Preseason Wrestling Top 10, 12/19/15
To be ranked among the top 10 in the Shore Conference for wrestling is a prestigious honor and a great accomplishment, given the power and pedigree of arguably New Jersey's best collection of grappling schools.
The Shore Conference usually has several teams ranked in the state top 20 and wrestling deep into the team state tournament. That was the case last season when Brick Memorial claimed the NJSIAA Group V title and finished No. 2 in New Jersey, Jackson Memorial won the Central Jersey Group IV sectional title and reached the Group IV final and Brick (CJ-IV), Raritan (CJ-II), Point Beach (CJ-I), Howell (SJ-V), Toms River South (SJ-IV), Wall (SJ-III) and CBA (SJ, Non-Public A) reached sectional finals.
Those same teams plus a few more are all in play to win multiple titles and climb the state rankings. There isn't an overwhelming team that is expected to plow through the field, and with so many of the top teams facing each other in tournaments and duals, it's going to be a battle to the end.
The Rebels bring back eight starters, including six district medalists and state qualifiers Kris Lindemann, Kyle Slendorn, Anthony Gagliano and Eric Keosseian, from a team that finished 26-2 and reached the South Jersey Group V final.
Eight starters return, including 20-bout winners Pat Mooney and Peyton Blauvelt, and with a promising freshman class the Rams will once again be in the hunt for division, conference, sectional, group and district titles.
With 20-bout winners Mike Spino, Matt McGowan and Tim Hamann leading the way, the defending Central Jersey Group IV champion Jaguars will be a formidable squad and a championship contender.
The 2015 Group V champs saw nearly 200 wins leave via graduation, but with state finalists Gianni Ghione and Nick Rivera back, plus a hearty stable of underclassmen, the Mustang should be able to reload and make another championship run.
State medalists Sebastian Rivera and Rich Koehler, plus state qualifiers Dylan VanSickell and William Oxley lead a tough and balanced lineup that has the Colts looking to take the program to new heights.
Nationally-ranked Rutgers recruit Brett Donner and state medalist Matt McKenzie give the Crimson Knights firepower, and with talent up and down the lineup the Crimson Knights have as much potential as any team in the Shore.
7. Long Branch
A tough and deep squad, Long Branch is looking to get back to a sectional final behind a standout senior class that includes Joey Jasio, Mike Shohet, Lamont Reid and John Tomlinson.
The Spartans return nearly their entire roster as they aim to assume their normal spot among the Shore Conference's elite. Seniors T.J. Saldutti, Dave Tieto and Brian Olesen, along with talented sophomore Jake Benner lead the way.
A team that will be battle tested come championship time, Raritan enters the season with plenty of promise and an imposing group of lowerweights led by standout sophomores Russell Benson, Christian Sookdeo and A.J. Erven.
10. Middletown North
Region champion Chad Freshnock headlines a group that features 10 returning starters and five 20-bout winners that will have the Lions competing with the top teams in the Shore.
Teams to watch:
Brick, Colts Neck, Lacey, Point Boro, Point Beach, St. John Vianney, Shore, Toms River South.