Brick Memorial’s Evan Tallmadge, Anthony Santaniello, Vincent Santaniello Win Wrestling Region Titles
FLEMINGTON – It was all business for Brick Memorial on Saturday morning.
Mustangs senior Vincent Santaniello, junior Evan Tallmadge and sophomore Anthony Santaniello each claimed region championships during the NJSIAA Central Region Tournament at Hunterdon Central Regional High School. The morning session featured weight classes 106 through 126 pounds and the Mustangs’ tremendous trio won three of the four weight classes.
In the 11 combined bouts between the three, they scored bonus points in nine of the victories.
“They have high expectations,” Brick Memorial head coach Mike Kiley said of the Mustangs’ lower-weight hammers. “A win is a win at this level but they expect to be putting up majors, techs and pins. That’s the standard they hold themselves to.”
Winning a region title is no small feat, especially this season when the four “Super Regions” combine two traditional region tournaments, New Jersey Regions 5 and 6 in this case. But for all three, their goal is to win next weekend when Phillipsburg hosts the NJSIAA Championships. Tallmadge was fourth in the state at 106 pounds last season, Anthony Santaniello was the state runner-up at 106 and Vincent was the state runner-up at 120 pounds. Their singular goal is to be crowned a New Jersey state champion this season.
Tallmadge started the run for Brick Memorial with a 6-2 victory over Howell freshman Sebastian Ortega to win the 113-pound title. Tallmadge had a takedown in the first period, a reversal in the second and another takedown in the third to win his second region championship.
“I thought I slacked a little on scoring points in the final, I wanted to tech or pin everyone,” Tallmadge said. “I felt like I could have did the but the kid was tough and wrestled a good match. I just need to keep improving, keep working with them (Anthony and Vincent) and getting better every day to win that state title. I’m looking to do the same thing I did today, score as many points as possible and dominate.”
Tallmadge will be the No. 1 seed at 113 pounds for the state tournament.
At 120 pounds, Anthony Santaniello capped a remarkable tournament by pinning Middletown South’s Jack Zaleski in 3:08 to win his second region title. Santaniello had a bye after a wrestler dropped out early in the morning and then proceeded to win by fall, technical fall and then fall again in the championship bout. He built a 9-2 lead before pinning Zaleski, who was fifth in the state at 106 last season.
“I just wanted to see where I’m at,” Anthony said. “In the room, I’ve been wrestling really well, at Shore Thing I’ve been wrestling really well, and I wanted to see how that translates into some big tournaments like this.”
“He seems to be a step ahead of everyone in the gym,” Kiley said. “He really is impressive and he’s just going to keep that rolling.”
Two seasons, two regions titles for the youngest Santaniello brother, but his eyes are on the prize.
“This is good, it’s awesome, but I’m really looking forward to that state title.”
Anthony Santaniello will be the No. 2 seed in the state tournament. Kinnelon’s Evan Mougalian, who defeated Santaniello, 3-1, in last season’s 106-pound state final, won the North 1 Region and will be the No. 1 seed.
Vincent Santaniello had to eke out a 1-0 win over St. John Vianney’s Nico Diaz, whose defensive style and game plan prevented Santaniello from getting to his offense at his usual rate. The disappointment was evident following the match, even though it was Santaniello’s third region title. He is the seventh wrestler in Brick Memorial history to win three region titles, joining Bill Scott, Todd Palmisano, Marc Rosenfeld, Nick Rivera, Gianni Ghione and of course, his father Vinnie Santaniello, who is Brick Memorial’s only four-time region champion.
“I wish he felt the same way right now,” Kiley said. “He should be very proud of himself the way he works and the way he dedicates himself. I’m not surprised he’s in that group of names.
Santaniello’s expectation of domination and whey that wasn’t the case in the championship bout was all that was on his mind in the moments following his victory, however.
“I definitely didn’t wrestle to the best of my ability,” Santaniello said. “If I’m scoring 4-5 points on my brother and Tallmadge I should be scoring 10-15 on everybody else. I know they’re the best in their weight and I’m the best in my weight, I just didn’t perform the way I wanted to. We have goals this year to dominate and I didn’t do that in that match.”
“He wrestled a tough match,” Kiley said of Diaz, who is now a three-time state qualifier. “He was tying up his elbows and hanging in the ties so it’s not like he threatened Vincent much, but it was shutting down his attacks a little bit. Vincent was putting shots together.”
“I wrestle him a bunch at Shore Thing so he knows what I do and I wrestled Dean (SJV two-time state champion Dean Peterson) eight times in high school, so they know my moves,” Santaniello said. “I was looking for the reversal but they cut me (in the third period). They knew what I was going to do so they tried to slow me down and score late.”
As a returning state finalist and a three-time state medalist, Vincent Santaniello will be the No. 1 seed at 126 pounds for the state tournament.
Having three nationally-ranked wrestlers in consecutive weight classes means Tallmadge and the Santaniellos having an elite training partner to work with every day in the Brick Memorial wrestling room. Tallmadge, who wrestled for Brick Township his first two seasons, is also very close friends with the Santaniellos.
“I’ve been friends with them since I started wrestling,” Tallmadge said. “They were my first friends since my first match, first practice. It stung the first two years I couldn’t wrestle with them but this year, I got way better, we just make each other so much better.”
“To add Evan to this roster, as a wrestler he’s unbelievable but he’s an even better kid,” Kiley said. “We’re really happy to have him.”
“It’s amazing,” Anthony Santaniello said. “Every day it’s back and forth, even with Vin. Normally he will beat us but we’re all together working every day. Even Nick Torre. I don’t think I’ve beaten Nick Torre in a week. Our room is great and I love it. There’s no better room.”
Punching Their Tickets
All four region champions were No. 1 seeds…Matawan sophomore Ricky Gomez came from the No. 13 seed to qualify for the state tournament via a fourth-place finish at 106 pounds…Jackson Memorial senior Brett Blaess came from the 11 seed to finish fourth at 120 pounds and qualify for the state tournament. Blaess had to injury default in his quarterfinal match but was able to regroup and win two bouts...Red Bank junior Phil Stolfa finished fourth at 126 to become Red Bank’s first state qualifier since 2018.
106: 1-Nico Calello (St. Joseph-Metuchen) p. 3-Anthony Rossi (Hunterdon Central), 1:59
113: 1-Evan Tallmadge (Brick Memorial) d. 2-Sebastian Ortega (Howell), 6-2
120: 1-Anthony Santaniello (Brick Memorial) p. 2-Jack Zaleski (Middletown South), 3:07
126: 1-Vincent Santaniello (Brick Memorial) d. 2-Nico Diaz (St. John Vianney), 1-0
106: 5-James Farina (Ocean) d. 13-Ricky Gomez (Matawan), 6-2
113: 3-Alex Nini (CBA) p. 4-Harrison Gordon (St. John Vianney), 3:41
120: 3-Garrett Totten (CBA) d. 11-Brett Blaess (Jackson Memorial), 9-2
126: 3-Nieko Malone (Howell) d. 6-Phil Stolfa (Red Bank), 3-0
106: 6-Anthony Urso (Jackson Liberty) by forfeit over 2-Kevin Beck (Middlesex)
113: 5-Angelo Messina (Freehold) p. 11-Giovanni Alejandro (St. Joseph-Metuchen), 5:48
120: 5-Desomond Pleasant (Piscataway) md. 4-Colin Bradshaw (Howell), 9-0
126: 5-Luke Temple (Jackson Memorial) d. 4-Travis Tuminelli (Middletown South), 5-0
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