Wrestling – Region VI Tournament Preview
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2015 NJSIAA Region VI Tournament
At Pine Belt Arena (Toms River North)
Wednesday Feb. 25
Pre-quarterfinals, 5 p.m.
Friday Feb. 27
Quarterfinals, 5 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 28
Semifinals and wrestlebacks, 10 a.m.
Third-place bouts, 1:30 p.m.
Finals, 4 p.m.
Note: Weight check will be two and a half hours before the and weigh-ins will be two hours before wrestling begins.
2014 champ: Gianni Ghione, Brick Memorial (now at 113).
Returning medalists: none
Matchups: 9-Alex Erven (Keyport, 27-3) vs. 8-Chris Dean (Shore, 33-5), winner vs. 1-Kyle Slendorn (Howell, 33-0); 5- Richie Koehler (CBA, 28-3) vs. winner of 13-Ben Sabo (Point Boro, 16-13) vs. 4-Jeff DeLuise (Barnegat, 27-2); 3-Luke Moynihan (Lacey, 31-4) vs. winner of 11-Sean Deering (Middletown North, 23-10) vs. 6-Luke Ecklof (St. John Vianney, 28-4); 7-Matt Wardlaw (Brick Memorial, 8-13) vs. winner vs. 15-Owen Kretschmer (Southern, 9-7) vs. 2-Joey King (Colts Neck, 30-1).
Analysis: The strength of this bracket resided in District 21 where the top-seeded Slendorn and second-seeded King, both freshmen, were both undefeated until Slendorn’s 6-0 win in the final. CBA freshman Koehler is the No. 5 seed, meaning he’ll have to get through Slendorn to reach the final. Slendorn won 7-4 when the two met during the regular season. Because of that, you could argue Slendorn has the tougher road to the finals as opposed to King in the bottom half of the bracket, who should have no problem reaching the semifinals. Moynihan is the No. 3 seed after knocking off Barnegat senior DeLuise, who comes in as the No. 4 seed. St. John Vianney’s Eckloff is one to watch out of the No. 6 seed. He has a tough road, but could certainly make a run to the final.
Prediction: 1-Slendorn, 2-King, 3-Koehler.
2014 champion: Owen McClave, Toms River South (now at 120).
Returning medalists: Sebastian Rivera (Second at 106 in 2014); Gianni Ghione (First at 106 in 2014).
Matchups: 8-Nick Gallicchio (Toms River South, 24-6) vs. 1-Sebastian Rivera (CBA, 30-0); 12-Ricardo Diaz (Toms River North, 19-9) vs. 5-Mike Spino (Jackson Memorial, 26-8) 13-Luke Gauthier (Lacey, 29-6) vs. 4-Mikey Sisolak (Howell, 24-6); (3-Colin Monahan (Freehold, 31-4) vs. winner of 11-Blake Dale (Point Boro, 23-8) vs. 6-Jason Hernandez (Long Branch, 22-6); 10-Jack Kelly (Wall, 25-8) vs. 7-David Tieto (Ocean, 27-10), winner vs. 2-Gianni Ghione (Brick Memorial, 29-1).
Analysis: The top two seeds, Rivera and Ghione, have been on a collision course since the start of the season. Ghione defeated Rivera 5-3 to win last season’s 106-pound title, but Rivera went on to place fifth in the state tournament. It’s hard to imagine anyone else crashing the party, so we should see a rematch in the final. Rivera has been dominant this season with a 31-0 record, while Ghione’s only loss came at the season-opening TCNJ Pride Tournament. He’s been on a tear ever since and was a bonus-point machine down the stretch for the Group V champion Mustangs. The battle for third should be very interesting with anyone seeded in the top 10 having a legitimate chance at advancing.
Prediction: 1-Rivera, 2-Ghione, 3-Monahan.
2014 champion: Mike Russo, Jackson Liberty (now at 126).
Returning medalists: Owen McClave (second at 106 in 2013, first at 113 in 2014); Denzel Tovar, (third at 106 in 2013, third at 113 in 2014); Fred Terranova (third at 106 in 2014); Peter Dee (fourth at 106 in 2014).
Matchups: 8-Jake Benner (Ocean, 29-4) vs 1-Owen McClave (Toms River South, 29-0); 12-Luis Bocalman (Brick Memorial, 18-11) vs. 5-Yoseph Borai (Toms River East, 33-3); 13-Carl Vasti (CBA, 14-16) vs. 4-Peter Dee (Howell, 25-7); 3-Fred Terranova (Jackson Memorial, 25-7) vs. winner of 11-Rodman Rupp (Point Beach, 25-8) vs. 6-Chris Crane (Southern, 21-5) 10-Russell Benson (Raritan, 27-7) vs. 7-Paul Piccione (St. John Vianney, 29-4), winner vs. 2- Denzel Tovar (Wall, 32-0).
Analysis: This was the weight that nearly exploded the seeding meeting. After the top two seeds, Toms River South’s McClave and Wall’s Tovar, it was geometry class. Triangles, quadrangles, hexagons - basically everyone having wins over each other made this a nightmare to seed, so much so that the NJSIAA had to finalize the bracket. While I believe it will be McClave and Tovar in the final, the road could be bumpy for both. There could be upsets all over this bracket, and the fight for third will be knock-down, drag-out. There will also likely be a ton of rematches, so it will be interesting to see how the second, and sometimes third, meetings will play out.
Prediction: 1-McClave, 2-Tovar, 3-Borai.
2014 champion: Ryan Budzek, Point Boro (graduated)
Returning medalists: Mike Russo (second at 106 in 2012, first at 106 in 2013, first at 120 in 2014); Dan Nobbs (second at 120 in 2012, fourth at 120 in 2013, third at 120 in 2014).
Matchups: 9-Kevin Tranz (Lacey, 22-14) vs. 8-Gianni Bennett (Southern, 17-9), winner vs. 1-Mike Russo (Jackson Liberty, 35-2); 12-Shane Mullan (Marlboro, 19-5) vs. 5-Nick Wagner (Wall 26-5); 13-Chris Donnelly (Ocean, 10-16) vs. 4-Dylan VanSickell (CBA, 30-1); 3-Andy Hernandez (Long Branch, 24-5) vs. winner of 11-Nick Ciaccia (Howell, 24-8) vs. 6-Jose Bocalman (Brick Memorial, 22-7); 7-Cole Corrigan (Toms River South, 27-3) vs. 2-Daniel Nobbs (Point Boro, 25-2).
Analysis: There is a lot of talent in this weight class, but the favorite remains Russo, who is going for his third region title. A two-time, top-four finisher in the state tournament, Russo’s only two losses came early in the season to North Hunterdon’s Ryan Pomrinca and Monroe’s Sal Profaci, both state medalists last season. He’ll have a tough semifinal opponent, likely CBA’s Dylan VanSickell or Wall’s Nick Wagner, but this is his tournament to win. Where things get interesting is the bottom half of the bracket. Friday night’s quarterfinal bout between Corrigan and Nobbs will be among the best quarterfinals in the entire tournament, and a rematch of their early-season meeting at the TCNJ Pride Tournament where Corrigan won 4-2. Long Branch’s Hernandez comes in hot after handing VanSickell his first loss, winning 10-5 in sudden victory in the District 22 final. Bocalman or Ciaccia are both capable of making a run, as well, but they square off in Wednesday’s win-or-go-home preliminary round.
Prediction: 1-Russo, 2-Nobbs, 3-VanSickell
Defending champion: Marcus Iwama, Rumson-Fair Haven
Returning medalists: Marcus Iwama (third at 126 in 2013, first at 132 in 2014); James Knoeller ( fourth at 113 in 2014); Khalil Haskins (fourth at 132 in 2014).
Matchups: 9-Patrick O'Donnell (Toms River North, 21-12) vs. 8-Joe Demuner (Wall, 23-10), winner vs. 1-Dylan Seidenberg (Raritan, 32-1); 12-Jaquan Jaquez (Lakewood, 26-8) vs. 5-Khalil Haskins (St. John Vianney, 8-4), winner vs. 4-Anthony Gagliano (Howell, 28-5); 6-Luke Vescovi (Brick Memoria, 19-6) vs. 3-James Knoeller (Southern, 22-4); 10-Jeremy Bollard (Jackson Liberty, 23-6) vs. 7-John Finnerty (Point Beach, 27-2); 15-Jiovani Gomez (Long Branch, 15-15) vs. 2-Marcus Iwama (Rumson-Fair Haven, 29-2).
Analysis: Seidenberg grabbed the top seed by defeating Iwama 8-6 in the District 22 final to avenge his only loss of the season. It’s all set up for round three in the region final where Iwama will look to defend his title while Seidenberg would be going for his first region title and first trip to the state tournament. This bracket should be drama-free until the semifinal, at least concerning the top two seeds. The Vescovi-Knoeller quarterfinal bout should be a good one, and whoever comes out should give Iwama a good run. Same goes for the top half of the bracket, where it could be Gagliano vs. Haskins in the quarters. Haskins returned from a broken wrist to compete in the District 21 Tournament, and lost by 17-6 major decision to Gagliano. If he’s healthy and on his game he can make a run, but that doesn’t look to be the case after the 11-point loss. Either way, he or Gagliano will be a solid matchup against Seidenberg in the semifinals.
Prediction: 1-Seidenberg, 2-Iwama, 3-Gagliano.
2014 champion: Matt Wilhelm, Southern (now at 152).
Returning medalists: Matt Russo (third at 113 in 2012, third at 120 in 2013); Kris Lindemann (second at 132 in 2014).
Matchups: 8-Eric Drake (Raritan, 21-10) vs. 1-Matt Russo (Jackson Liberty, 36-0); 12-Jack McMahon (Red Bank, 26-6) vs. 5-Kris Lindemann (Howell, 19-7); 13-Jack Wishart (Wall, 16-5) vs. 4-Tim Hamann (Jackson Memorial, 26-8); 14-Tommy Flannigan (Long Branch, 13-9) vs. 3-Connor Garrity (Lacey, 29-5), winner vs. 6-Anthony Mitchell (Brick Memorial, 22-4); 10-Vinny Fichera (Toms River North, 24-11) vs. 7-Jack McLafferty (Brick, 22-8), winner vs. 2-Pat Mooney (Southern, 25-8).
Analysis: This is going to be a good one. Considering state medalist Kris Lindemann is the No. 5 seed (!), the depth of this weight is fantastic. Russo is the top seed with a blistering 36-0 record that includes a pair of wins over Hamann and a win over Lindemann. Hamann defeated Lindemann 6-5 during the Shore Conference Tournament, and they would meet again in the quarterfinals if they get through tough opening-round matches with Wishart and McMahon, respectively. The winner there would get another shot at Russo in the semifinals. The bottom half of the bracket is wide open. Mooney got the No. 2 seed over Garrity by virtue of his win in the District 24 final, and Garrity has a win by pin over Hamann. The one to watch here is Mitchell at No. 6, who can pin anyone in the bracket with his lethal throws.
Prediction: 1-Russo, 2-Mitchell, 3-Lindemann.
2014 champion: Zach Wilhelm, Southern (graduated)
Returning medalists: Alec Donovan (third at 138 in 2013, second at 145 in 2014); Tom Poklikuha (third at 138 in 2014).
Matchups: 9-Michael Chadwick (Raritan, 24-11) vs. 8-Pete Gencarelli (Point Boro, 21-9), winner vs. 1-Alec Donovan (Brick Memorial, 29-1); 12-Ryan O'Donnell (Toms River North, 18-9) vs. 5-William Rodriguez (Matawan, 19-4), winner vs. 4-Joe Santamarco (Manalapan, 31-4); 11-Seon Bowker (Southern, 17-9) vs. 6-Pete Powell (Marlboro, 31-2), winner vs. 3-Paul Capaldo (Middletown North, 31-3); 10-Thomas Hinz (Red Bank, 26-6) vs. 7-Alex Johnson (Shore, 36-3), winner vs. 2-Tom Poklikuha (Pinelands, 32-1).
Analysis: This weight is all set up for friends and workout partners at Shore Thing Wrestling Club, Donovan and Poklikuha, to duke it out in the final. Donovan has been a bull this season with his only loss coming to DePaul’s Brandon Kui at 152 pounds during the Mustang Classic. He was instrumental in Brick Memorial capturing the NJSIAA Group V title. Poklikuha has been great, as well, with his only defeat coming in controversial fashion to High Point’s Jason Gaccione, a state medalist last season, in the Colt Classic finals. Donovan would be the favorite if the two meet, but given their familiarity with each other, who knows what will happen. I don’t think anyone will break up their potential finals matchup, but the candidates to do so would be Santomarco as the No. 4 seed, who has a potential meeting with Donovan in the semifinals, along with either No. 3 Capaldo or No. 6 Powell. Watch out for Johnson, who has a lethal cradle and could make a run in the championship or consolation brackets.
Prediction: 1-Donovan, 2-Poklikuha, 3-Capaldo.
2014 champion: Nick Racanelli, Southern (graduated)
Returning medalists: Matt Wilhelm (first at 138 in 2014); Dan Saraiva (fourth at 120 in 2012).
Matchups: 9-T.J. Saldutti (Ocean, 27-7) vs. 8-Matt Garrity (Lacey, 25-10), winner vs. 1-Matt Wilhelm (Southern, 27-2); 5-Nick Pollara (Brick, 19-4) vs. 4-Matt Best (Middletown South, 24-4); 14-Garrett Fitzgerald (CBA, 18-14) vs. 3-Daniel Saraiva (Marlboro, 24-4); 11-Rob Ruggiero (Brick Memorial, 22-6) vs. 6-Josh Glantzman (Wall, 25-4); 10-Sean Leahey (Jackson Memorial, 22-8) vs. 7-Andrew Meyers (Toms River East, 31-5) winner vs. 2- Jake Kaminsky (Manalapan, 27-0).
Analysis: Another deep bracket, and one where after the two two seeds all bets are off. Wilhelm is the solid favorite whose two losses came at 160, where he wrestled for nearly all of the season. Kaminsky earned the No. 2 seed on the strength of his win over third-seeded Saraiva. After that there are a lot of triangles, which should make for some interesting matchups in the early rounds. Kind of crazy that either Glantzman or Ruggiero will be done after Wednesday’s preliminary rounds, as that is the 6 vs. 11 matchup. Glantzman edged Ruggiero 4-2 earlier in the season. Ruggiero and Pollara are dangerous because of their pinning abilities, and that’s alway an x-factor. Keep an eye on Toms River East sophomore Andrew Meyers out of the No. 7 seed.
Prediction: 1-Wilhelm, 2-Kaminsky, 3-Ruggiero.
2014 champion: Brett Donner, Wall (now at 170).
Returning medalists: Will Scott (fourth at 145 in 2014); Antrez Clagon (second at 170 in 2014).
Matchups: 9-Joe Toci (Southern, 17-14) vs. 8-James Pierce (Matawan, 23-5), winner vs. 1-Will Scott (Brick, 29-2); 5-Chris Koutzen (CBA, 20-11) vs. 4-Nino Gagliano (Freehold Township, 23-2); 3-Antrez Clagon (Toms River South, 29-3) vs. winner of 11-Mike Montefinese (Monmouth, 23-4) vs. 6-Nick Bohal (Raritan, 27-7); 10-Jarret DiGiantomasso (Jackson Memorial, 16-9) vs. 7-Corrado Spinosa (Central,18-9); 15-Lamont Reid (Long Branch, 29-7) vs. 2-Cliff Ruggiero (Brick Memorial, 27-4).
Analysis: Scott grabbed the top seed based on his win by disqualification win over Ruggiero in the District 23 final, and he also owns a 5-1 win over Clagon. Ruggiero has an 8-6 win over Scott from the regular season, and was up 5-2 at the time of his DQ for an illegal slam, so he has the edge despite being the No. 2 seed. Clagon is third and Gagliano is seeded fourth. I don’t see anyone breaking up those four to reach the semifinals, and once there it’s anyone’s tournament to win. Gagliano is finally healthy after being banged up nearly his entire career, but would have to deal with Scott and his funky style and dominating top-game in the semifinals. Ruggiero and Clagon met in the season-opening TCNJ Pride Tournament with Ruggiero taking a 3-2 decision in ultimate tiebreaker up at 170 pounds.
Prediction: 1-Ruggiero, 2-Scott, 3-Clagon.
2014 champion: Dean Sherry, Brick (now at 182)
Returning medalists: Zach Hertling (first at 120 in 2012, second at 132 in 2013); Brett Donner (third at 152 in 2013, first at 160 in 2014); Kyle Wojtaszek (third at 132 in 2013, third at 152 in 2014).
Matchups: 9-Mike Shohet (Long Branch, 24-11) vs. 8-Christopher Nielsen (Pinelands, 28-6), winner vs. 1-Zach Hertling (Ocean, 27-1); 12-Joe Stowers (Brick Memorial, 12-15) vs. 5-Dylan DaSilva (Toms River North, 25-6), winner vs. 4-Peyton Blauvelt (Southern, 21-5); 14-Fred Svenson (Middletown North, 22-11) vs. 3-Kyle Wojtaszek (Brick, 30-1), winner vs. 6-Tanner Kelly (Jackson Memorial ); 10-Garrett Hilsheimer (Holmdel, 27-7) vs. 7-Steven Chandler (Manalapan, 20-4), winner vs. 2-Brett Donner (Wall, 10-0).
Analysis: Apologies to every wrestler not named Hertling, Donner or Wojtaszek, because the odds of advancing to the state tournament are slim to none. The marquee weight of the entire tournament features three wrestlers who have all won medals in Atlantic City, including third-place finishes by Hertling in 2012 and Donner in 2014. Hertling has the edge in criteria because he also placed fourth in the state as a freshman, so that’s why he is the top seed. That’s huge, because his road to the final is significantly easier than Donner or Wojtaszek, who will have to face each other in the semifinals. Donner beat Wojtaszek 13-11 in sudden victory overtime in an epic District 23 final, so a rematch is certainly welcomed from the fans’ perspective. Donner has wrestled only 10 bouts this season coming off a high-ankle sprain, but showed he’s ready in rallying from a six-point deficit to beat Wojtaszek and hand him his only loss. Hertling’s only loss came by injury default in a bout he was winning earlier in the season, so he’s essentially unbeaten, as well.
Prediction: 1-Donner, 2-Hertling, 3-Wojtaszek
2014 champion: Nick Costa, Brick Memorial (graduated)
Returning medalists: Dean Sherry (first at 170 in 2014); Connor Bohringer (fourth at 182 in 2014); Joe Salvato (fourth at 160 in 2014).
Matchups: 9- Bobby Mitler (Brick Memorial, 12-11) vs. 8-Gregory Schmalz (Barnegat, 20-9), winner vs. 1-Dean Sherry (Brick, 31-0); 12-Tucker Briggs (Rumson-Fair Haven, 15-9) vs. 5-Austin Silverstein (Howell, 21-12), winner vs. 4-Anthony Vetrano (Middletown North, 31-3); 3-Joe Salvato (Toms River South, 29-0) vs. winner of 11-Shannen McCue (Monmouth, 16-5) vs. 6-Jack LaCorte (CBA, 23-6); 10-Steven Barsky (Colts Neck, 18-6) vs. 7-Tyler MacLaine (Toms River North, 24-11), winner vs. 2-Connor Bohringer (Jackson Memorial, 24-1).
Analysis: A very solid top four with Sherry, Bohringer, Salvato and Vetrano in that order. Sherry is undefeated with a 3-2 win over Bohringer, which is the only loss for the Jaguars senior. Salvato is unbeaten, as well. Sherry has been a freight train all season and is a very solid favorite to reach the final and go for his second region title. The battle in the bottom half of the bracket between Bohringer and Salvato should be a good one, as should the third-place bout. It would be a major surprise if anyone outside the top four advances.
Prediction: 1-Sherry, 2-Bohringer, 3-Salvato.
2014 champion: Mike Oxley, CBA (graduated)
Returning medalists: Tyree Sutton (third at 195 in 2014); Matt McKenzie (fourth at 170 in 2014); Dean Helstowski (third at 182 in Region IV in 2014).
Matchups: 9-Javier Holguin (Manchester, 27-7) vs. 8-Anthony Terry (Lakewood, 27-10), winner vs. 1-Tyree Sutton (Keansburg, 36-0); 5-Quentin DeCarlo (Toms River South, 23-2) vs. 4-Calvin Beaty (St. John Vianney, 26-6); 14-Pat McAteer (Colts Neck, 23-5) vs. 3-Dean Helstowski (Brick, 24-5); 11-Viet Le (Ocean, 22-11) vs. 6-Eric Keosseian (Howell, 24-10); 10-Sean Killeen (Middletown South, 18-16) vs. 7-Connor Owen (Brick Memorial, 15-13), winner vs. 2-Matt McKenzie (Wall, 31-0).
Analysis: Plain and simple, this is Sutton’s weight to win. McKenzie also enters undefeated, and is coming off a very impressive 13-0 major decision of Helstowski in the District 23 final, but Sutton appears to be on another level. He’s ranked 11th in the nation at 195 by FloWrestling and has his eyes set on making history in his final season. He is looking to become Keansburg’s first region champion and state champion. He is already the program’s only state medalist, which he accomplished in finishing sixth last season. A potential semifinal between McKenzie and Helstowski still has some intrigue, but not nearly as much as anticipated after McKenzie’s convincing win last week. While the top two seeds should reach the final with Sutton as the heavy favorite, the battle for third is interesting with Helstowski, Beaty, DeCarlo and Keosseian all in the mix.
Prediction: 1-Sutton, 2-McKenzie, 3-Helstowski.
2014 champion: Tyler Poling, Brick Memorial (graduated)
Returning medalists: Chad Freshnock (second at 182 in 2014); Mike Siwiec (fourth at 220 in 2014).
Matchups: 9-Joey Jasio (Long Branch, 26-3) vs. 8-Pat Ferraro (Southern, 27-4), winner vs. 1-Chad Freshnock (Middletown North, 19-1); 12-Zach Youngberg (Neptune, 15-12) vs. 5-Dom Infante (Point Boro, 25-5), winner vs. 4-Ray Fattaruso (Brick, 11-1); 14-Denis Corbin (Central, 15-9) vs. 3-Will Oxley (CBA, 25-5), winner vs. 6-Fred Womack (Colts Neck, 26-9); 10-Sean Silverstein (Howell, 22-11) vs. 7-Alex Shtindler (Marlboro, 28-7), winner vs. 2-Mike Siwiec (Toms River North, 27-0).
Analysis: Middletown North hasn’t had a region champ since Frank Molinaro won in 2004, but the Lions have a great chance this year with top-seeded junior Chad Freshnock. He has split time between 195 and 220 since returning from knee surgery, and his only loss is to Keansburg’s Tyree Sutton at 195 pounds. He owns wins of 5-2 and 3-1 over third-seeded Oxley. Siwiec is one of 11 undefeated wrestlers in Region VI, and also has a win over Oxley (5-0). Freshnock is a solid bet to reach the final and win it all, but his road won’t be easy with Jasio or Ferraro and Fattaruso likely standing in his way. Siwiec would reach the semifinals where he would potentially face Oxley for the second time. You can’t underestimate a wrestler who comes in hot, and that’s the case for Womack, who won the District 21 title as the No. 7 seed.
Prediction: 1-Freshnock, 2-Siwiec, 3-Oxley
2014 champion: Kyle Cocozza, Howell (graduated)
Returning medalists: Nick Rivera (third at Hwt in 2014).
Matchups: 9-Rafael Natal (Manchester, 22-7) vs. 8-Ryan Demian (Howell, 22-8), winner vs. 1- Brody Graham (Jackson Memorial, 32-1); 12-Brian Olesen (Ocean, 22-12) vs. 5-Malcolm Daniels (Raritan, 25-8), winner vs. 4-Darius Marrow (Central, 26-2); 3-John Tomlinson (Long Branch, 17-4) vs. winner of 11-Forrest Gardner (Point Beach, 19-12) vs. 6-Micah Clark (St. John Vianney, 20-9); 10-Rob Fallon (Shore, 21-10) vs. 7-Alex Scherer (Toms River North, 24-9), winner vs. 2-Nick Rivera (Brick Memorial, 26-1).
Analysis: Graham and Rivera have been the two best heavyweights in the Shore all season, and it would be shocking if they didn’t meet in the region final. The pair has wrestled twice this season with Rivera winning 6-2 and Graham winning 1-0. The rubber match will be one of the more anticipated matchups of the tournament. It’s heavyweight, so anything can happen, but those two are clearly the class of the field and two of the best heavyweights in all of New Jersey. As for who finishes third, your guess is as good as mine.
Prediction: 1-Graham, 2-Rivera, 3-Tomlinson.