Similar to Howell’s dominance in Class A North, A Central has been ruled by Raritan since 2005. The Rockets have won nine of the last 10 division titles with only Matawan’s 2010 title breaking up their run. In fact, no other team in A Central has ever won a division title. This has been Raritan’s playground.

That could all change in 2015, however. Although perennially strong no matter who graduated, Raritan had many key seniors exit the program after last season and will have the pressure on to reload quickly. The team that has the best chance of catching the Rockets is St. John Vianney, which gets a boost from Matawan transfers Khalil Haskins and Calvin Beaty. The Lancers have never won a division title, but are picking up steam under legendary coaches Dennis D’Andrea and Tony Caravella, along with Rob Phillips.

The remaining teams don’t have a great history of team success, but there are some standout individuals in the division like Rumson’s Marcus Iwama and Holmdel’s Pat Ammirati.

 

Teams listed in alphabetical order

 

Holmdel

Head coach: Danny Franke, fourth season

2013-2014 record: 8-17 (2-4, fifth place A Central)

Returning starters: Troy Gallo (So., 113/120), Pat Ammirati (Sr., 120), Matt Scocco (Sr., 138), Chris Ammirati (So., 138/145), Tyler Marchiano (Jr., 145), Luke Braga (Jr., 152), Eugene Layne (Jr., 160), Garrett Hilsheimer (Jr., 170), Seamus Wood (So., 182).

Key losses: none

Newcomers: Tiago Braga (Fr., 113), Scott Dupont (Fr., 126/132), Saleem Khan (Jr., 132), Louey Elsakr (Sr., 145), Johnny O’Beirne (Fr., 145/152), Saif Hussein (Jr., 160), Jason Kessler (So., 182).

 

The Hornets bring back basically their entire team, including four 20-match winners as they look to continue their improvement under fourth-year head coach Danny Franke.

Senior Pat Ammirati is the Hornets’ top wrestler and is coming off a 29-8 season in which he finished second at 106 pounds in District 21. He is joined by sophomore Troy Gallo (24-10) at 113/120 and sophomore Chris Ammirati (20-14) at 138/145 pounds. Junior Abhay Sampat is coming off a 9-5 season at 106 pounds and will be back in the same spot, and junior 145-pounder Tyler Marchiano posted 13 wins last season. A pair of freshmen will join the starting lineup with Tiago Braga at 113 and Scott Dupont at 126/132 pounds.

Junior Garrett Hilsheimer leads the upperweights at 170 pounds coming off a 20-12 sophomore season. Junior Eugene Layne (160) and sophomore Seamus Wood (182) each posted double-digit victories a season ago and add some experience to the upper half of the lineup.

 

Manasquan

Head coach: Matt Voskian, sixth season

2013-2014 record: 3-20 (1-5, sixth place A Central)

Returning starters: Shawn Saulys (So., 113), Francis Faasen (So., 132), Benjamin Meseroll (Sr., 138), Kevin Pompilio (Jr., 145), Joseph Ostberg (So., 152), Phil Vorbach (Jr., 160), Tom Pollock (So., 182), Jordy Martinez (So., 195).

Key losses: Evan Walsh, Ian McNamara, Oliver Warner, Eric Keosseian.

Newcomers: Larissa Brown (Sr. 138), Anthony Whille (Fr., 138), Stephen Gerra (Fr., 138), Idrise Young (Sr. 145), Mychael Roberts (So., 145), Luke Hessinger (Fr., 152), Karla Munoz (So., 152), Eugene Marion (Sr., 170), Richard Orozco (Sr., 170), Charle Barreda (Fr., 195), Xander Bossone (Fr., 195), Dylan Ownes (So., 220), Xavier Mesko (Fr., Hwt).

 

The Warriors were hit hard by graduation and the transfer of wins leader Eric Keosseian, who moved to Howell. Just a handful of starters return, including just one, senior Benjamin Meseroll, with a winning record. Merest leads the Warriors’ group of returners after going 18-12 last season. He is joined by returners Shawn Saulys at 113, sophomore Francis Faasen at 132 and junior Kevin Pompilio at 145.

Sophomore Joseph Ostberg is the returning wins leader among the upperweights after posing 13 victories as a freshman, and will be at 152 pounds. Junior Phil Vorbach (160) and sophomores Tom Pollock (182) and Jordy Martinez (195) add experience after seeing varsity action last season.

 

Matawan

Head coach: Eric Brown, third season

2013-2014 record: 15-10 (3-3, fourth place B North)

Returning starters: Danny Grinberg (So., 120), Billy Rodriguez (Sr., 145), Derrick Wiley (So., 152), Jimmy Pierce (Sr., 160).

Key losses: Tyler Angel, Chris Hartigan, Juan Gonzalez, Sultan Abdelaziz, Calvin Beaty (transfer to St. John Vianney), Khalil Haskins (transfer to St. John Vianney).

Newcomers: Vito Keompel (Fr., 106), Jaleel Gopaul (Fr., 113), Matt Rohrman (Fr., 120), Abisai Guitterez (Sr., 132), Alex Pierce (Jr., 170), Michael Cincis (So., 170), Danny Corador (Sr., 220).

 

The Huskies were hit hard by departures both from graduation and transfers, losing 135 wins from last season’s team. The Huskies do return a pair of 25-match winners in seniors Billy Rodriguez and Jimmy Pierce, who anchor the team from their spots in the middle of the lineup.

Rodriguez went 26-5 last season at 138 pounds and moves up one weight class to 145. Pierce also moves up one spot to 160 after going 28-6 and taking third in the District 21 Tournament. Those two are far and away the most proven and experienced wrestlers Matawan brings back in 2015, however. No other returner had a winning record, and only sophomore Derrick Wiley (152) posted double-digit victories.

 

Monmouth Regional

Head coach: Shawn Brown, first season

2013-2014 record: 5-17 (3-3, fourth place A Central)

Returning starters: Tyler Flynn (So., 120), Alex Britton (Jr., 132), Jon Johnson (Jr., 145), Mike Montefinese (Sr., 170), Shannen McCue (Sr., 195).

Key losses: Jose Hernandez, Dan Armenti.

Newcomers: Luis Victoria (Jr., 113), James Lavelle (Fr., 126), Ely Velez (Jr., 138), Jonah Brewer (Fr., 152), Matt Amfuso (Jr., 160), Frankie Ashe (Jr., 182), Ricky Voss (Fr., 220), Tyler Gallagher (Jr., Hwt).

 

Former Long Branch star Shawn Brown takes over as the Falcons’ head coach and will look to guide a very young squad in 2015.

Monmouth returns just two seniors and five starters from last season’s squad. Seniors Mike Montefinese and Shannen McCue each won 18 matches last season and will anchor the team from their spots at 170 and 195 pounds, respectively. Sophomore Tyler Flynn at 120 and juniors Alex Britton and Jon Johnson at 132 and 145 are the other returning starters. A pair of freshmen join the program, as well, with Jonah Brewer at 152 and Ricky Voss at 220 pounds

 

Raritan

Head coach: Rob Nucci, 14th season

2013-2014 record: 30-4 (6-0, first place A Central)

Returning starters: Eric Drake (Sr., 132), Dylan Seidenberg (Sr., 138), Mike Chadwick (Sr., 145), Jared Lonnay (Jr., 152), Nick Bohal (Jr., 20-13).

Key losses: Ryan Broderick, Kevin Courtney, Connor Sheehan, Tyler Jones, Kyle Lynch, Kyle Polonsky, Pat Toal.

Newcomers: Christian Sookdeo (Fr., 106), Robert Taddeo (Fr., 106), A.J. Erven (Fr., 113), Mark Lazzaro (So., 106) J.P. Wilder (Jr., 113), Russell Benson (Fr., 120), Andrew Bohal (Fr., 126), Eugene Kolibas (So., 126), Issac Richardson (Sr., 152), Adam Bryant (Jr., 160), Joe Stabile (Jr., 170), Ryan Dickens (So., 182), Mike Gillen (Jr., 195), Aaron Daniels (Jr., 220).

 

With the amount of talent and wins Raritan lost to graduation, 210 to be exact, it would seem nearly impossible for the Rockets to remain on top in A Central. Despite losing eight starters to graduation, however, Raritan is again the favorite to repeat as division champs and should continue to contend for a sectional title.

The Rockets will be welcoming several freshmen to the program among the lower weights, but with a great coaching staff and a solid feeder program, the question is usually when and not if Raritan will reload. The six-weight stretch from 126 through 160 pounds will be the strength of the Rockets’ lineup and features two 20-match winners from a season ago. Sophomore Jimmy VanFechtmann could have a breakout year after going 7-1 in a limited role as a freshman, and will wrestle at 126 pounds. At 132 is senior Eric Drake, who went 18-12 last season. Senior Dylan Seidenberg (23-7) is at 138 and senior Mike Chadwick (19-13) will be at 145. Junior Jared Lonnay gained valuable experience in wrestling over 30 matches last season and will be at 152 pounds, and junior Nick Bohal takes the spot at 160 after going 20-13 as a sophomore.

Leading into VanFechtmann will be a group of newcomers including freshmen Christian Sookdeo and Robert Taddeo, along with sophomore Mark Lazzaro at 106. Freshman A.J. Even and junior J.P. Wilder are at 113 pounds with freshman Russell Benson at 120. Also at 126 pounds are freshman Andrew Bohal and sophomore Eugene Kolibas. The upper half of the lineup after Bohal is light on experience. Senior heavyweight Malcolm Daniels is the lone upperclassman, and could have a big year now that he finally gets his shot after the graduated Pat Toal (fifth in New Jersey).

The biggest question for the Rockets is how quickly they can get things rolling. This is a program that has built its reputation on being a hard-working bunch that wins with a balanced lineup. That looks to be the case again, and the Rockets should find themselves right there at the end in battling for a sectional crown. They have a tough test right out of the gates, however, as they take on St. John Vianney on December 23 in a match that will likely decide the division champion.

 

Rumson-Fair Haven

Head coach: Bryan Heller, second season

2013-2014 record: 0-17 (0-6, seventh place A Central)

Returning starters: Coleman Gould (So., 126), Marcus Iwama (Sr., 132/138), Vincent Mazzeo (Jr., 152), Theo Addison (So., 160), Vinnie Ottaviano (Sr., 160), Butch Clarke (Jr., 170), John Robinson (So., 170), Tucker Briggs (Sr., 182), Jake Shea (Jr., 195).

Key losses: none

Newcomers: Brandon Brito (Fr., 106), Chris Albert (Fr., 113/120), Ethan Celebuski (Sr., 145), Jack Fontanella (Fr., 160), Jack Woods (So., 220).

 

The Bulldogs enter their second season under head coach Bryan Heller and return their entire starting lineup as they look to turn the program around.

Rumson is led by senior Marcus Iwama, the 2014 District 22 and Region VI champion at 132 pounds, who finished one win from a medal at the state tournament and went 31-4. He will be at 132 or 138 pounds this season and is a good bet to reach the medal stand in Atlantic City. He is joined by a pair of other double-digit match winners in sophomore Coleman Gould at 126 pounds and senior Tucker Briggs at 182. The Bulldogs have several more wrestlers with varsity experience and should get back into the win column after going winless last season.

 

St. John Vianney

Head coach: Dennis D’Andrea, second season (12th overall)

2013-2014 record: 14-8

Returning starters: Luke Eckloff (So., 106), Paul Piccione (Sr., 126), Aidan Cole (Sr., 145), Kevin Grady (Sr., 152), Raphael Auguste (So., 195), Phil Walsh (Sr., 220), Micah Clark (So., Hwt).

Key losses: Nick Barrett, Nick Landi, Louis Thompson, Terrence Davis, Matt Falco.

Newcomers: Nick Moss (So., 106 - transfer from Spotswood), Nick Caracappa (Fr., 132/138), Khalil Haskins (Jr., 138 - transfer from Matawan), Steven Giannios (Fr., 170), Josiah Walker (Fr., 170/182), Calvin Beaty (Jr., 220 - transfer from Matawan).

 

With a few key holdovers and some new additions ready to make an impact, St. John Vianney looks to challenge Raritan for the division title and make a run at a sectional title in Non-Public A South.

The Lancers are in their second season under the guidance of legendary Shore Conference coaches Dennis D’Andrea and Tony Caravella, along with their former wrestler at Brick Memorial, Rob Phillips. They helped Terrence Davis reach Atlantic City last season as the program’s first state qualifier in 10 years, and the team is poised to do even more in 2015.

St. John Vianney will feature a fairly balanced lineup with one 30-match winner, two 25-match winners and five others that cracked double-digit wins in 2014. Senior Paul Piccione is the returning wins leader after going 31-7 and finishing second at 113 pounds in the District 21 Tournament. He and junior Khalil Haskins (138), a Matawan transfer who finished fourth in the Region VI Tournament and went 28-6, lead the lower half of the lineup. Sophomore Luke Eckloff won 14 matches as a freshman 106-pounder and will be back as the starter, and senior Aidan Cole (145) should see a boost in wins after picking up 17 last season. Freshman Nick Caracappa should make an impact at 132 pounds.

The upper half the lineup is led by another Matawan transfer, junior Calvin Beaty at 220 pounds. Beaty went 25-10 and finished third in the District 21 Tournament a season ago, and gives the Lancers a strong presence among the upper weights. Senior Kevin Grady (18-11) returns as a starter at 152 pounds while sophomores Raphael Auguste (195) and Micah Clark (Hwt) won 12 and 14 matches, respectively, a season ago. A jump in wins by both would give St. John Vianney a formidable final three weights.

Catching Raritan, which has won four straight and nine of the last 10 A Central division titles, would be huge for a program trying to build something. The Lancers have never won a division title, but could get the jump on a Rockets team trying to reload when the two teams meet up early on December 23.