2015-2016 Class A North Wrestling Preview
Teams listed in alphabetical order
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS ACADEMY
Head coach: Russ Witt, fifth season
Career record: 71-22.
2014-2015 record: 19-4, second place Class A North.
Assistant coaches: Mike Baldi, Matt Butler, Mike Tomaino, Travis Torchia, Dave Santamaria.
NJSIAA section: Non-Public A.
Returning starters: Rich Koehler, So., 113 (33-6, 1st D22, 1st R6, 6th NJ); Sebastian Rivera, Sr., 120 (37-2, 1st D22, 1st R6, 5th NJ); Dylan VanSickell, Sr., 132 (34-3, 2nd D22, 3rd R6); Carl Vasti, Sr., 132/138 (14-17, 2nd D22); Ben Kuhn, Sr., 145 (12-6); Chris Koutzen, Sr., 152 (20-13, 1st D22); Garret Fitzgerald, Sr., 160 (18-15, 3rd D22); Jack LaCorte, Sr., 195 (24-9, 2nd D22); William Oxley, Sr., 220/Hwt (31-8, 2nd D22, 2nd R6).
Key newcomers: Nick Schutzenhofer, Jr., 106 (6-2); Riley Cole, Jr., 126 (1-0); Sam LaCorte, Fr., 126; Cameron DiGiorgio, So., 170; Stephan Tsarnas, Jr., 182.
Duals to watch: Jan. 2 at Hanover Park with Don Bosco Prep/Newark Academy; Jan. 7 at Howell; Jan. 16 vs. Raritan; Jan. 27 vs. Middletown North
Tournaments: CBA Colt Classic, Dec. 19; Walter Woods Tournament, Dec. 28
With eight returning starters and some big-time hammers up and down the lineup, CBA could see the program reach new heights in 2016.
The Colts' balanced lineup includes four 30-win wrestler from a season ago, including state medalists Rich Koehler and Sebastian Rivera. Those two, along with senior Dylan VanSickell, give CBA a very strong bottom half of their lineup that also includes four-year starter Carl Vasti and senior Ben Kuhn, who won 12 bouts in limited action last season.
The top half of the lineup has four returning starters with Chris Koutzen, Garret Fitzgerald, Jack LaCorte and William Oxley all returning region qualifiers. Oxley also qualified for the state tournament with a second-place finish at 220 pounds in the Region VI Tournament.
Team-wise, CBA is coming in off back-to-back District 22 titles. Prior to that, CBA's last district championship came in 1968. The Colts have never won a division title, however, so a match at 10-time defending Class A North champion Howell on Jan. 7 is obviously a huge dual. CBA's main competition in the South Jersey, Non-Public A Tournament will once again be St. Augustine, which has defeated the Colts in the last two sectional championship duals. A sectional title is almost certainly the limit for the Colts in the team postseason with 800-pound gorilla Bergen Catholic, a top-five team in the nation, the overwhelming favorite to win the overall Non-Public A title. CBA will benefit from a challenging schedule outside of A North with matches against Group II champion Hanover Park, state power Don Bosco Prep, perennial stalwart Raritan, the Jack Welch Duals and the Collingswood Duals.
The Colts have been knocking on the door of the Shore's elite for a few seasons now, so it will be interesting to see if they decide to participate in the Shore Conference Tournament. Since 2008, CBA has opted out of the SCT in every season but one (2014). With no clear-cut favorite heading into the season, the Colts are certainly in the mix to bring home the program's first SCT title.
On the individual front, Rivera, who recently signed with Northwestern, is a state title contender at 120 pounds after finishing fifth in each of the last two seasons at 106 and 113. He had a monster offseason that included winning the Super 32, and is currently ranked No. 7 in the nation by InterMat. CBA's only state champion came in 1969 when Pete Black won the 141-pound title, so it would be a historic victory if Rivera could win it all. Koehler burst onto the scene as a freshman en route to a fifth-place finish in the state tournament, as well. VanSickell is also a candidate to get on the medal stand in Atlantic City.
Head coach: Matt Shepard, 9th season (11th overall).
Career record: 68-130 (at Freehold)
2014-2015 record: 7-16
Assistant coaches: Jess Monzo, Kim Thwaits, Mike Mason.
NJSIAA section: Central Jersey Group IV
Returning starters: Noah Weiss, Jr., 126 (14-14); Bobby Meyers, So., 132 (11-19); Dom Theodosatos, Jr., 138 (17-14); Billy Theodosatos, Jr., 145 (4-19); Jerry Torres, Jr., 160 (6-21); Liam Tibet, Jr., 170 (17-17); John Downey, Jr., 182 (16-16); Kevin Hranj, Jr., 195 (10-20).
Key newcomers: Sean Neely, Jr., 120 (3-1); Jake Mostowsky, Fr., 120; Tony Dushku, Fr., 126; Lucas Staples, Jr., 132 (0-1); Brendan Connelly, Jr., 132; Jaime Cuatlatl, So., 152; Paul White, So. 152; Tom Perro, Jr., 152; Andreas Cardenas, Sr., 160 (3-5); Dan Giovinazzo, Jr., 195 (2-4); Roberto Mayo, Sr., 195; Reid Olin, Jr., 220 (1-4); Javier Cuatlatl, Jr., Hwt (1-8); Joe Petronelli, Fr., Hwt.
Duals to watch: Jan. 13 at Freehold Township; Jan. 23 vs. Colts Neck.
Tournaments: Garden State Classic, Dec. 19; Holmdel Holiday Tournament, Dec. 29; Buc Classic, Jan. 9.
The first thing that jumps out regarding the Colonials are the holes left by the graduation of five wrestlers that accounted for 112 wins last season, including district champ Colin Monahan. Freehold will enter the season without a wrestler at 106 or 113, so right away it's a tough spot for head coach Matt Shepard. There's also a logjam in the middle with six wrestlers at either 152 or 160. The numbers game hasn't been kind to the Colonials.
Juniors Noah Weiss and Dom Theodostatos anchor the lower half of the lineup with sophomore Bobby Meyers hoping to improve on the 11 wins he earned as a freshman. Most of the experience on team is among the middle and upperweights with juniors Jerry Torres, Liam Tibbett, John Downey and Kevin Hranj from 160 through 195.
With just two seniors projected to see varsity time this season, it looks like a season of rebuilding for the Colonials. They will look to be competitive in duals with teams on their level and try to push a wrestler to the District 21 Tournament with an eye on the future.
Head coach: Mike Gaeta, third season.
Career record: 23-28.
2014-2015 record: 11-14.
Assistant coaches: Walter Bayne, George Herbert, Joe Benedict.
NJSIAA section: Central Jersey Group V.
Returning starters: Kyle Cleary, So., 113 (7-22); Mike Plaska, Sr., 126 (21-6); Kyle Hillermeier, So., 138 (14-17; Mike Crawford, Sr., 145 (6-17); Nick Mangini, Sr., 152 (18-12); Taylor Larkin, Sr., 220 (15-14).
Key newcomers: Alex Alkin, So., 106; Brian Lee, Fr., 113; Brandon Pagano, Jr., 120 (1-3); Mike Cenname, So., 132 (4-4); Joe Bucciero, Sr., 160 (1-5); Mike Carlucci, Jr., 182 (1-1); Eric Quartey, So., 195 (0-3); Jacob White, So., Hwt.
Duals to watch: Jan. 2 vs. Manalapan/Marlboro/St. John Vianney; Jan. 13 at Freehold; Jan. 27 vs. Lacey.
Tournaments: TCNJ Pride Tournament, Dec. 19; Walter Woods Tournament, Dec. 28.
Graduation wasn't kind to the Patriots with five double-digit winners gone, including four 20-bout winner and district champion Nino Gagliano. Senior Mike Plaska, a 20-bout winner last season, headlines a group of returners that features a total of four wrestlers who posted over 14 wins last season.
Plaska and sophomore Kyle Hillermeier are Freehold Township's top wrestlers down low. Plaska was 21-6 last season, and although he didn't earn a postseason medal he flashed his potential with a two-point loss to 113-pound state champion Brandon Cray of Steinert and a one-point loss to Brick Memorial's Gianni Ghione, who was the 113-pound state runner-up. Improvements from sophomore Kyle Cleary at 113 and senior Mike Crawford at 145 would bolster the bottom half of the lineup.
Senior Nick Mangini had 18 wins last season, and he along with senior Taylor Larkin at 220 pounds anchor the stretch from 152 to heavyweight. Every other wrestler slated to start in the upper half aside from sophomore Jacob White at heavyweight saw time last season.
Freehold Township usually finds a way to remain competitive and seems to always have one wrestler threatening to make noise in the individual postseason. Plaska, after consecutive 20-win seasons, looks like that guy this year.
Head coach: John Gagliano, 19th season.
Career record: 355-69.
2014-2015 record: 26-2, Class A North champions.
Assistant coaches: Todd Going, Chris Provow, Jason Brandl; Volunteers: Joey Langel, Cody Fobes, Rich Famularo, Mike Verrochi, Zach Bohm, Pete Reilly.
NJSIAA section: Central Jersey Group V.
Returning starters: Kyle Slendorn, So., 120 (37-3, 1st D21, 3rd R6); Peter Dee, Jr., 126 (27-9, 3rd D21); Dan Esposito, So., 126 (14-4); Nick Ciaccia, Sr., 132 (24-9, 2nd D21); Anthony Gagliano, Sr., 138 (33-8, 3rd D21, 2nd R6); Kris Lindemann, Sr., 145 (25-10, 3rd D21, 3rd R6); Frank Leonardis, Sr., 160 (12-7); Eric Keosseian, Jr., 220 (29-13, 2nd D21, 3rd R6).
Key newcomers: Jesse Lipton, So., 106; Zach McConville, So., 106; Darby Deidrich, Fr., 113; Eric Megaro, So., 113 (4-4); Elie Orford, So., 120 (1-0); Jon Friedman, Jr., 132 (1-0); Cameron Ayesh, Sr., 138 (1-1); Nick Sulkowski, Jr., 145 (1-0); Jack Kirk, Sr., 170 (1-0); Zack Barnes, Sr., 182; Ryan Marter, Sr., 195 (2-2); Jacob Nash, Jr., Hwt (2-2).
Duals to watch: Jan. 6 at Ocean; Jan. 7 vs. CBA; Jan. 14 at Phillipsburg, Jan. 16 at Henry Boresch Duals.
Tournaments: John and Betty Vogeding Classic, Dec. 19; Mustang Classic, Dec. 28.
With six returning full-time starters, four state qualifiers and a host of new faces ready to make an impact, Howell is once again among the best teams in the Shore Conference and all of New Jersey.
The Rebels are among the teams that could start the year No. 1 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, and one look at their lineup makes it easy to see why. A program that always has a formidable group of lowerweights will once again be tough down low with sophomore Kyle Slendorn, junior Peter Dee and seniors Nick Ciacci, Anthony Gagliano and Kris Lindemann from 120 through 145. Finding quality 106 and 113 pounders has never been a problem for Howell, and the Rebels have a freshman with a ton of potential with Darby Diedrich at 113.
The area Howell needs to reload is its upperweights, but that's a statement that could be copy and pasted from every Howell preview of the last 10 years. Howell has what seems like 200 wrestler in its practice room, so the Rebels' ability to replace key cogs with newcomers is as good as any in the Shore. Junior Eric Keosseian really came on strong at the end of last season to reach the state tournament, and he should be among the Shore's best at 220 pounds this season. Frank Leonardis, who won 12 bouts last season, could end up being a very important wrestler at 160 pounds.
If there was a deed to the Class A North division it may as well reside in John Gagliano's office. Howell has won 10 straight division titles and 13 of the last 16. The Rebels will be challenged by a very good Christian Brothers Academy program, but they remain the favorite. Howell is one of those programs that has everything in play - division, Shore Conference Tournament, sectional, Group V and District 21 - as far as team championships go. They will be among the best public schools in New Jersey and will be looking to fill the one void left in their trophy case: an overall NJSIAA group championship.
Each of the six returners that reached the Region VI Tournament last season have a chance to do big things in the individual postseason. Lindemann placed sixth in the state at 132 in 2014, and Gagliano was one win away from a top-eight finish last season. Slendorn faded a bit down the stretch last season but should be even better as a sophomore.
Head coach: Scott Pressman, ninth season.
Career record: 193-109.
2014-2015 record: 16-12.
Assistant coaches: Frank O'Shea, James Somma.
NJSIAA section: Central Jersey Group V.
Returning starters: A.J. Sortino, So., 113 (16-15); Mike Goebel, Jr., 126 (10-20); Joe Hamias, Sr., 126 (2-18); Anthony Coposky, So., 132 (14-17); Matt Mustillo, Jr., 138 (10-17); Nick Coposky, Sr., 145 (13-20); Ronny Ghiada, Jr., 152 (20-10); Joe Thompson, Sr., 160 (11-7); Justin Obermeyer, Jr., 170 (10-15); Jake Staklinski, Jr., 182 (18-15); Joe Marano, Sr., 195 (20-12).
Key newcomers: Paul Santamarco, Fr., 106; Matt Miello, Fr., 106; Alex Baran, Fr., 120; Massimo Mille, Jr., 120 (6-6 at Franklin); Andrew Keller, Fr., 138; Andrew Burstyn, So., 152 (1-3); Stephen Byrne, Jr., 170; Peter Benedetti, So., 220 (2-1); Trevor Radosevich, So., 220; Richie Peters, Fr., Hwt.
Duals to watch: Jan. 2 at Freehold Township with Marlboro/St. John Vianney; Jan. 9 at Brick with Lacey; Jan. 20 vs. Colts Neck; Jan. 30 at Freehold with Middletown North.
Tournaments: Nottingham Tournament, Dec. 19; Walter Woods Tournament, Dec. 28.
The Braves graduated their three top wrestlers from last season, including state medalist Jake Kaminsky, and lost 122 wins and five starters to graduation. The good news is that 10 wrestlers that won 10 or more matches return to give Manalapan plenty of experience.
Sophomore A.J. Sortino is coming off a solid freshman year where he earned 16 wins and will be at 113 pounds. If Mike Goebel, Anthony Coposky, Matt Mustillo and Nick Coposky, each of whom won over 10 bouts last season but finished under .500, can reverse their records it would be a major boost to the lower half of the lineup.
Up top, junior Ronny Ghiada at 152 and senior Joe Marano at 195 are the returning wins leaders with 20 each last season. Senior Joe Thompson was 11-7 in limited action, Justin Obermeyer won 10 bouts, and Jake Staklinski picked up 18 wins as a sophomore. Like the four wrestlers down low, improvements by all three would solidify the lineup.
Class A North looks like a two-team race with Howell and CBA, but with steady improvement across the board Manalapan could challenge Middletown North as for the No. 3 spot in the division. The fact that the dual with the Lions is later in the season bodes well the Braves. Qualifying for the sectional tournament isn't out of the question, either.
There are no wrestlers on the roster that earned district medals last season, but plenty of candidates for advancement to the region tournament, led by Sortino, Ghiada, Staklinski and Marano.
Head coach: Will Werntz, 14th season.
2014-2015 record: 12-12.
Assistant coaches: William Terrell, Keith Masi.
NJSIAA section: Central Jersey Group V.
Returning starters: Alan Lipovetsky, So., 120 (13-7); Jared Sheinwald, Jr., 126 (8-17); Shane Mullan, Sr., 132 (18-6, 3rd D21); Mike Doukas, Jr., 138 (24-10); Mike DeFaria, Jr., 145/152 (24-6); Brian Fardman, Sr., 182 (6-10); Max Wolfson, Jr., Hwt. (2-15).
Key newcomers: Tom Vasti, Fr., 106; Chris Rial, Fr., 113; Scott Bayer, So., 120 (2-2); Evan Wolf, So., 145 (0-6); Zach Sperling, So., 152/160 (3-7); Logan Seegram, Jr., 160/170 (0-3); Elijah Azaraev, So., 220.
Duals to watch: Jan. 2 at Freehold Township with Manalapan/St. John Vianney; Jan. 6 vs. Middletown North.
Tournaments: Robin Leff Invitational, Dec. 19; Hawk Classic, Dec. 28.
Despite graduating three district medalists that formed the nucleus of the team last season, Marlboro returns enough talent to have it competing at its usual level of respectability.
Juniors Mike Doukas and Mike DeFaria and senior Shane Mullan are the core of the Mustangs in 2016. Mullan was a district medalist last season and the trio combined for 66 wins. DeFaria had a notable win over Howell's Kris Lindemann last season.
Sophomore Alan Lipovetsky posted 13 wins as a freshman, so an improvement to the 20-win mark would be a step in the right direction and a boost to an already-solid group of lowerweights. If junior Jared Sheinwald can turn around his record and the freshmen tandem of Tom Vasti and Chris Rial come out of the gates strong, Marlboro's lower half could carry it to a very good season.
If DeFara is at 152 he is clearly the anchor of the top half of the lineup. There isn't a lot of experience among the group as just Brian Fardman and Max Wolfson had over 10 bouts last season.
With some improvement and contributions from first-year starters, Marlboro has the chance to finish as high as third in Class A North and push for a spot in the sectional tournament. Mullan will look to build on his district third-place finish last season and work toward a spot on the Region VI medal stand, while DeFaria and Doukas have the potential to make deep postseason runs, as well.
Head coach: Matt Sirchio, 10th season.
Career record: 108-104.
2014-2015 record: 18-6.
Assistant coaches: Matt Rosner, Joe Marotta, Jon Pecyna.
NJSIAA section: North Jersey Section 2, Group IV.
Returning starters: Sean Deering, Jr., 113 (23-11, 2nd D22); Jon Provenzano, So., 113 (14-10); Stanley Wodjylak, So., 132 (21-11); Jack Van Sant, Sr., 132 (12-15); Eddie Walz, Sr., 138 (12-10); Nicholas Cofone, So., 152/160 (9-19); Thomas Anderson, Jr., 170 (21-11); Anthony Vetrano, Sr., 182/195 (33-5, 1st D22, 4th R6); Chad Freshnock, Sr., 195/220 (23-3, 1st D22, 1st R6).
Key newcomers: Mike Deigrasso, Fr., 126/132; Nate Pujols, Fr., 126/132; Joey Cavanagh, Fr., 132/138, Jacob Anderson, Fr., 145; Brian Winz, Jr., 170/182 (3-5); Brian Ruane, Sr., 195 (5-3); Austin Dewise, So., 220/Hwt; Ray Nelson, Jr., Hwt.
Duals to watch: Jan. 9 vs. Ocean/Hopewell Valley/Roxbury; Jan. 13 vs. Middletown South; Jan. 20 at Howell; Jan. 27 vs. CBA.
Tournaments: Mount Olive Tournament, Dec. 19; Mustang Classic, Dec. 28.
A steady rise of the program under Matt Sirchio has the Lions coming off three straight seasons of at least 17 dual wins, and with nine starters returning Middletown North has a chance to turn in one of its best seasons ever.
Returning region champion Chad Freshnock and region fourth-place finisher Anthony Vetrano, both seniors, are the heart of a Middletown North lineup that features five 20-bout winners and three more that earned 10 or more wins last season. There's talent and experience throughout the roster that will provide crucial balance, which the Lions will need against a very tough schedule.
Junior Sean Deering and sophomore Stanley Wodjylak anchor the lower half of the lineup at 113 and 132, respectively. Double-digit winners Jon Provenzano, Jack Van Sant and Eddie Walz give the Lions a solid foundation from 113 to 138. The Lions currently don't have a 106-pounder, however, and both Deering and Provenzano are slotted at 113. It will be interesting to see how the weights shake out.
Vetrano and Freshnock give Middletown North one of the best one-two punches in the Shore, and junior Thomas Anderson at 170 gives the Lions a great run up top. The versatility of Vetrano and Freshnock to wrestle up a weight will give head coach Matt Sirchio some maneuverability so teams can't bump away with as much ease.
Even with a very solid team, the Lions are behind the eight ball with Howell and CBA in Class A North and overall Group IV champion Phillipsburg in their state section. They would have to pull several upsets in each of those matches to pull out a win.
On the individual front, Freshnock became Middletown North's first region champion in 11 years when he won the 220-pound title last season. He finished two wins short of a medal in the state tournament and has a chance to become the Lions' first state medalist since 2010. Vetrano finished fourth in the region tournament last season to narrowly miss out on a trip to Atlantic City, so he will surely be motivated to get to the state tournament in his senior season.
Head coach: Dan Ling, third season.
Career record: 21-29.
2014-2015 record: 8-17.
Assistant coaches: Brian Stevens, Anton Atterbury.
NJSIAA section: North Jersey Section 2, Group IV.
Returning starters: Hugh MacLellan, So., 113 (6-25); Danny Ward, So., 126 (10-21); Will McCauley, Jr., 138 (10-15); Dylan Murphy, Sr., 138 (3-12); Justin Weimer, So., 145 (10-13); Louis Avena, Sr., 160 (15-12); Brendan Rumsby, Sr., 170 (16-10); Jack Hardzewicz, So., 182 (6-10); Rob Hulse, Sr., 195 (10-17); Steven Walling, Jr., 195 (4-15); Sean Killeen, Sr., 220 (18-17, 2nd D22); Adam Markmann, So., Hwt (7-16).
Key newcomers: Devon Slavin, Fr., 106; A.J. Vega, Fr., 113; Dakota Pizzola, Fr., 120; Troy Burbank, Fr., 132; Alex Asfar, Sr., 152; Christian DeSanctis, Sr., 152; Mike West, Sr., 160; Joe Carlo, Sr., 170 (1-2); Graham Connett, Sr., 182.
Duals to watch: Jan. 13 at Middletown North; Jan. 16 at Freehold with Marlboro/Keansburg; Feb. 3 vs. Manalapan.
Tournaments: Old Bridge Icebreaker, Dec. 19; Walter Woods Tournament, Dec. 28.
Experience is on the Eagles' side with 12 returning starters for what they hope is a bounce-back season.
Senior 220-pounder Sean Killeen leads the way after a second-place finish in in the district tournament. The upper half of Middletown South's lineup also features seniors Louis Avena and Brendan Rumsby at 160 and 170, as well as 10-bout winner Rob Hulse at 195. There are no records that jump off the page, but a year of seasoning could have four to five wrestlers from 152 to heavyweight approach 20 wins.
Three 10-bout winners from last season are in the lower half with sophomore Danny Ward at 126, junior Will McCauley at 138 and sophomore Justin Weimer at 145. Sophomore Hugh MacLellan took his lumps as a freshman, but gained valuable experience with 31 bouts.
The Eagles have a tough Class A North schedule that includes Howell, CBA and Middletown North, plus nondivisional matches against Brick, Ocean, St. John Vianney, Lacey and Point Boro, but the chance is still there to improve on last seasons 8-17 dual record. Killeen is looking to push deeper into the individual postseason, while Avena and Rumsby are also candidates to advance to the region tournament.