Given the talent in the Shore Conference on a yearly basis, the team that finishes No. 1 has unquestionably earned that distinction. Such is the case with Brick Memorial in 2015.

The Mustangs ran the gauntlet in the Shore with wins over all six of the teams ranked in the top 10, which they wrestled on their way to one of the best seasons in program history. They ended a one-year hiatus when the Shore did not have either a team or individual state champion by claiming the inaugural NJSIAA Group V title and having senior Alec Donovan win the 145-pound state championship.

Brick Memorial defeated Hunterdon Central 53-15 to win the 2015 NJSIAA Group V championship. (Photo by Bob Badders).

The Mustangs finished ranked No. 2 in the state and debuted in the InterMat Fab 50 national rankings after a tremendous postseason where they had four wrestlers reach the state finals.

The conference as a whole was strong again as six teams finished ranked among the top 25 in the New Jersey Wrestling Coaches Association final poll. Donovan wasn’t the only champion, as Keansburg senior Tyree Sutton made history as the first Titans wrestler to win a state championship in bringing home the 195-pound crown.

Region VI also had 20 total state medalists, which was second among all regions. Ten of those place-winners finished in the top three.

 

Final Shore Sports Network Top 10

 

1. Brick Memorial (21-1).

The Mustangs turned in one of their best seasons in program history in finishing 21-1 and winning the inaugural NJSIAA Group V title. They won the Class A South title with a perfect 7-0 record that included wins over state-ranked Jackson Memorial, Toms River South, Southern and Brick. They captured their conference-best 15th Shore Conference Tournament title with a 33-24 victory over Jackson Memorial and won the South Jersey Group V title by defeating Howell 28-25. They dominated the Group Championships in Trenton by blowing out North Bergen in the semifinals, 40-15, and Hunterdon Central in the championship match, 53-15. The Mustangs then won their 29th district team title by claiming the District 23 championship by nearly 100 points over second-place Brick. They also had six district champs and advanced 13 of 14 wrestlers to the Region VI Tournament. Seniors Alec Donovan and Cliff Ruggiero and sophomore Nick Rivera won region titles while sophomore Gianni Ghione placed second. Brick Memorial had an incredible state tournament in seeing all four qualifiers reach the state finals. Donovan won the 145-pound title with a 1-0 decision over Bound Brook’s Stephan Glasgow to become the seventh state champ in program history.

 

2. Jackson Memorial (19-5).

The Jaguars captured the Central Jersey Group IV title and advanced to the Group IV final before falling to Phillipsburg in the championship match. Along the way the Jags finished tied for second in Class A South and reached the Shore Conference Tournament final. They captured the District 21 team title, their 25th district title in program history, with four champions and eight total wrestlers advancing to the Region VI Tournament. Senior heavyweight Brody Graham finished second in the region tournament and senior Connor Bohringer was third at 182 pounds. Graham was one of the top heavyweights in New Jersey and finished third in the state.

 

3. Howell (26-2).

The Rebels won their 10th straight Class A North division title while reaching the South Jersey Group V final. They also advanced to the semifinals of the Shore Conference Tournament and finished second in the District 21 Tournament. They defeated Group IV champion Phillipsburg early in the regular season and were only defeated by Jackson Memorial and Brick Memorial. Freshman Kyle Slendorn (106) and junior Anthony Gagliano (132) won district titles and junior Kris Lindemann (138) and sophomore Eric Keosseian (195) joined them in qualifying for the state tournament.

 

4. Toms River South (17-5).

The Indians reached the South Jersey Group IV final, advanced to the semifinals of the Shore Conference Tournament, finished second in the District 24 Tournament and tied for third place in the rugged Class A South division. Toms River South had six district champions crowned with Nick Gallichio at 113, Owen McClave at 120, Cole Corrigan at 126, Antrez Clagon at 160, Joe Salvato at 182 and Quentin DeCarlo at 195 taking home gold. McClave captured his second Region VI title while Corrigan and Salvato finished second and Clagon placed third. McClave picked up his first state medal by taking fifth while Salvato got on the podium in placing eighth. Clagon had a key victory over Matt Wilhelm when the Indians defeated Southern 24-23 during the regular season.

 

5. Southern (14-6).

The Rams captured the District 24 team title for the 15th time and fifth consecutive season while reaching the semifinals of the South Jersey Group V tournament and tying for third in Class A South. Senior Matt Wilhelm led the way by going 35-3, winning his second Region VI title and placing third in the state tournament. Wilhelm along with senior James Knoeller and juniors Pat Mooney and Peyton Blauvelt won district titles, while 10 Rams wrestlers advanced to the Region VI Tournament. Knoeller and senior Chris Crane finished third in the region tournament to join Wilhelm at the state tournament in Atlantic City. Crane reached the third round of wrestlebacks before falling to eventual third-place finisher Zack Firestone of Clearview.

 

6. CBA (19-4).

The Colts captured the District 22 team title for the second season in a row and third time in program history, and also reached the South Jersey Non-Public A final and finished second in Class A North. Rich Koehler (106), Sebastian Rivera (113) and Chris Koutzen (160) each captured district titles to lead a group of eight CBA wrestlers that advanced to the Region VI Tournament. Koehler and Rivera won region titles while junior William Oxley finished second at 220 and junior Dylan VanSickell placed third at 126. Koehler and Rivera each reached the semifinals of the state tournament before finishing sixth and fifth, respectively.

 

7. Brick (18-5).

Behind a tremendous senior class, the Dragons reached the Central Jersey Group IV final, finished second in the District 23 Tournament and tied for second in Class A South. Seniors Nick Pollara (152), Will Scott (160), Dean Sherry (182) and Ray Fattaruso (220) won district titles while senior Kyle Wojtaszek (170) and sophomores Dean Helstowski (195) and Jack McLafferty (138) finished second. Sherry won his second region title while Scott finished second and Wojtaszek third. All three made their way to the podium in Atlantic City with Wojtaszek and Sherry placing third and Scott finishing sixth.

 

8. Long Branch (20-5).

The Green Wave won the Class B North title, their third in a row and 20th overall, while finishing second in the District 22 Tournament and advancing to the Central Jersey Group III semifinals. Senior Andy Hernandez and junior John Tomlinson won district titles at 126 and heavyweight, respectively, and six other Long Branch wrestlers qualified for the Region VI Tournament. Senior Jason Hernandez battled back to place third at 113 pounds as the only Green Wave grappler to reach the state tournament.

 

9. Wall (16-4).

The Crimson Knights advanced to the South Jersey Group III final, finished second in Class B North and took third in the District 23 Tournament behind Brick and Brick Memorial. Senior Denzel Tovar (120), junior Brett Donner (170) and sophomore Matt McKenzie (195) each won district titles as eight Wall wrestlers reached the Region VI Tournament. Donner won his second straight region title while Tovar and McKenzie each finished second. McKenzie finished sixth in the state while Donner, who was third in state as a sophomore, lost in the quarterfinals and had to injury default in the wrestlebacks.

 

10. Middletown North (18-6) 

The Lions reached the semifinals of the North Jersey Section 2, Group IV tournament and finished third in Class A North. Senior Paul Capaldo (145) and juniors Anthony Vetrano (182) and Chad Freshnock (220) won District 22 titles for the first time while sophomore Sean Deering (106) and senior Fred Svenson (170) also advanced to the Region VI Tournament. Freshnock won the region title, the first for Middletown North since 2004, while Capaldo took third. Each won a bout at the state tournament in Atlantic City.