20 Shore Conference (NJ) Class A North Wrestlers to Watch for 2021
As our preview of the 2021 Shore Conference wrestling season continues, we’ll take a look at some of the top wrestlers in the Class A North Division, which features Christian Brothers Academy, Freehold Township, Howell, Long Branch, Manalapan, Marlboro, Middletown North and Middletown South.
Wrestlers are listed in alphabetical order.
Chris Balzano, Sr., Manalapan, 138
Balzano went 27-9 last season and placed third at District 20 to reach the Region 5 Tournament. He’ll make a jump up three weight classes after competing at 120 pounds last season.
Tyler Barrett, So., CBA, 160
Barrett was one of three CBA freshmen who burst onto the high school scene last season and announced the Colts as ascending championship contenders. Wrestling at 145 pounds last season, Barrett put together a 32-9 record that included a District 22 title and a Region 6 championship, joining Richie Koehler and Dave Santamaria as the only CBA freshmen to win region titles. He reached the third round of wrestlebacks at the state tournament and also placed fourth at the Shore Conference Tournament.
Colin Bradshaw, So., Howell, 113
Having standout lightweights is something Howell does as well as any team in the state and Bradshaw is the Rebel’s latest. As a freshman, he went 31-9, won a District 25 title and placed second at the Region 7 Tournament to reach Boardwalk Hall. He’ll be back at 113 as a hammer down low for a team that should again be among the Shore’s best.
Nico Cerbo, Sr., Middletown North, 220/285
Middletown North graduated an incredible senior class that included state champion Tyler Klinsky, state medalist Fred Luchs, state top-12 Thomas O’Keefe and state qualifier Chris McCarthy. There will be a lot of newcomers in the lineup but Cerbo gives the Lions a go-to guy up top. He was 39-7 last season and won a District 22 title before placing fifth in the Region 6 Tournament. He is a three-time region qualifier.
Avery Clarke, Sr., Freehold Township, 160
Clarke missed some time last season but still finished with a 15-3 record, a District 21 title and a sixth-place finish in Region 6 at 145 pounds. He is a two-time district champion and will look to get back to the state tournament after qualifying as a sophomore at 126 pounds. He is committed to wrestle collegiately at Franklin & Marshall.
Gavin Claro, Sr., Manalapan, 220
Claro was one win short of an all-state placement at last season’s state tournament and finished with a top-12 designation at 195 pounds. He was 36-6 a season ago with a District 20 title and a second-place finish in Region 5. Claro is a two-time state qualifier.
Joseph Conlon, Sr., Long Branch, 152
Conlon is the Green Wave’s returning wins leader after going 25-11 and placing second at the District 23 Tournament. He is a two-time region finalist who won a title in 2019 and as a senior will look to reach the state tournament in his final attempt.
Owen Fitzgerald, Sr., Middletown South, 152
Fitzgerald was one of three district champions for Middletown South last season and returns to man the middle of the lineup after going 29-9 and also placing fifth in the Region 5 Tournament at 152 last season. He is a two-time region qualifier.
Jack Friedman, Sr., Long Branch, 170
Friedman went 24-13 last season and holds the farthest postseason advancement of Long Branch’s returner, placing third in District 23 and fifth at the Region 6 Tournament.
Julian George, So. CBA, 132/138
Part of CBA’s outstanding sophomore group, George had an excellent freshman year by going 38-8 and reaching the fourth round of wrestlebacks at the state tournament to finish with a top-12 designation at 126 pounds. He was second in District 22 and third in Region 6.
David Hussey, So., Middletown South, 138
Hussey’s freshman season stayed under the radar thanks to teammate Jack Zaleski’s all-state debut, but it was a great first year for him, as well. Hussey went 29-11 last season and won a District 19 championship. He then placed fourth at the Region 5 Tournament to qualify for the NJSIAA Championships. After competing at 120 pounds last season, Hussey will move up three weight classes to 138.
Paul Jakub, Sr., Howell, 160
Jakub did not compete in the individual postseason last year. If he did, he certainly would have been a contender for district and region titles along with a spot on the medal stand in Atlantic City. Jakub went 28-5 last season to help the Rebels go 24-1, win their 15th straight division title and reach the South Jersey Group 5 final. A Belmont Abbey recruit, Jakub has 95 career wins and is a district champ and a two-time finalist, a two-time region finalist and a two-time state qualifier.
Neiko Malone, Sr., Howell, 126
Malone will be back at 126 pounds for the fourth consecutive season and will look to claim his first state medal before continuing his career at Rider University. He enters his senior season with 99 career wins. Malone is coming off a junior year where he went 35-8, won a District 25 title and reached the second round of wrestlebacks at the state tournament. He was also fourth at the Shore Conference Tournament. For his career, Malone is a two-time state qualifier, a three-time district finalist and won the SCT title in 2019.
Mike Malucelli, Jr., Marlboro
Malucelli was a 30-match winner as a sophomore, going 20-9 and finishing second at the District 19 Tournament. He and fellow junior Christian Steensen give Marlboro two anchors in the upper half of the lineup.
Antonio Martinez, Sr., Freehold Township, 220/285
Having reliable big men can swing the tide in dual meets and the Patriots will have one to deploy with Martinez. He can swing between 220 and heavyweight to give Freehold Township flexibility up top and is coming off a junior year where went 19-14, won a District 21 title at heavyweight and placed sixth in Region 6.
Sam Nini, Sr., CBA, 132/138
Nini made his mark for the Colts last season after transferring from Allentown, posting a 17-6 record, reaching a district final and placing third in Region 6 to qualify for the state tournament. He is a three-time district medalist
Zander Silva, So., CBA, 152
Silva went 30-10 as a freshman wrestling at 132 pounds and flashed his potential in the postseason by placing third in both District 22 and Region 6 to qualify for the state tournament. He jumps three weight classes season to give the Colts a formidable middleweight duo with fellow sophomore Tyler Barrett.
Garrett Totten, Jr., CBA, 120/126
Totten transferred from Northern Burlington and will give the Colts a huge boost in the lower half of their lineup. He went 35-8 and placed seventh in the state at 113 pounds after a third-place finish in Region 6. He is a two-time state qualifier, a two-time region third-place medalist and a two-time district finalist.
Zach Vasile, Sr., Marlboro
Vasile made a nice jump from his sophomore year to his junior year, finishing with a 34-10 record and reaching the second round of wrestlebacks at the state tournament while competing at 132 pounds. He was also a finalist in District 19 and Region 5.
Jack Zaleski, So., Middletown South, 120
Zaleski had an outstanding freshman season in a 106-pound weight class that was loaded within the Shore Conference and is always stacked at the state level. Zaleski went 42-6, won a District 19 title, claimed the Region 5 crown and finished fifth in the state. He became the Eagles’ first state medalist since 2009, their first region champ since 2012 and joined Shore Conference luminary Glenn Pritzlaff as the only wrestlers in program history to win a region title as a freshman.
Other returning district medalists
Vincent Principe, Jr., CBA, 106/113
Nicholas Geissler, Sr., CBA, 120/126
Nicholas Stump, So., CBA, 132/138
Mason Gerber, Sr., CBA, 170
Kyle Nase, Sr., Howell, 132
Hunter Lino, Sr., Howell, 195
Angel Bonnano, Jr., Long Branch, 145
Andrew Conklin, Sr., Long Branch, 195
Vincent DePierro, So., Manalapan, 120
Anthony Vitola, So., Manalapan, 126
Calvin Burke, Sr., Manalapan, 132
James Grande, Sr., Manalapan, 145
Christian Steensen, Jr., Marlboro
Colin Oden, So., Middletown North
Jack Butler, Sr., Middletown North
Robert Generelli, Jr., Middletown South, 132
Nick Holland, Jr., Middletown South, 152
Sean Fitzpatrick, Sr., Middletown South, 182
Jack Willi, Jr., Middletown South, 195
Matt Cody, Jr., Middletown South, 220