senior season with 59 career wins.

 

Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.

 

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