Every week during the 2017 season, Shore Conference wrestling fans will have their chance to vote for the Shore Sports Network Wrestler of the Week on our website, with over 15,000 votes cast during the first poll.

The first winner of the Wrestler of the Week award, which is actually for the entire month of December, is Raritan junior 132-pounder Russell Benson, who went 10-0 with seven pins to start the season.

Benson, who was the Region VI runner-up at 126 pounds last season, won the Hawk Classic at Manchester with two wins by fall and a 5-2 decision over Gateway-Woodbury's Tim Sparks in the championship bout. His best two wins during December were a 2-1 win in ultimate tiebreaker over Holmdel's Troy Gallo, who was a third-place finisher in District 21 last year, and a win by fall over Wall's Nick Wagner, who was a District 23 champion and the fourth-place finisher at 132 pounds in the Region VI Tournament.

Benson now has 72 career wins and is 11-1 through Jan. 6. The Rockets are ranked No. 3 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 and are contenders for the Shore Conference Tournament and the NJSIAA Group II championships. Benson will continue to play a major role as Raritan's top individual, and when the individual portion of the postseason comes around Benson will be looking to secure a place on the medal stand in Atlantic City.

Benson secured 40.11 percent of the vote to win the poll over some other candidates who also had great resumes over the first two-plus weeks of the season. Howell freshman Shane Reitsma was second and Lacey sophomore Hunter Gutierrez was third.

 

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