District 22 Wrestling Preview
2016 NJSIAA District 22 Tournament
Friday Feb. 19 and Saturday Feb. 20 at Red Bank Regional
Prelims, 5:30 p.m.
Quarterfinals, 6 p.m.
Semifinals 10 a.m.
Consolations and finals, 2 p.m.
Teams: CBA, Keansburg, Keyport, Long Branch, Middletown North, Middletown South, Ocean, Raritan, Red Bank Catholic, Red Bank, Rumson-Fair Haven.
Defending champion: CBA
Returning champions (last year's weight, this year's weight): Richie Koehler, CBA (106, 120); Sebastian Rivera, CBA (113, 113); Jake Benner, Ocean (120, 132); Chris Koutzen, CBA (160, 152); Anthony Vetrano, Midd. North (182, 182); Chad Freshnock, Midd. North (220, 220); John Tomlinson, Long Branch (Hwt, Hwt).
Returning runners-up (last year's weight, this year's weight): Sean Deering, Midd. North (106, 113); Carl Vasti, CBA (120, 138); Dylan VanSickell, CBA (126, 132); T.J. Saldutti, Ocean (152, 170); Nick Bohal, Raritan (160, 160); Mike Shohet, Long Branch (170, 152); Jack LaCorte, CBA (182, 195); Sean Killeen, Midd. South (195, Hwt); William Oxley, CBA (220, Hwt); Brian Olesen, Ocean (Hwt, Hwt).
Returning third-place finishers (last year's weight, this year's weight): Alex Erven, Keyport (106, 106); Dave Tieto, Ocean (113, 120); Russell Benson, Raritan (120, 126); Chris Donnelly, Ocean (126, 138); Thomas Hinz, Red Bank (145, 152); Garrett Fitzgerald, CBA (152, 160); Lamont Reid, Long Branch (160, 160); Joey Jasio, Long Branch (220, 220).
Analysis and predictions
CBA junior Nick Schutzenhofer is the top seed and the big favorite to win his first district title. He enters the tournament with a 25-1 record with his only loss coming to Howell's standout freshman Darby Diedrich. That defeat came in sudden victory, and he avenged it in a big way by beating Diedrich in double overtime to clinch the Shore Conference Tournament title for CBA. Keyport'a Alex Erven, the No. 2 seed, is quietly one of just a handful of undefeated wrestlers in the Shore Conference. He'll have a tough semifinal bout against Raritan freshman Charles Barrale, who is battle-tested as a member of the Central Jersey Group II finalists. Middletown North's John Provenzano or Ocean's Adam Manzo could challenge for a top-three finish, but I think the top three seeds advance here.
Prediction - 1. Schutzenhofer, 2. Barrale, 3. Erven.
CBA senior Sebastian Rivera would have been the heavy favorite at 120, where he wrestled most of the season, but he's an even bigger slam dunk at 113. Rivera dropped to 113 just a couple matches before the team state tournament began and begins the individual postseason as a state championship contender. He's 21-1 on the season and ranked No. 3 in the nation at 113. His only loss is to Hanover Park super freshman Nick Raimo at 120 pounds. The battle for second and third should be good with Raritan sophomore Christian Sookdeo, Keyport senior Teddy Smith, Long Branch sophomore Chris Dean and Middletown North junior Sean Deering. It's a pretty deep weight, which means the loser of the Sookdeo-Smith quarterfinal won't even get a chance to wrestle for third.
Prediction - 1. Rivera, 2. Dean, 3. Smith.
State medalist Richie Koehler of CBA is the top seed and the favorite to win his second district title in as many years. He spent most of the season at 113 pounds but with teammate Sebastian Rivera dropping to 113 Koehler had to move up a weight. Ocean senior Dave Tieto is the No. 2 seed and Raritan sophomore A.J. Erven is the No. 3 seed, and I don't see anyone cracking that group. The winner of the Ariel Rosado-Carlos Irizarry quarterfinal bout faces Koehler in the semifinals, so it's basically a certainty that person will be wrestling for third. The loser of the bottom bracket semifinal, likely Erven or Tieto, will be favored there.
Prediction - 1. Koehler, 2. Tieto, 3. Erven.
Raritan sophomore Russell Benson had had a breakout season with a 26-2 record and is a returning medalist. He is the top seed and a safe bet to take home the district title. The bottom half of the bracket could be interesting with Red Bank Catholic junior Ethan Byrne as the No. 2 seed and Red Bank senior Adel Soliman as the No. 3 seed. CBA freshman Sam LaCorte has upset potential as the No. 6 seed.
Prediction - 1. Benson, 2. Byrne, 3. Benner.
The chance for a marquee finals matchup makes this one of the more intriguing weights in all of Region VI. Ocean sophomore Jake Benner has been outstanding and enters as the top seed with a record of 29-0. At the No. 2 seed is CBA senior Dylan VanSickell, who is 23-0 and had a dominant season for the SCT champion Colts. Benner was the 120-pound champion last season while VanSickell was the runner-up at 126 pounds. Not to be forgotten is Long Branch senior T.J. Conlon, who is 22-2 and has some big wins this season. Getting the No. 1 seed here was big since it means a far easier road to the final. Benner got that because of his district title last season. The likely Conlon-VanSickell semifinals should be great, and the championship bout could be the highlight of the entire tournament.
Prediction - 1. VanSickell, 2. Benner, 3. Conlon.
This is another weight that should be plenty of fun. Either of the top three seeds have a legitimate shot at winning the title, and there is some upset potential from the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds. Middletown North sophomore Stanley Wojdylak is the No. 1 seed with a 28-3 record, and holds a win in sudden victory over the No. 2 seed, CBA senior Carl Vasti (16-10). Raritan freshman Anthony Aquilano (20-5) could also bring home the championship. Ocean senior Chris Donnelly (14-18) is a returning medalist, but will be challenged by Rumson freshman Nick Addison (24-5) in the 4-5 matchups in the quarterfinals.
Prediction - 1. Wojdylak, 2. Vasti, 3. Aquilano.
Long Branch senior Danny Mullan is the top seed and a solid favorite to win the title. Just six wrestlers have winning records at this weight, so there son't be many upsets. Look for the top three seeds to advance with Ocean senior Jeff Andre as the No. 2 seed and CBA senior Ben Kuhn the No. 3 seed.
Prediction - 1. Mullan, 2. Kuhn, 3. Andre.
Another wide open weight where any of the top seeds have a good shot at finishing on top of the medal stand. Red Bank senior Thomas Hinz, the third-place finisher at 145 last season, is the No. 1 seed. Middletown North sophomore Nick Cofone is the No. 2 seed, Long Branch's Mike Shohet is the No. 3 seed and CBA's Chris Koutzen is the No. 4 seed. A solid wrestler will have their season end on Saturday afternoon. This is the first weight where the seeds could really get shaken up.
Prediction - 1. Cofone, 2. Hinz, 3. Shohet.
With Long Branch's Lamont Reid and CBA's Garrett Fitzgerald both dropping down from 170, this has become one of the deepest weights in the district. Raritan's Nick Bohal (25-2) is the No. 1 seed, Reid second, Middletown South's Louis Avena (23-9) third, and Middletown North's Brian Winz fourth. Fitzgerald, who didn't debut this season until Jan. 27, is the five seed. Ocean's Pat Tracey (12-4) is sixth. Winz is a headlock machine so a quarterfinal match with Fitzgerald should be very interesting. One of those two, plus the loser of the Avena-Tracey quarterfinal, while have their season come to an end on Friday night.
Prediction - 1. Bohal, 2. Reid, 3. Fitzgerald.
The top three seeds are strong favorites to advance through to the region tournament with Ocean senior T.J. Saldutti as the top seed, Middletown North junior Tom Anderson second and Middletown South senior Brendan Rumsby third. Keansburg freshman George Burdick has had a nice season at 24-8, but being in Saldutti's half of the bracket makes his road very tough, plus he has a difficult quarterfinal bout with Red Bank senior John Doherty.
Prediction - 1. Saldutti, 2. Anderson, 3. Rumsby.
Middletown North senior Anthony Vetrano is the No. 1 seed and a heavy favorite to bring home his second straight district title. Rumson junior Theo Addison has had a strong season at 25-2 and is the No. 2 seed. The 3-6 matchup between Long Branch sophomore Peter Wersinger and Raritan senior Joe Stabile could result in an upset, but Wersinger could also reach the final. I like the top three seeds to advance.
Prediction - 1. Vetrano, 2. Wersinger, 3. Addison.
CBA senior Jack LaCorte (24-2) is the top seed and the clear favorite here, and second seed Robert Hulse of Middletown South is a good bet to reach the final. The battle for third should be interesting with Ocean junior Clayton Oates (12-18) the No. 3 seed, Rumson senior Jake Shea (16-9) the No. 4 seed and Raritan junior Ryan Dickens the No. 5 seed. Oates should reach the semifinals and be in the third-place bout. Dickens and Shea meet in the quarterfinals, so one will be eliminated on Friday night. I like the winner of that bout, who will have to face LaCorte in the semifinals, to wrestle back and secure the final region qualifying spot.
Prediction - 1. LaCorte, 2. Hulse, 3. Dickens.
Reigning Region VI champion Chad Freshnock of Middletown North is the top seed and the favorite to take home his second district title, and No. 2 seed Joey Jasio of Long Branch should have no trouble reaching the final. The battle for third will be between Middletown South sophomore Adam Markmann (20-11), Keansburg senior Danny Bauman (24-1) and Raritan sophomore Ethan Wolf (16-12). Bauman and Wolf face each other in the quarterfinals, so one will be eliminated there.
Prediction - 1. Freshnock, 2. Jasio, 3. Bauman.
CBA senior Willliam Oxley could have went either 220 or heavyweight for the individual tournament, and since he is the No. 1 seed at heavyweight it's easy to see why that was his choice. Oxley's addition to the weight class makes four returning medalists at the weight, plus Raritan senior Aaron Daniels (20-8) as the No. 5 seed. Oxley is the favorite, but far from a slam dunk. As the saying goes, anything can happen at heavyweight. Daniels gets Middletown South senior Sean Killeen in the quarterfinals and the winner faces Oxley. In the bottom half of the bracket is Ocean senior Brian Olesen as the No. 2 seed and Long Branch senior John Tomlinson, the defending champion, as the No. 3 seed. Those two met in last season's district final with Tomlinson winning by fall. Keansburg freshman Paul Liseno is as sleeper as the No. 7 seed.
Prediction - 1. Tomlinson, 2. Oxley, 3. Olesen.
This should be the best race for a team championship in any of the Shore Conference's four districts. CBA is the defending champion and has major firepower with Schutzenhofer, Rivera, Koehler, VanSickell, Vasti, LaCorte and Oxley, but Raritan, Middletown North, Long Branch and Ocean can certainly crash the party by securing third-place finishes.
Top three prediction - 1. CBA, 2. Middletown North, 3. Long Branch.
Wrestling editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.