21 Shore Conference (NJ) Class A Central 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 Central Division, which features Holmdel, Monmouth Regional, Ocean, Raritan, Red Bank Catholic, Rumson-Fair Haven and St. John Vianney.
Wrestlers are listed in alphabetical order.
Shay Addison, Jr., Rumson-Fair Haven, 170
Addison was Rumson’s team leader in wins last season and tied teammate Jack Kelly for the best finish by placing fifth in the state. As a sophomore, Addison went 39-4, was an SCT runner-up, placed second in District 28, won a Region 5 title and battled his way to a fifth-place finish at the state tournament at 160 pounds. He enters this season with 66 career wins.
Alex Auletta, Jr., Raritan, 132
Auletta will jump three weight classes after competing at 113 pounds last season. He went 21-16 and placed third at the District 21 Tournament.
Cole Bailey, Jr., Raritan, 170
Raritan will be tough as nails, that much is certain, but there’s no denying the Rockets have lost a considerable amount of talent to graduation over the last few seasons and will have a mostly young and inexperienced roster in 2021. Bailey is the returning wins leader after going 22-14 as a sophomore and reaching the District 21 final at 160 pounds.
Max Brignola, Sr., Rumson-Fair Haven, 152
One of three returning state place-winners for RFH, Brignola earned a state medal by placing eighth in the state at 145 pounds last season. That came after reaching wrestleback round two as a freshman and finishing one win short as a sophomore. Last season, Brignola also won the Shore Conference Tournament, captured his second district title, was the Region 5 runner-up and finished with a 37-4 record. He has 113 career wins and was on pace to set a new program record before the season was shortened due to COVID. He is committed to wrestle collegiately at Lehigh.
Tyler Brignola, Sr., Rumson-Fair Haven, 160
Brignola went 28-9 and reached the state tournament for the first time via a fourth-place finish at the Region 5 Tournament at 152 pounds. He was also a runner-up at District 18 for his second career district medal.
Blake Clayton, Sr., St. John Vianney, 195/220
Clayton had a very good postseason as a sophomore when he reached the third round of wrestlebacks after finishing fourth at regions and he parlayed that success into a fantastic junior season. Clayton was a force in 2020, going 39-6 with District 17 and Region 5 championships and a third-place finish in the state tournament in a stacked 182-pound weight class. His only loss in Atlantic City came to state champion John Poznanski. He’s a state-title contender this season whether he ends up going 195 or 220.
Thomas Cleary, So., Holmdel
Holmdel graduated both of its state qualifiers from last season (Victor Wladika and Mike Pavlinetz), leaving Clearly as the returning wins leader. He turned in an impressive freshman campaign by going 26-10 and placing third at the District 18 Tournament, especially considering it came at 152 pounds where mostly juniors and seniors reside.
Nico Diaz, Jr., St., John Vianney, 132
One of four returning state qualifiers for the Lancers, Diaz went 28-8, placed second in District 17 and won the Region 5 126-pound title to make his second straight trip to the state tournament. His presence adds to SJV’s very strong group of lowerweights.
Luke DuPont, Jr., Holmdel
DuPont is one of three returning district medalists for the Hornets after going 24-11 and placing third in District 18 at 145 pounds.
Joseph Giordano, So., St. John Vianney, 106
Even without national No. 1 Dean Peterson in the lineup, SJV has several hammers and Giordano is one of them. He’ll be back at 106 pounds after a freshman season in which he went 32-12, was a District 17 runner-up, placed third in Region 5 and reached the second round of wrestlebacks at the state tournament.
Harrison Gordon, Sr., St. John Vianney, 113
A transfer from Marlboro, Gordon reached the third round of wrestlebacks at last season’s state tournament while also earning runner-up finishes at District 19 and Region 5 and going 37-7 while wrestling at 106 pounds. Gordon also won a district title in 2019.
Jack Kelly, Sr., Rumson-Fair Haven, 182
A Penn State recruit, Kelly opened eyes last season by going from a fifth-place region finisher to a fifth-place finish in the state. The powerful upperweight went 36-6 as a junior and won his second district title, finished third in Region 5 and reached the state semifinals at 170 pounds before eventually placing fifth. He was also third at the SCT. Even with a shortened season, Kelly has a good chance to reach 100 career wins as he enters the season with 83 victories.
Matteo Pinnero, Sr., Holmdel
Pinnero won 18 bouts last year and was a district finalist at 138 pounds in District 18. He along with Thomas Clearly and Luke DuPont solidify the middle of the lineup for Holmdel.
Sabino Portella, So., Red Bank Catholic, 170
Portella’s freshman year was a revelation for RBC as he turned in a historic season by becoming the first Caseys freshman to win a region title. He finished one win short of a state medal and finished the state tournament with a top-12 designation at 160 pounds. In total, his freshman year saw him go 35-6, take second in District 22, win the Region 6 title to become RBC’s first region champ since 1983 and reach the fourth round of wrestlebacks at Boardwalk Hall.
Ryan Mansueto, So., Raritan, 113
Mansueto was Raritan’s 106-pounder last season and placed third in District 21 while compiling a 20-13 record.
Jay Morris, Jr., Monmouth, 106
The Falcons return just a handful of starters and are led by Morris, who went 18-12 a season ago and will be back at 106 pounds.
Demetri Poniros, Sr., Ocean, 120/126
Ocean has a veteran group of lowerweights and that bodes well for their team success in 2021. Poniros battled an injury last season but was able to return for the postseason where he won a District 24 title, placed third in Region 6 and won a match at the state tournament.
Aidan Shaughnessy, Jr., Rumson-Fair Haven, 120
Shaughnessy is part of a Bulldogs team that brings back three state medalists and a total of five state qualifiers. Shaughnessy had a breakthrough sophomore season by going 31-6, winning a District 18 title and then securing a Region 5 title at 113 pounds. He won one match at the state tournament and reached the second round of wrestlebacks. He was also fourth at the SCT.
Blake Tarnowski, Sr., Ocean, 113/120
The Spartans return a strong core for 2021 and Tarnowski is one of their four returning state qualifiers. He went 26-9 last season with runner-up finishes in both District 24 and Region 6.
Joe Teresi, Sr., Ocean, 285
Teresi should be among the best heavyweights in New Jersey this season and will have his eye on claiming a state medal after coming close the last two seasons. In 2020, Teresi won his second District 24 title and then claimed his first Region 6 championship. He reached the second round of wrestlebacks in Atlantic City. As a sophomore, Teresi was one win away from a state medal. A four-year starter, Teresi needs 13 wins to reach to 100-win mark for his career.
Jared Tracey, Jr., Ocean, 160/170
Tracey has had a very good start to his career wrestling in the middle weights and is coming off a sophomore season in which he went 30-9 and qualified for the NJSIAA Championships. He was a district-runner up last season and is a two-time district medalist.
Other returning district medalists
Gio Poniros, Jr., Ocean, 126/132
AJ Benner, Sr., Ocean, 132/138
Kevin Cartagena-Walsh, Sr., Ocean, 152/160
Tah-Jay Phillips, Sr., Ocean, 160/170
Jordan Rafalko, Sr., Raritan, 145
Nick Burns, Jr., Raritan, 220
Daniel Brewton, Sr., Red Bank Catholic, 152 (2018)
Nick Cammarano, Sr., St. John Vianney, 120
Seth Rotondella, Sr., St. John Vianney, 132
Joey Butler, Sr., St. John Vianney, 152 (2018)
Michael Foley, So., St. John Vianney, 195/220