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The year was 2008 when the Shore Conference took Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall by storm.

During a magical Sunday afternoon in March, the Shore Conference set a record with seven individual state champions - half the weight classes - in a display of dominance that is still talked about in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Jackson Memorial's Tyler Biscaha at 103, Howell's Joey Langel at 112, Toms River East's Vinnie DelleFave at 119, Jackson Memorial's Sean Byrnes at 145, Ocean's Nick Menditto at 152, Jackson Memorial's Scott Winston at 160, and Manchester's Jimmy Lawson at heavyweight all won state titles,

The Shore Conference, which at the time was entirely within Region 6, also had five additional state finalists with Ocean's Mike Berardesco at 112, Brick Memorial's Steve Santos at 145, Raritan's Dan Seidenberg at 171, Southern's Glenn Carson at 215, and Howell's Harry Turner at heavyweight. Of the 28 state finalists, 12 of them were from the Shore. At the time, with all our teams in Region 6, we sent 42 total wrestlers to Atlantic City. When the dust settled, 21 of them stood on the podium as state medalists.

That 2008 season remains the gold standard for Shore Conference wrestling at the state tournament.

So why the history lesson? Other than the fact that it's fun, there is a realistic chance that history could repeat itself this weekend.

Now, this isn't me saying we are going to have seven state champions again. It's unlikely simply because there are so many great wrestlers in every bracket, but it's possible. In fact, if it does happen it won't be because of any wild upsets. At 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 150, 165, and 175, the Shore Conference has at least one wrestler seeded in the top four, including the No. 1 seeds at 120, 138, 165, and 175, and the No. 2 seeds at 120 and 132.

Outside of the championship contenders, there's a boatload of wrestlers who can, and some who absolutely should, have a spot on the podium come Saturday evening. Am I being a homer? Maybe a little, but the reasons for optimism are valid.

The year before the Magnificent Seven won their state titles, it was the Fab 5 of Toms River North's Matt Oliver, Southern's Frank Molinaro, Menditto, Winston, and Jackson Memorial's Ken Carney. Last season, the Shore Conference also had five state champions. Just saying.

With that, here's our Shore Conference-centric weight-by-weight preview of the 2022 NJSIAA State Championships.

 

READ MORE: Brackets, breakdown of returning medalists, schedule

 

106

Top Four Seeds

1-Adrian DeJesus, Fr., St. Peter's Prep (20-3)

2-Logan Wadle, Jr., North Hunterdon (27-6)

3-Patrick O'Keefe, Fr., St. John Vianney (31-6)

4-Aidan Carmody, Jr., Livingston (27-6)

Shore Conference qualifiers

3-Patrick O'Keefe, Fr., St. John Vianney (31-6)

5-Kurt Wehner, So., Donovan Catholic (18-0)

12-Tyler Venet, So., CBA (25-8)

13-Brady Klinsky, So., Middletown North (27-6)

14-Jason Seda, So., Jackson Memorial (34-4)

23-Michael DiBiase, Fr., Wall (26-7)

26-Joey DeAngelo, Fr., Point Boro (27-8)

Shore Shots

O'Keefe has been one of the state's best at 106 pounds all season and is a sure-fire state title contender. He has six losses but all of them have come at high-level tournaments: Beast of the East, Sam Cali Invitational, Escape the Rock. He is 1-1 with Livingston's Aidan Carmody, falling by a 3-0 decision and winning by a 3-1 decision. He lost 3-2 to St. Peter's Prep freshman Adrian DeJesus, so he's right there with the top-seeded wrestler in the bracket. He could meet Hunterdon Central's Anthony Rossi in the quarterfinals and he's already defeated Ross in both the district and region finals. The anticipated semifinals match would be against North Hunterdon's Logan Wadle, whom he defeated, 5-3, during the season. Assuming both win their first bouts, a very intriguing bout between Wehner and Venet will happen in the pre-quarterfinals on Thursday night. Wehner is unbeaten and Venet has been on a tear of late. Both enter as region champions. Klinsky would face Carmody in the pre-quarterfinals while Seda would get O'Keefe in the pre-quarterfinals. Both DiBiase and DeAngelo have very tough roads in front of them being seeded in the 20s.

 

113

Top Four Seeds

1-Daniel Jones, So., Delbarton (29-3)

2-Jeffrey Jacome, Sr., South Plainfield (31-0)

3-Jared Brunner, Sr., Eastern (25-2)

4-Anthony Knox, Fr., St. John Vianney (28-1)

Shore Conference qualifiers

4-Anthony Knox, Fr., St. John Vianney (28-1)

10-Xavier Ortega, Fr., Howell (33-5)

11-Brady Carter, Sr., Lacey (14-3)

14-Ryan Dubnik, So., Freehold Township (34-4)

18-Dezmond Lenaghan, Fr., Donovan Catholic (26-4)

19-Lawrence Liss, So., Matawan (29-4)

23-Frankie Burgio, Fr., Point Boro (28-4)

Shore Shots

He may be seeded fourth, but Knox could certainly be considered the favorite. Being a freshman without prior postseason criteria often leads to being under-seeded and that is the case with Knox, who is ranked No. 2 in the nation at 113 sounds. The fact that he is in the top bracket adds even more intrigue because it sets up a likely semifinal matchup with Jones, who was last season's 106-pound state champion. Knox stated his goal was to go undefeated in high school, and although that went out the window when he lost at the Escape the Rock Tournament, his goal of winning four state titles is still alive and the quest begins this weekend. He is the only Shore wrestler in the top bracket. Ortega could certainly make a run to the quarterfinals where he would likely face Jacome. Carter making a run to a medal would be a great story. He had a promising freshman season as a region runner-up but injuries have derailed his career since. A spot on the podium would be a great bookend to his career. Dubnik and Liss wrestle each other right away so one of them will be bounced to the wrestlebacks while the other will almost certainly get Brunner, a two-time state medalist, in the pre-quarterfinals. Lenaghan has a very winnable opening bout but would get Jacome in the next round. Burgio will wrestle Ortega, the Region 6 champion, in the opening round.

 

120

Top Four Seeds

1-Conor Collins, Jr., Southern (32-0)

2-Alex Nini, So., CBA (27-2)

3-Evan Tallmadge, Sr., Brick Memorial (28-3)

4-Nico Calello, Sr, St. Joseph (Metuchen) (35-1)

Shore Conference qualifiers

1-Conor Collins, Jr., Southern (32-0)

2-Alex Nini, So., CBA (27-2)

3-Evan Tallmadge, Sr., Brick Memorial (28-3)

10-Sebastian Ortega, So., Howell (23-5)

16-Jake Zaltsman, Fr., St. John Vianney (23-8)

20-Ryan Mansueto, Jr., Raritan (28-8)

27-Jonathan Espinosa, So., Jackson Memorial (26-14)

Shore Shots

Arguably the best weight in the tournament, it's certainly the deepest with a whopping 10 returning state medalists. The Shore Conference is well-represented with seven qualifiers, four returning medalists, and the top three seeds in the bracket. The odds of a Shore Conference champion here are very high. With all due respect to Calello, who was third in the state at 106 last season, I'd bet highly the state title comes down to Collins vs. Tallmadge or Collins vs. Nini. Tallmadge won last season's 113-pound state title with a wild 8-7 tiebreaker win over Collins. The Southern junior got revenge this year with a 3-2 victory during the regular season. Tallmadge defeated Nini, 2-1 in tiebreaker during the regular season before Nini returned the favor with a 4-3 win in tiebreaker in the Region 6 final. Tallmadge-Nini 3 in the semifinals should be dramatic and a Collins-Calello semifinal would also be great. The one wrestler who could crash the party is Stanich, who is undefeated and a two-time state medalist. He and Calello should make for an excellent quarterfinal bout. Ortega was fifth in the state at 113 last season and is in line to have a tough bout with Mount Olive's Jack Bastarrika in the pre-quarterfinals. Two wins on Thursday would set him up for a Friday morning showdown with Nini, who has defeated him twice this season after Ortega beat him twice last year. Zaltsman is in a tough spot as the 16 seed and will have to face Collins in the second round on Thursday night. Mansueto gets St. Joseph (Montvale) stud freshman Donny Almeyda in the first round and Espinosa faces Camden Catholic standout Jackson Young, whom Collins beat 6-3 in the Region 7 final, in the first round.

 

126

Top Four Seeds

1-Evan Mougalian, Sr., Kinnelon (29-1)

2-Caedyn Ricciardi, Fr., St. Peter's Prep (33-9)

3-Garrett Totten, Sr., CBA (32-5)

4-Jack Zaleski, Jr., Middletown South (30-5)

Shore Conference qualifiers

3-Garrett Totten, Sr., CBA (32-5)

4-Jack Zaleski, Jr., Middletown South (30-5)

8-Wyatt Stout, Fr., Southern (33-1)

11-Joe Giordano, Jr., St. John Vianney (23-8)

13-Sawyer Ostroff, So., Howell (22-11)

14-James Farina, So., Ocean (25-5)

25-Angelo Messina, Jr., Freehold (30-4)

26-Mason Livio, Jr., Pinelands (31-5)

Shore Shots

The clear favorite is Mougalian, a 2020 state champ and a 2021 state runner-up who is 39-1 with his only loss coming to Blair Academy's Matthew Lopes in the Beast of the East final. This guy's pretty good. Totten is a two-time state seventh-place finisher but Ricciardi jumped him for the No. 2 seed based on a 3-1 head-to-head win during the season. Zaleski is also a two-time state medalist, finishing fifth as a freshman at 106 and fourth as a sophomore at 120. Totten defeated him, 3-1, during the season. If the seeds hold, Totten has a chance to avenge that loss and reach the state finals while Zaleski can get another crack at Mougalian after losing to him by fall in last year's state semifinals. Zaleski would first have to beat Bergen Catholic standout Aidan Wallace in the quarterfinals. Bracket busters lurk in several spots, however, led by Stout as the No. 8 seed. His path is treacherous, to say the least, with Kingsway's Nathan Taylor as his likely pre-quarterfinal bout with the winner in line to wrestle Mougalian in the quarterfinals. Stout's only loss is a 1-0 defeat to Phillipsburg's James Day. He will wrestle Messina in the opening round. Ostroff had a phenomenal Region 6 Tournament to finish second and earn the No. 13 seed. He'll try to win his opening bout to set up a pre-quarterfinal bout vs. Zaleski. It's not out of the question that Giordano wins his first two bouts to set up a quarterfinal rematch with Totten, who defeated him 4-3 during the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals. If Farina can win a tough opening bout with Westfield''s Ethan Composto he will wrestle Totten in the pre-quarterfinals. Livio's prize for his fourth-place finish in Region 8 is a first-round matchup with Day. His path is brutal because even if he scores an upset there he'll have to face two-time state medalist Joe Manno in the pre-quarterfinals.

 

132

Top Four Seeds

1-Tyler Vazquez, Jr., Delbarton (28-0)

2-Anthony Santaniello, Jr., Brick Memorial (31-1)

3-Ryan Ford, So., Bergen Catholic (25-4)

4-Aaron Kurzer, Sr., Montville (26-3)

Shore Conference qualifiers

2-Anthony Santaniello, Jr., Brick Memorial (31-1)

5-Nico Diaz, Sr., St. John Vianney (33-5)

12-Phil Stolfa, Sr., Red Bank (35-3)

16-Vincent DePierro, Jr., Manalapan (24-2)

17-Gabe Scalise, Sr., Shore (42-3)

23-Hayden Hochstrasser, Fr., Southern (22-5)

24-Kieran Bruen, Jr., Howell (25-12)

25-Braden Kmak, Jr., Raritan (30-8)

26-Joe Dolci, So., Toms River North (24-7)

Shore Shots

We're going to keep this one short and to the point. It would be shocking if the state final wasn't Vazquez vs. Santaniello. The two met in the Beast of the East final with Vazquez earning a 6-5 win. It was just the second career loss for Santaniello to go along with his loss in the 2020 106-pound state final. He was last season's 120-pound state champion. To say the Brick Memorial star has been focused on a rematch with Vazquez would be a massive understatement. It has consumed him and driven his utter dominance since the first weekend of the season. Vazquez, who is a two-time third-place finisher is undefeated. Bergen Catholic's Ryan Ford is the only other returning state medalist (third at 113) in the bracket. Diaz is now a four-time state qualifier and it would be great to see him end his career on the podium. Can he beat Kurzer? Because that is what it will likely take to read the state semifinals and guarantee at least a top-six finish. Stolfa is in line to face Diaz in the pre-quarterfinals and he has some ground to make up after being majored, 15-6, in the Region 5 final. Red Bank has just two state medalists in program history: Ashon Lovick in 1996 and Lamar Brown in 2006. It would be a storybook ending for Stolfa, who is the program's all-time wins leader, to end the 16-year drought. DePierro and Scalise will meet in the first round with the winner to get Vazquez next. Talk about a tough draw. Scalise is one to watch because his 42 wins are the most of anyone in the tournament and his losses have come to Stolfa and Santaniello (twice). The seeds for Hochstrasser, Bruen, Kmak, and Dolci are not favorable so those four will need to pull some upsets to compete for a spot on the podium.

 

138

Top Four Seeds

1-Julian George, Jr., CBA (33-3)

2-Joe Cangro, Sr., Bergen Catholic (22-4)

3-Alex Almeyda, Sr., St. Joseph (Montvale) (24-6)

4-Robert Generelli, Sr., Middletown South (28-4)

Shore Conference qualifiers

1-Julian George, Jr., CBA (33-3)

4-Robert Generelli, Sr., Middletown South (28-4)

5-Zach Reilley, So., Raritan (31-3)

6-Matt Henrich, So., Southern (28-3)

12-Giovanni Scafidi, So., Howell (22-9)

18-Braden Scott, Sr., Brick Memorial (25-10)

25-Tyler Russ, So., Colts Neck (20-5)

Shore Shots

George and Cangro split bouts during the season but George earned the No. 1 seed because his win, a 5-4 decision during the Non-Public A final, is the most recent. Obviously, he is a major state title contender and a heavy favorite to reach the final. The top bracket is the place to be unless you have to wrestle George. A potential quarterfinal between Generelli and Reilley would be the third meeting in the last three weeks. Generelli won both the District 20 and the Region 5 titles with victories over Reilley. There could also be a rematch in the pre-quarterfinals between Reilley and Scafidi as the former won their matchup during the Shore Conference Tournament. Henrich is going to be a tough out. He is very solid in all positions and his length gives his opponents a lot of trouble. I expect him to outwrestle his seed and earn a top-five state medal. Scott can win his first bout before running into Cangro on Thursday night, while Russ has plenty of work in front of him as the 25 seed.

 

144

Top Four Seeds

1-Ty Whalen, Sr., Clearview (29-2)

2-Cross Wasilewski, Jr., Delbarton (31-4)

3-Joe Fongaro, Sr., Boonton (36-1)

4-Ken Sherman, Sr., Holy Spirit (28-7)

Shore Conference qualifiers

8-David Hussey, Jr., Middletown South (31-5)

9-Donovan DiStefano, So., Wall (24-0)

15-Jake Rosenthal, Sr., Toms River North (27-4)

20-Kael Huxford, So., Jackson Memorial (30-7)

22-Cole Stangle, Fr., St. John Vianney (26-10)

Shore Shots

This is the first weight where, realistically, we are talking about medal contenders rather than state title contenders. Hussey is the highest seed among the Shore Conference's five qualifiers at 144 and he has the toughest first-round bout of any No. 8 seed with Camden Catholic standout senior Chase Casey sitting at the 25 seed because of an injury that resulted in a fourth-place finish in Region 7. DiStefano is undefeated and will either have Hussey or Casey in the second round. And the winner gets Whalen in the quarterfinals on Friday morning. Rosenthal has a very tough opening matchup against Gloucester City's Jacob Zearfoss, an NJ native who moved to Georgia for one year and finished third in the 7A state tournament. That winner's prize is Wasilewski, who was fifth at 126 last season. Being seeded in the 20s leaves a steep hill for Stangle and Huxford to climb and their work will have to be done in the wrestlebacks.

 

150

Top Four Seeds

1-Andrew Troczynski, Sr., Delbarton (32-1)

2-Laith Hamdeh, Sr., Passic Tech (34-1)

3-Tyler Barrett, Jr., CBA (32-6)

4-Damian Weaver, Jr., Lyndhurst (27-1)

Shore Conference qualifiers

3-Tyler Barrett, Jr., CBA (32-6)

16-Cole Velardi, Jr., Southern (31-3)

17-Ryan Smith, Sr., Brick Memorial (31-4)

20-Alex Quintano, Sr., Middletown South (24-14)

22-Nick Benner, Sr., Ocean (20-4)

27-Jack Thompson, Jr., Point Boro (29-4)

Shore Shots

Barrett,  Velardi, and Smith have been the top three 150-pounders in the Shore all season and the drop-off after those three is considerable. The same can be said in terms of the seeds, but there's even a sizeable gap between Barrett and Velardi and Smith. After not qualifying for the state tournament last season, Barrett is back after winning his second region title, 3-2 over Smith, in Region 6. Barrett has a deliberate style and wrestles a good number of low-scoring bouts are there are two schools of thought regarding that: either he doesn't have enough offense to beat the top guys or that he knows how to win bouts when sometimes one takedown is all that is scored. We're going to find out, but I'll say this, being able to win tight isn't a bad thing in Boardwalk Hall. Barrett already has two one-point wins over Smith and a win in ultimate tiebreaker over the No. 6 seed, St. Joseph's Frank DiBella. Velardi and Smith will wrestle against each other in the first round with the winner lined up to face Troczynski. Velardi defeated Smith, 2-0, during the regular season. Quintano, Benner, and Thompson have tough bouts right out of the gate as 20-plus seeds.

 

157

Top Four Seeds

1-Simon Ruiz, Jr., Delberton (28-1)

2-Dakota Morris, Sr., Kingsway (32-3)

3-Tanner Peake, Sr., Hunterdon Central (37-4)

4-Zander Silva, Jr., CBA (28-4)

Shore Conference qualifiers

4-Zander Silva, Jr., CBA (28-4)

9-Jasiah Queen, Jr., St. John Vianney (19-2)

11-Shane Cartagena-Walsh, Sr., Ocean (20-2)

13-Joe McCullough, Sr., Toms River East (25-2)

21-Nick Acque, Sr., Howell (27-7)

29-Joe Berryman, Jr., Freehold (25-10)

Shore Shots

The Shore's two highest seeds, Silva and Queen, both have very tough draws from the 4 and 9 spots, respectively. Silva could wrestle McCullough in the pre-quarterfinals and then Westfield standout Michael Murphy in the quarterfinals. All that to get a shot at the top seed, Ruiz. Run that gauntlet and he'd still have to get through either Morris or Peake. Nobody ever said winning a New Jersey state title was easy. Queen vs. Old Bridge's Tyler Sagi is a very intriguing round-of-16 bout and the winner then has to wrestle Ruiz on Friday morning. Cartagena-Walsh isn't in a bad spot as the No. 11 seed. He is a big, tall 157-pounder who I can see winning both his matches on Thursday night. As for all wrestlers seeded in the 20s, the draw for both Acque and Berryman is unforgiving.

 

165

Top Four Seeds

1-Hunter Mays, Sr., Howell (35-1)

2-Nicholas Fea, Sr., Bergen Catholic (26-1)

3-Eric Freeman, Sr., Paramus (34-1)

4-Louis Cerchio, So., Delbarton (34-3)

Shore Conference qualifiers

1-Hunter Mays, Sr., Howell (35-1)

15-Nick Stump, Sr., CBA (24-7)

17-Ryan Boyer, Jr., Rumson-Fair Haven (25-9)

18-Jimmy Circle, Sr., Lacey (30-7)

19-Brandon Smith, Sr., Freehold (25-10)

26-Ford Zajac, Sr., Colts Neck (30-8)

Shore Shots

Mays was last season's 160-pound state champion and thus earns the No. 1 seed since his only loss this season was out-of-state. There is a ton of intrigue and anticipation at this weight because of the presence of Bergen Catholic senior Nick Fea. A transfer to BC from Wyoming Seminary, Fea defeated Blair Academy's Lorenzo Norman 7-5 in sudden victory in the Powerade final after Norman beat Mays, 2-0, in the semifinals. Those two appear on a collision course but Freeman and Cerchio will have their say in the semifinals. I just don't see anyone getting in the way of those four. Stump and Circle will wrestle each other in the first round and the winner gets Fea on Thursday night. Boyer will try to avenge a 3-2 loss to Hunterdon Central's Thomas Brunetti from the Region 5 semifinals. A win there would bring him one step closer to a medal but also match him up with Mays in the pre-quarterfinals. For both Smith and Zajac, very tough opponents are on tap immediately.

 

175

Top Four Seeds

1-Shay Addison, Sr., Rumson-Fair Haven (33-1)

2-Sabino Portella, Jr., Red Bank Catholic (23-1)

3-Michael Dellegatta, Sr., St. Joseph (Montvale) (32-3)

4-Justin Onello, Jr., Bergen Catholic (28-5)

Shore Conference qualifiers

1-Shay Addison, Sr., Rumson-Fair Haven (33-1)

2-Sabino Portella, Jr., Red Bank Catholic (23-1)

7-Harvey Ludington, Fr., Brick Memorial (29-1)

10-DJ Henry, Jr., Howell (25-3)

17-Anthony Lawrence, Jr., CBA (14-4)

20-Matt Bryant, Sr., Manchester (23-3)

24-Jack Reiter, Sr., Middletown South (23-14)

Shore Shots

After finishing second in the state at 170 pounds last season, Portella has been the favorite at 175 for most of the season. That all changed after the Region 5 final when Addison scored the tying takedown just before the third-period buzzer and then secured the winning takedown in sudden victory for a 5-3 comeback win. Now, Addison is the No. 1 seed and Portella is the No. 2 seed. Rumson and RBC are bitter rivals in every sport but the wrestling rivalry never really had any teeth. Now it does, and potentially with the highest of stakes. Rumson has never had a state champion or a state finalist. RBC's only state champion was Tom Seitz in 1974. An Addison vs. Portella state final would be electric. Both will have heavy lifting to do just to reach the center mat. Addison is looking at a semifinal match with either Onello or Delsea's Jared Schoppe, the latter of whom handed Addison his only loss of the season, 5-1, during opening weekend. A quarterfinal bout with Mount Olive's Hunter Perez would be no picnic, either. The potential roadblock for Portella is Ludington. The standout Brick Memorial freshman has been dominant at a weight usually controlled by upperclassmen. In fact, he is the only freshman in the field at 175 and one of just three underclassmen. Ludington has only one loss on the season and he avenged it with a victory over Mount Olive's Hunter Perez during the Group 4 final. He pinned Henry in the Region 6 final and is in line to face him again in the pre-quarterfinals. Ludington is going to medal, the question is how high. Can he win it all? He's certainly in the conversation. He has the look of a wrestler that people need to be now before he puts it all together. Lawrence has a tough bout with St. Augustines Trey Mcleer with the winner moving on to face Addison. Bryant faces Delbarton's Vincent Lee to start things off and Reiter wrestles Livingston's Stratos Kantanas, the Region 3 champion. I think the Shore gets four state medals at 175.

 

190

Top Four Seeds

1-Brian Soldano, Sr., High Point (33-0)

2-Remy Brancato, Sr., Bergen Catholic (28-4)

3-Alex Uryniak, Jr., North Hunterdon (31-3)

4-Danny DiGiovacchino, Jr., Delsea (35-3)

Shore Conference qualifiers

7-Hudson Skove, So., Rumson-Fair Haven (34-2)

12-Jared Tracey, Sr., Ocean (25-1)

16-Mike Malucelli, Sr., Marlboro (28-2)

20-Jamie Mazzacco, Sr., Shore Regional (29-4)

21-Matt Coon, Jr., Lacey (31-6)

24-Mike Rauch, Sr., Jackson Memorial (24-9)

25-Luke DuPont, Sr., Holmdel (31-4)

28-Cory Martin, Sr., Brick Memorial (22-11)

Shore Shots

Two words: Brian. Soldano. The High Point superstar is the heavy favorite in the bracket and has a chance to go down in history as the 34th wrestler all-time to win three state titles. Brancato is an excellent wrestler in his own right and is a returning state finalist. That being said, it would be stunning if Soldano doesn't win his third championship. Brancato is the likely foil to reach the final out of the bottom bracket, but don't count out Skove. The latest standout from the legendary wrestling family, Skove is 34-2 with both of those losses coming at the Beast of the East. He is strong and technical and will be a dangerous opponent for Brancato in the quarterfinals. Tracey has a shot to get on the podium from the No. 12 seed. He faces Coon in the opening round and would then likely face Middle Township standout David Giulian. Along with Coon, Mazzacco, Rauch, DuPont, and Martin are all seeded 20th or lower and we know what kind of path lies ahead for them. Not impossible, but very difficult in every round.

 

215

Top Four Seeds

1-Martin Cosgrove, Sr., Camden Catholic (19-0)

2-P.J. Casale, Sr., Passaic Valley (24-0)

3-AJ Fricchione, Jr., Bergen Catholic (24-7)

4-Dominic Petracci, Sr., Washington Township (33-3)

Shore Conference qualifiers

5-Robert Canterino, Jr., CBA (31-4)

9-Nick Burns, Sr., Raritan (34-2)

18-Jake Klein, Jr., Jackson Liberty (25-6)

21-Cosmo Zaccaro, Jr., Central (35-3)

27-Riley O'Boyle, Jr., Southern (26-7)

Shore Shots

The Shore's best shot for a semifinalist and a guaranteed top-six medal is Canterino, who has enjoyed a breakout season for the Colts. He has wrestled better and better every week and it has really shown in the postseason. If he can get through both of his bouts on Thursday he'll get a rematch with Dominic Petracci of Washington Township in the quarterfinals. Petracci defeated Cantterino, 1-0, during the regular season. Burns has had a great season but being the No. 9 seed means all roads lead directly to Cosgrove, sooner than later. Burns is a pinner, though, and can make his way through the wrestlebacks. Klein, Zaccaro, and O'Boyle don't have the best draws, although a Zaccaro vs. Canterino pre-quarterfinal bout would pit the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked 215-pounders in the Shore against one another for the first time all season. A Cosgrove vs. Casale final seems inevitable and it would match up a pair of state champions from 2020. Cosgrove was injured and didn't wrestle in the postseason last year while Casale elected to wrestle in the Cadet World Championships instead of the state tournament.

 

285

Top Four Seeds

1-Jimmy Mullen, Jr., St. Joseph (Montvale) (27-2)

2-Max Acciardi, Jr., Paramus Catholic (31-1)

3-Dom Brogna, Sr., Bergen Catholic (23-11)

4-Joseph Abill, Jr., Clifton (36-3)

Shore Conference qualifiers

7-Matt Jannucci, Sr., Colts Neck (36-0)

8-Lorenzo Portella, So., Red Bank Catholic (25-2)

16-Christian Steensen, Sr., Marlboro (36-1)

28-Sam Azzaretti, Sr., Brick Memorial (28-6)

29-John Dodaro, Sr., Lacey (24-10)

Shore Shots

First things first. Jimmy Mullen is the overwhelming favorite. He won a state title in 2020 but did not wrestle in the postseason last year, choosing to instead compete in the Cadet World Championship tournament. Acciardi is the No. 2 seed and a strong bet to reach the final and try to pull the upset Our old friend Dom Brogna, who spent his first two years at Donovan Catholic, beat Abill in the Region 2 semifinals after losing to Abill in the District 5 final. Did we mention all four of these guys are from Region 2? The fifth-place finisher there has a legitimate gripe. As for the Shore Conference, Jannucci has been the Shore's top-ranked heavyweight all season and enters the state tournament undefeated. He is in line to face Acciardi in the quarterfinals. Portella has wrestled great down the stretch but as the No. 8 seed, he is slated to face Mullen in the quarterfinals. First, he'll need to win a rematch with New Brunswick's Bryand Garcia, whom he defeated in ultimate tiebreaker to win the Region 5 title. Heavyweight is usually unpredictable, which would bode well for Steensen, Azzaretti, and Dodaro, who will have to work for a medal in the wrestleback rounds, but this is the deepest heavyweight field I can remember with five returning state medalists. We didn't even mention North Hunterdon's Liam Akers, who was 7th last season and whose only loss is to Acciardi in ultimate tiebreaker.

 

 

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