Russ Witt has resigned as the head wrestling coach at Christian Brothers Academy after seven years to spend more time with his family, he told Shore Sports Network.

"I have two small boys and I got to the point where I felt like I could try to be a good dad or a good coach, but I could not be both," Witt said. "I felt that was unfair to both of my families, my wife and children and my CBA family, to continue as head coach."

"My son asked one day after the season how come I was home and shouldn't I be at wrestling, and that kind of hit me hard and put into perspective how much time I was away," Witt said. "Every parent I talk to always says how fast the time flies by and to cherish every moment. I felt like I was missing too many of these important moments and I had to make the difficult decision to step down."

Witt took over as CBA’s head coach for the 2011-2012 season and led the Colts to unprecedented success during his tenure. In 2012 CBA captured its second NJSIAA sectional title and first since 2002 when the Colts defeated St. Augustine, 42-14, in the Non-Public South A championship. The following season the Colts repeated as sectional champions with a 45-23 win over St. Augustine.

The team success continued in 2014 when CBA had three champions and eight medal winners en route to winning the District 22 team title, the program’s first district championship since 1968. The Colts repeated as district champions in 2015 and 2016 with a total of six champions and 17 medal winners.

The Colts’ biggest victory in program history came in the 2016 Shore Conference Tournament when they defeated Howell, 34-28, to win the SCT title for the first time in program history. Nick Schutzenhofer’s dramatic 2-1 overtime victory in the final bout clinched the title for the Colts. CBA also defeated Howell, 28-27, during the regular season to end the Rebels' 73-match Class A North winning streak en route to winning a share of the division title, the first division championship in program history.

CBA finished 2016 ranked No. 2 in the Shore behind Group V champion Southern and No. 11 in the state, both of which are the highest final rankings in program history.

During Witt’s tenure, CBA had 11 of its 26 all-time state medalists, including 2016 NJSIAA 113-pound state champion Sebastian Rivera. With a sensational and thrilling fall over Delbarton’s Pat Glory at the 5:59 mark of the match, Rivera became the Colts’ second state champion and first since Pete Black in 1969. CBA also had 11 of its 21 region champions and 22 district champions under Witt. Rivera and current senior Richie Koehler each won three district titles. Koehler became the Colts' second three-time region champion and Rivera was a three-time state medalist.

This past season Koehler was the 120-pound champion at the first individual Shore Conference Tournament, a district and region champion and placed sixth at the state tournament. Seniors Sam Houston and Cameron DiGiorgio also qualified for the state tournament and DiGiorgio finished eighth at 220 pounds.

"It's certainly the big moments that everyone knows of - the SCT, Sebastian's state - but there's also a lot of small moments that stand out," Witt said. "Whether it being a JV guy coming out for the sport and getting his first win or a guy coming through the ranks, I will remember those moments as much."

"I'm extremely proud of the all the guys over the years and all the credit goes to them. They are the ones who put in the time to build the culture and a winning attitude."

A Region 6 Hall of Fame member, Witt wrestled at Lacey and won the 1997 NJSIAA 119-pound state championship with a 9-8 win over Woodbury’s Mike Zechman. He is Lacey’s only state champion. Witt also placed fourth in the state in 1996. Witt was also a three-time District 24 and three-time Region 6 champion and finished his career with 100 victories. He wrestled collegiately at Bloomsburg University.

"I have to thank John Przygocki, my former AD, and Vito Chiaravalotti, my current AD, along with the entire CBA administration for all of their support," Witt said. "I leave CBA with nothing but fond memories.

"I'll miss being in the arena and battling and getting ready for big matches. That fire will never go away and I'll still be rooting for the boys from the bleachers."

CBA will graduate its top-three wrestlers and return just two wrestlers with winning records, so the Colts will certainly be in rebuilding mode under its next coach. Junior Sam LaCorte was 25-11 at 132 pounds this past season and junior Derek Smith went 21-18 at 170 pounds. Starters Nicholas Geissler (106), Max Bean (113), Trevor Smith (126), Chris Gallegos (138) and Declan McGagh (195) will also return next season.

 

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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