2015-2016 Class A Central Wrestling Preview
Teams listed in alphabetical order
Head coach: Danny Franke, fifth season
Career record: 35-79.
2014-2015 record: 13-18.
Assistant coaches: Joe Moschella, Daren Salor; Ben Ostner (volunteer).
NJSIAA section: Central Jersey Group II.
Returning starters: Abhay Sampat, Sr., 106 (21-14); Troy Gallo, Jr., 126/132 (28-8); Zach Wolf, So., 126/132 (9-4); Scott Dupont, So., 145 (31-4); Chris Ammirati, Jr., 152 (24-12); Johnny O'Beirne, So., 152 (13-23); S.J. Merry, Sr., 160 (12-18); Garrett Hilsheimer, Sr., 170 (28-8, 3rd D21); Seamus Wood, Jr., 195 (18-20).
Key newcomers: Dean Gallo, Fr., 120; Saleem Khan, Jr., 138 (1-5); Thiago Braga, So., 138; Ryan Joffe, Jr., 152; Alexander Lamberti, Sr., 182; Caleb Pellot, Fr., 195.
Duals to watch: Jan. 6 at Monmouth; Jan. 13 at Manasquan; Jan. 20 vs. Red Bank Catholic; Jan. 26 vs. Point Beach; Feb. 11 at Shore.
Tournaments: Ewing Tournament, Dec. 19; Holmdel Holiday Tournament, Dec. 29.
A combination of talented youth and experience has the Hornets excited for their potential in 2016.
Senior Garrett Hilsheimer headlines a group that includes four 20-bout winner and returning wins leader Scott Dupont, who went 31-4 as a freshman. The Hornets will be competitive with programs of similar size, and could really be a factor in tournaments.
Senior Abhay Sampat at 106, junior Troy Gallo at 126/132 and Dupont at 145 are the strong points of Holmdel's lower half. Sophomore Zach Wolf was 9-4 in limited time as a freshman, so a full year as a starter could see him app round 15-20 wins. Holmdel is high on freshman Dean Gallo at 120 pounds.
Junior Chris Ammirati at 152 and Hilsheimer at 170 lead the middle and upperweights, and sophomore Johnny O'Beirne, junior Seamus Wood and senior S.J. Merhi are all double-digit winners from a season ago. Ryan Joffe at 152 and Alexander Lamberti at 182 did not wrestle last season, but have previous varsity experience.
The problem for Holmdel is its lack of a 113-pounder and vacancies at 220 and heavyweight. There are also several wrestlers at 152, so someone is going to have to move up or down to get all the talent in the lineup at the same time.
Dupont missed out on an individual postseason medal last season in a tough weight, but could make the jump to region medalist if all goes right. Hilsheimer will look to do the same after reaching the region tournament as a junior. Sampat is one to watch since seniors at 106 have a very good track record.
Head coach: Matt Voskian, seventh season.
2014-2015 record: 2-21.
Assistant coach: Sean Cunningham.
NJSIAA section: Central Jersey Group II.
Returning starters: Brendan Gillespie, Jr., 113 (3-22); Shawn Saulys, Jr., 120 (11-21); Kevin Pompilio, Sr., 145 (3-11); Jack Lueddeke, Jr., 145 (7-11); Frankie Faasen, Jr., 152 (18-16); Joey Ostberg, Jr., 160 (17-16); Phil Vorbach, Sr., 170 (5-19); Rory O'Connell, Sr., 170 (4-12); Charles Barreda, So., 195 (2-22); Jordy Martinez, Jr., 220 (2-28); Dylan Owens, Jr., Hwt (2-15); Xavier Mesko, So., Hwt. (1-13).
Key newcomers: Bella Serrano, Fr., 106; Billy Bruno, Fr., 113; Ethan Denis, Fr., 126; Griffin Core, Fr., 132; Ian Walsh, Fr., 138; Saul Paz-Garnica, Jr., 145 (2-3); Stephen Gerra, So., 145; Idris Young, Sr., 145; Andrew Leather, Fr., 145; Karla Munoz, Jr., 152; Anthony Whille, So., 160; Luke Messenger, So., 160; Pete Pastelek, So., 182; Nick Vitale, So., 182 (0-1); Rob Cuccurrullo, Jr., 195; Xander Boson, So., 220 (2-5); Rob Hart, Sr., Hwt.
Duals to watch: Jan. 13 vs. Holmdel; Jan. 23 at Raritan with Rumson/Monmouth; Feb. 10 at Keansburg.
Tournaments: Old Bridge Icebreaker, Dec. 19; Holmdel Holiday Tournament, Dec. 29.
Manasquan has great numbers for the first time in several seasons and plenty of returning starters as it looks to climb the divisional ladder after a rough 2014-2015 season.
Twelve starters are back, including seven from 152 through heavyweight. Juniors Frankie Faasen and Joey Ostberg at 152 and 160 are the returning wins leaders with 18 and 17, respectively. Junior Shawn Saulys recorded 11 wins as a sophomore and leads the lower weights.
Having six freshmen that could see time is big for the program to build a solid foundation. It looks like things are going in the right direction for Manasquan.
Head coach: Eric Brown, fourth season.
Career record: 30-40.
2014-2015 record: 8-12.
Assistant coaches: Jimmy Pappas, Dave Saraiva.
NJSIAA section: Central Jersey Group III.
Returning starters: Jaleel Gopaul, So., 113 (14-10); Dan Grinberg, Jr., 120 (10-11); Matt Rohrman, Jr., 126 (3-14); Derrick Wiley, Jr., 160 (21-6); Alex Pierce, Sr., 170 (17-4); Mike Cincis, Sr., 182 (7-11); Andrew Conzo, Jr., 195 (15-10).
Key newcomers: Michael Porcelli, Fr., 106; Jose Velez, So., 120 (1-3); Anthony Ferrara, Fr., 132; Always Mitchell, So., 138; E'Unique Gittens-Russell, Fr., 138; Sal Castelli, Jr., 145 (0-7); Kyle Steele, Sr., 152; Makiya Caesar, Sr., 220.
Duals to watch: Jan. 6 vs. Raritan; Jan. 11 at Red Bank; Jan. 16 at Freehold Township with Neptune/Point Beach; Feb. 3 at Long Branch.
Tournaments: Old Bridge Icebreaker, Dec. 19; East Brunswick Bear Invitational, Dec. 28.
The Huskies return seven starters under fourth-year head coach Eric Brown as they look to back their dual record back above .500 and push a trio of upperweights through to the region tournament.
Led by junior 160-pounder Derrick Wiley, Matawan brings back five wrestlers that won 10 or more bouts last season. Wiley won 21 bouts as a sophomore and is coming off a fall season where he was a key member of Matawan's football team. He starts a run through 195 pounds that will form the strength of the Huskies' lineup. Senior Alex Pierce went 17-4 last season and is at 170, and junior Andrew Conzo, a standout offensive lineman, is at 195 coming off a 15-win season. Senior Mike Cincis was 7-11 as a junior, and if he can turn that record around and get close to 15 wins it will provide the Huskies with a very solid stretch. Senior Makiya Caeser is out for the team and slated to start at 220 pounds. He was a 1,000-yard rusher for Matawan's football team and brings athleticism and a physical presence to lineup.
Sophomore Jaleel Gopaul and and junior Dan Grinberg lead a young and inexperienced lower half of the lineup that will feature five first-time varsity wrestlers.
Head coach: Shawn Brown, second season.
Career record: 9-16.
2014-2015 record: 9-16.
Assistant coach: Andrew Balina.
NJSIAA section: Central Jersey Group II.
Returning starters: Andy Villagomez, Sr., 106/113 (14-13); Luis Victoria, Sr., 120 (8-17); David Sims, Sr., 132 (2-13); Tyler Flynn, Jr., 132 (11-14); Jon Johnson, Sr., 138/145 (13-13); Eli Velez, Sr., 145 (12-16); Alex Britton, Sr., 145 (15-13); Matt Anfuso, Sr., 152/160 (9-14); Luis DeJesus, Sr., 170 (1-14); Frank Ashe, Sr., 182/195 (9-14); Matthew Orrico, Jr., 182 (4-10); Ricky Voss, So., 195/220 (6-16); Tyler Gallagher, Sr., Hwt (10-19).
Key newcomers: Brandon Warner, So, 106/113; James LaVelle, So., 126; Jean-Carlos Gratacos, So., 132; Dylan Pham, So., 138 (1-4); Matt Ruppert, Jr., 152; Patrick Nevins, So., 160/170; Skylar Martin, Sr., 170/182; Jake Winter, So., 170 (0-1); Ahmad Alsoub, So., 195; Bradley Pietz, So., Hwt; Josh Capellan, So., Hwt; Tyler Collins, Fr., Hwt; Shubham Kapoor, Sr., Hwt.
Duals to watch: Jan. 4 at Shore; Jan. 9 vs. Matawan/St. John Vianney; Feb. 1 at Point Beach.
With former Long Branch star Shawn Brown at the helm for his second season and former Green Wave teammate Andrew Balina as his assistant, the Falcons look to continue to grow the program.
Two district medalists graduated, there are a number of experienced wrestlers back to give Monmouth balance and depth. Six wrestlers that won at least 10 bouts highlight the roster, led by 15-bout winner Alex Britton, a senior, at 145 pounds. With senior Jon Johnson at 138/145, Britton and senior Eli Velez at 145 and senior Matt Anfuso at 152/160, Monmouth has a solid core in the middle of the lineup. There isn't a ton of experience up top, but there is numbers, including four heavyweights. Usually smaller schools have trouble filling out the upperweights, so having more wrestlers in the room bodes well for the Falcons. Senior heavyweight Tyler Gallagher won 10 bouts last season, and senior Frank Ashe picked up nine wins.
Senior Andy Villagomez leads the lowerweights after a 14-win junior season, and junior Tyler Flynn (11-14) has a chance to get to 15 wins . Senior Luis Victoria at 120 and senior Davis Sims at 132 are also returning starters.
With several wrestlers hovering around .500 last season there is a chance for breakout season or two among the group. That would help Monmouth battle for the No. 3 spot in the division behind Raritan and St. John Vianney and set them up for some success in the individual postseason.
Head coach: Rob Nucci, 15th season.
Career record: 300-112.
2014-2015 record: 14-9.
Assistant coaches: Rich Dunnells, Eric Pritchard, Chris Villa, Allen Mui, Kevin Daley, Dan Seidenberg, Dave Alsiuex.
NJSIAA section: Central Jersey Group II.
Returning starters: Christian Sookdeo, So., 113 (23-11); A.J. Erven, So., 120 (17-14); Russell Benson, So., 126 (28-9, 3rd D22); Jimmy Vanfechtman, Jr., 132 (16-16); Jared Lonnay, Sr., 152 (4-2, injured last Dec.); Nick Bohal, Sr., 160 (28-9, 2nd D22); Joe Stabile, Sr., 170 (5-9); Adam Bryant, Sr., 182 (4-21); Mike Gillen, Sr., 195 (7-23); Aaron Daniels, Sr., Hwt. (7-19).
Key newcomers: Robert Taddeo, So., 106; Charles Barrale, Fr., 106; Cameron Rafalko, Fr., 120; J.P. Wilder, Sr., 126 (1-1); Anthony Aqualino, Fr., 138; Andrew Bohal, So., 145 (1-2); Tom Burke, Jr., 145 (0-2); Vito Aleo, Jr., 152; Nick Polaco, So., 160; Ryan Dickens, Jr., 220 (0-1); Ethan Wolf, So., 220 (1-1).
Duals to watch: Dec. 30 at St. John Vianney; Jan. 7 at Phillipsburg; Jan. 13 at Long Branch; Jan. 16 at CBA; Feb. 3 vs. Wall; Feb. 6 at Ocean.
Tournaments: Neptune Classic, Dec. 19; Hawk Classic, Dec. 28.
Under head coach Rob Nucci, Raritan has build a reputation not just as a winner, but as a program that wins matches with balance, depth and by out-working its opponents. With some talented underclassmen and proven veterans, the Rockets will once again be in the hunt for multiple championships in 2016.
One of the Shore Conference's most reliable programs brings back three 20-bout winners and two more wresters that won 16 and 17 matches, respectively. Raritan's strength is down low with the sophomore trifecta of Christian Sookdeo, A.J. Erven and Russel Benson from 113 to 126. They are both the present and future of the Rockets, and all three could be in line for big seasons. Benson, in particular, flashed talent and toughness last year in reaching the region tournament and pulling an early upset. After winning 28 bouts as a freshman he could be among the Shore's elite and contend for a region title. Look for junior Jimmy Vanfechtman to eclipse the 20-win plateau after a 16-16 sophomore season. With promising freshmen Charles Barrale at 106 and Anthony Aqualino at 138, plus sophomore Andrew Bohal at 145, Raritan could have one of the Shore's best groups from 106 through 145.
The return of senior Jared Lonnay, who was 4-2 before an injury ended his junior season, boosts the top half of the lineup that is headlined by senior Nick Bohal. After a 28-win season and a second-place finish in the district tournament, Bohal is a candidate to break through and reach the state tournament. After Bohal there are no studs among the middle and upperweights, but returning starters Joe Stabile at 170, Adam Bryant at 182, Mike allen at 195 and Aaron Daniels at heavyweight have the potential to turn in solid seasons and will at the very least make their opponents work for every point. Keep an eye on junior 220-pounder Ryan Dickens, who had a monster season as a linebacker on the Rockets Central Jersey Group II championship football team and is a potential FBS recruit.
Raritan will be challenged by St. John Vianney, and that match comes before the new year on Dec. 30. The Rockets have won the division title in 10 of the last 11 seasons, so they remain the favorite. Outside of A Central, their schedule includes some of the best around the Shore and New Jersey with road titles at Group IV champion Phillipsburg, arch-rival Long Branch, Christian Brothers Academy, North Hunterdon, Ocean and Wall. To say the Rockets will be battle tested come February is an understatement.
Head coach: Bryan Heller, third season.
Career record: 5-34.
2014-2015 record: 5-17.
Assistant coach: Seth Herman.
NJSIAA section: Central Jersey Group III.
Returning starters: Brandon Brito, So., 113 (0-11); Chris Albert, So., 120/126 (7-11); Coleman Gould, Jr., 132 (6-18); Mike Munger, Sr., 152 (15-6); Vincent Mazzeo, Sr., 160 (8-17); Theo Addison, Jr., 182 (20-12); Jake Shea, Sr., 195 (19-13); Jack Woods, So., 220 (9-21).
Key newcomers: Jack Dey, Fr., 106; Sam Tavill, So., 120/126; Joe Sestito, Fr., 132; Nick Addison, Fr., 138; Mike Taylor, So., 145; Curtis Factor, Fr., 145; Joe Afflitto, Fr., 170; Jason Abraham, So., 170; Kevin Shields, Fr., 220; Evan Davis, Fr., 220.
Duals to watch: Dec. 22 at Red Bank Catholic; Jan. 6 vs. Red Bank; Jan. 27 vs. Donovan Catholic; Feb. 6 at Barnegat with Shore.
Tournaments: Caldwell Tournament, Dec. 19; Holmdel Holiday Tournament, Dec. 29; Buc Classic, Jan. 9.
Over the past two seasons, Rumson wrestling was again relevant thanks to the run by Marcus Iwama, who finished as the program's all-time wins leader and secured a top-eight finish in the state tournament last season. He has moved on to wrestle collegiately at Williams College, but the hope is the Bulldogs can carry any of that momentum forward.
Rumson has never been a "wrestling school", but a serious effort to bolster the feeder program should begin to pay off in the coming years. Freshmen Jack Dey, Joe Sestito, Nick Addison, Curtis Factor, Joe Afflito, Kevin Shiels and Evan Davis are the future of the program and will get to show their stuff this season.
Eight starters return to form the veteran core of the Bulldogs' lineup. Leading the way is the upperweight tandem of junior Theo Addison at 182 and senior Jake Shea at 195. Addison was 20-12 last season while Shea finished 19-13. In the middle, senior Mike Munger was a crisp 15-6 last season and will start at 152 pounds. Senior Vincent Mazzeo at 160 is also a returning starter. Sophomore Jack Woods was 9-21 as a freshman wrestling at 220, a weight that is usually junior- and senior-laden. With year to grow both physically and technically, he should be able to move closer to .500.
Junior Coleman Gould is the most experienced of the lowerweights with sophomore Chris Albert also back after wrestling in 18 bouts last season.
ST. JOHN VIANNEY
Head coach: Dennis D'Andrea, third season at SJV.
Career record at SJV: 30-15.
2014-2015 record: 16-7.
Assistant coaches: Tony Caravella, Jason Ecklof.
NJSIAA section: South Jersey, Non-Public A
Returning starters: Luke Ecklof, Jr., 106/113 (30-6, 3rd D21); Nick Moss, Jr., 120 (2-10); Dan Keough, Sr., 126/132 (6-19); Joe Vasile, Sr., 132/138 (11-17); Khalil Haskins, Sr., 145/152 (10-6, 2nd D21); Nick Caracappa, So., 152/160 (17-7); John Duffy, Jr., 160 (6-19); Steven Giannios, So., 182 (18-14); Jacob White, Sr., 195 (12-8); Seamus Coyle, Jr., 195 (2-13); Calvin Beaty, Sr., 220 (27-8, 1st D21); Micah Clarke, Jr., Hwt. (24-12, 3rd D21, 3rd R6).
Key newcomers: Jack Whalen, Jr., 106 (3-5); Padriac Smith, Fr., 120/126; Nick Ruggiero, Jr., 126; Jack McLafferty, Jr., 138/145 (23-10, 2nd D23 at Brick).
Duals to watch: Dec. 30 vs. Raritan; Jan. 16 vs. Brick; Jan. 20 vs. Wall; Feb. 3 at Jackson Memorial.
Tournaments: Mustang Classic, Dec. 28.
One of the big early-season storylines centers around whether the Lancers can beat Raritan and made a bid to win their first division title in program history. The Lancers are full of talent and experience, so if there ever was a season to make history its 2015-2016.
The Lancers can put a wrestler with varsity experience at every weight, and return one 30-bout winner, two 20-bout winners and four 10-bout winners. The top half of the lineup is where St. John Vianney is the strongest. Senior Calvin Beaty at 220 and junior Micah Clarke at heavyweight give the Lancers a big advantage at weights that aren't as deep as the middle and lower weights. Beaty was 27-8 and a district champion, while Clark navigated a tough field in the region tournament to finish third and advance to the state tournament. Clark was one of just three sophomores to reach the state tournament at heavyweight. He is know mostly as a star lineman for the Lancers football team, however, with 33 FBS offers.
Sophomores Nick Caracappa at 152/160 and Steven Giannios at 182 are both coming off solid freshman campaigns where they won 17 and 18 bouts, respectively. Senior Jacob White was 12-8 last season and could be in the 15-20 win range this season at 195 pounds. A healthy Khalil Haskins is also a major lift for the Lancers. The talented senior missed most of the regular season before returning at less than 100 percent for the individual postseason. He managed to take second in the district tournament. With a full season he has the ability to reach the state tournament. He'll be at either 145 or 152.
Junior Luke Ecklof leads the lower half of the lineup after a 30-6 sophomore season that included a trip to the region tournament in one of the Shore's deepest weight classes, 106. He'll spend time back at 106 and up at 113. A big offseason acquisition comes in the form of Brick transfer Jack McLafferty, a junior 138-/145-pounder. He was 23-10 for the Dragons last season in the meat grinder that is Class A South, and placed second in the District 23 Tournament.
The Lancers look very good on paper, but the question remains of will it translate into a win over Raritan. Not to put all SJV's eggs in one basket, but it's clearly the team's most important regular season match. The Lancers' gym will be the place to be on Dec. 30.
If everything comes together the Lancers could crash the party in South Jersey, Non-Public A where Christian Brothers Academy and St. Augustine are the favorites to reach the final. Bergen Catholic is an absolute juggernaut out of the North Jersey section, so a group title is not realistic.
When D'Andrea took over three years ago, his biggest mission was to advance more wrestlers to the region and state tournaments. St. John Vianney has had just two region champions and two state medalists in program history - Anthony Castro in 2004 and Terry Deitz in 1978. Castro and Mike Brogan were the last Lancers to reach a region final, doing so in 2004. There are several candidates to end that streak this season, so it should be fun to watch it all play out for St. John Vianney in 2016.