Army Strong Wrestling Team of the Week: St. John Vianney
New for this winter season, the United States Army and Shore Sports Network will be selecting a wrestling Team of the Week based on its performance over the past weekend.
The recipient of the Army Strong Team of the Week for the week of Jan. 15 to Jan. 21 is St. John Vianney, which defeated Raritan, 31-29, on Wednesday, Jan. 17, for one the biggest wins in program history. Shore Sports Network and Staff Sergeant Warren from the U.S. Army were at practice Tuesday to present the Lancers and head coach Denny D'Andrea with a special banner to commemorate their accomplishments.
The Lancers went 3-1 during the week with their only defeat coming at the hands of Pope John, which is currently ranked No. 4 in the NJWWA Top 20. The win over Raritan on the road was huge as it put the Rockets in line to secure their first division title in program history and unseat Raritan, which had won seven straight Class A Central titles and 12 of 13 division championships since 2005. Junior Paul Liseno had a big win at heavyweight when he handed Ethan Wolf his first loss of the season, 6-4. Raritan bumped up Wolf from his normal spot at 220 pounds with the hopes of getting a win, but Liseno spoiled the plan to put the Lancers in the driver's seat. Freshman Dean Peterson then came through with a clutch pin at 113 pounds and St. John Vianney was on its way from there.
The Lancers also posted wins over Don Bosco Prep (37-30) and Rumson-Fair Haven (60-15) during the week. St. John Vianney has continued to wrestle well since then, including officially clinching the outright Class A Central division title for the first time in program history. At the Shore Conference Tournament, the Lancers won the team title with four champions, one runner-up and two third-place finishers to top the team standings by 14 points over top-ranked Howell. Peterson (106), seniors Nick Caracappa (170) and Steven Giannios (220) and Liseno (HWT) each won SCT titles in the inaugural individual tournament while sophomore Tyler Pepe (120) was second and seniors Charlie Peterson (138) and Josiah Walker (195) took third.
St. John Vianney is in the midst of an unprecedented season and still has more to accomplish. The Lancers are the No. 3 seed for the NJSIAA Non-Public South A sectional tournament and will be trying to capture their third sectional title and first since winning back-to-back South Jersey Parochial B titles in 1995 and 1996.
On the individual front, the Lancers have several wrestlers who should be competing deep into the postseason. Peterson is currently 25-0 and is a contender to become St. John Vianney's first-ever state champion. Pepe is 22-4, Charlie Peterson is 20-6, Carcappa is 21-3, Giannios is 23-3 and Liseno is 20-3. Walker has an 11-5 record, but like Caracappa, Giannios and Pepe is a returning state qualifier.
The Lancers open their state tournament at home versus Notre Dame on Monday, Feb. 5.