Brick Memorial’s Anthony Santaniello, CBA’s Julian George and Alex Nini Lead Six Beast of the East Medalists from the Shore Conference
Brick Memorial junior Anthony Santaniello placed second at the prestigious Beast of the East Tournament on Sunday afternoon at the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center.
Santaniello, last season's NJSIAA 120-pound state champion, was defeated by Delbarton's Tyler Vasquez, 6-5, in the 132-pound final to suffer just the second loss of his career. He is now 62-2 with his other loss coming in the 106-pound state final when he was a freshman.
Vazquez was third in the state at 120 pounds last season but he and Santaniello did not meet during the season.
Vazquez took Santaniello down in the first period and led 2-1 entering the second period. He chose bottom and then scored a reversal to go up 4-1. After an escape by Santaniello, Vazquez scored another takedown to bring a 6-2 lead into the third period. Santaniello chose bottom for the third and hit a reveal to close the gap to 6-4. He then received a stalling point to make it 6-5 but was unable to turn Vazquez before the final buzzer sounded.
Santaniello, who was the No. 1 seed, was dominant in his run to the championship bout, winning by fall, technical fall, and major decision in his first three bouts. He then defeated Malvern Prep's Spencer Barnhart, 7-1, in the semifinals.
Five other Shore Conference wrestlers took home medals for a top-eight finish.
Placing third at 138 pounds was Christian Brothers Academy junior Julian George. The returning state eighth-place finisher from 132 pounds last season was seeded 58th for the tournament but put together an incredible run that concluded with an amazing last-second 5-4 victory over Delbarton's Alessio Perentin in the consolation final. George was down 3-1 before scoring a takedown to tie the bout with under 51 seconds left. Perentin escaped with nine seconds left to go up 4-3 but George answered with a takedown just before the buzzer for the thrilling victory.
George's tournament started with a win over No. 7 seed Notre Dame's Bryson Vaugh, continued with wins over fellow NJ wrestlers Cinnaminson's Sam Kotch (39 seed) and St. Augustine's Richie Grungo (23 seed), and then hit a high-water mark when he downed No. 2 seed Danny Nini of Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), 3-1. George fell in the semifinals but rebounded with a win in the consolation semifinals to reach the third-place bout.
Also placing third was another CBA standout as sophomore Alex Nini capped an excellent tournament by placing third at 120 pounds with a 3-1 victory over Mount Saint Joseph's (Md.) Coleman Nogle. Nini was seeded fifth for the tournament and his only loss came to the No. 1 seed and eventual champion, Blair Academy's Marc-Anthony McGowan, 2-1 in double overtime during the semifinals. He then defeated the No. 3 seed, Malvern's Jack Consiglio, 1-0, in the consolation semifinals before the win over Nogle. Nini was 8th in the state at 113 pounds last season.
Rumson-Fair Haven sophomore Hudson Skove placed sixth at 195 pounds. A state tournament qualifier last season, Skove (seeded 8th) was eliminated from the championship bracket via a loss to top-seeded Sonny Sasso of Nazareth (Pa.) in the quarterfinals but came back to defeat Cape Henlopen's (Del.) Taylor, 8-1, and then Delbarton's Nick Olivieri (5th seed), 6-3, to reach the consolation semifinals. After a loss in that bout, he medically forfeited the fifth-place bout to finish sixth.
Placing seventh was Middletown South junior Jack Zaleski and placing eighth was St. John Vianney freshman Patrick O'Keefe
Zaleski is a two-time state medalist who was seeded 7th for the tournament and held seed by pinning St. Augustine's Damani Almodovar in 2:18 in his medal match. He reached the quarterfinals where he was defeated by the No. 2 seed, Blair Academy's Matthew Lopes. Zaleski locked up a medal with a quick pin in the blood round but was then defeated by the No. 4 seed, Bethlehem Catholic's Dante Frinzi, 5-2, to fall into the seventh-place bout.
O'Keefe was seeded 7th for the tournament and reached the quarterfinals where he was defeated by the No. 2 seed, Malvern's Anthony Mutarelli, 3-0. O'Keefe then won by fall over Xaverian's Raeqwon Shabazz to clinch a top-eight finish. After a loss in the consolation quarterfinals, O'Keefe ost 3-1 vs. vs. Notre Dame's Ayden Smith to finish eighth.
The Shore Conference also had two more wrestlers finish in the top 12 as St. John Vianney's Nico Diaz (132) and CBA's Tyler Barrett (152) were eliminated in the blood round.