COLT CLASSIC: Nick Schutzenhofer’s Overtime Win Delivers CBA its First SCT Championship
LITTLE SILVER -- Nick Schutzenhofer waited two years to get a shot at a varsity roster spot, and on Saturday he made his mark to deliver Christian Brothers Academy a historic victory.
In the final and winner-take-all bout at 106 pounds, Schutzenhofer defeated Darby Diedrich 2-1 in double overtime to give the Colts a 34-28 victory and the Shore Conference Tournament championship for the first time in program history on Saturday night at Red Bank Regional.
"This is a special moment for me," Schutzenhofer said. "I had a feeling it was going to come down to me, and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I told my coaches I'd love to be the last match. I'd never done it before, and I couldn't be happier it came today and I was the one to get it done."
Schutzenhofer, who was stuck behind state medalists Sebastian Rivera and Richie Koehler each of the past two seasons at 106 pounds, avenged an overtime loss to Diedrich - his only defeat of the season - to add another title to the most decorated CBA wrestling team of all time.
"To see Schutz sit for two years and then come out here in the biggest match of his life and win it for us and make history, it's amazing," Rivera said.
"He was the first one in the locker room this morning," said CBA head coach Russ Witt. "He said he wanted it to come down to him. When he went out there he just had that look in his eyes."
A pin at heavyweight by senior William Oxley set up Schutzenhofer and Diedrich in the penultimate bout. If Diedrich would have won by decision to tie the match at 31 Howell would have won on criteria, two pins to one.
After a scoreless first period, Schutzenhofer escaped in the second to take a 1-0 lead. A pair of stalling calls against him, including one late in the second period, tied the bout at one heading to the third period. Schutzenhofer then rode Diedrich out to force overtime. After a scoreless sudden victory period, Schutzenhofer rode out Diedrich again in the first 30-secod session of double overtime before escaping to go up 2-1 and holding on for the one-point win that clinched the SCT title.
"When it got to overtime I knew I wanted it more," said Schutzenhofer, who is now 22-1 on the season. "In that first Howell match I thought my loss was going to cost the team. I've been looking forward to (a rematch). I wanted it really bad."
Schutzenhofer and Diedrich also happen to be training partners at Triumph Wrestling Club.
"I wrestled him probably seven or eight times in middle school and we also train together, so we know each other's style," Schutzenhofer said. "I knew it was going to be a grinding type of match."
As a freshman he was stuck behind Rivera, who went on to place fifth in the state tournament. Rivera is now ranked top five in the nation at 120 pounds, a state title contender and signed to Northwestern. His chance to be a varsity starter didn't come as a sophomore either. He was beat out by Koehler, who won a Region VI title and finished sixth in the state tournament. Nobody outside of CBA's wrestling room knew what to expect from Schutzenhofer this season. The Colts knew that had something special.
"It was unbelievable," Witt said. "He's a been a guy who's been in our program for a couple of years and has paid his dues. He has had the opportunity to work out with some of the best lightweights in the state, and he has really blossomed. Not only that, but he's a leader on our team."
CBA won eight bouts with bonus points in six of those wins. Koehler at 113 and senior Jack LaCorte at 195 won by technical fall, Rivera (120), Dylan VanSickell (132) and Garret Fitzgerald (170) recorded major decisions and Oxley had CBA's lone win by fall at heavyweight.
CBA proved its win over Howell on criteria from earlier in the season was no fluke. The Rebels were at full strength with senior state medalist Kris Lindemann, who was injured to start the season, back in the lineup. The Colts were also at full strength with district medalist Garret Fitzgerald back.
"Nobody can say anything anymore," Rivera said.
CBA defeated Jackson Memorial 32-31 in the semifinals to reach the championship match for the first time. Howell was a 44-25 winner over previously-undefeated Wall in the other semifinal match.
The championship match started at 113 pounds where it was strength versus strength between two of the best collections of lower weights in New Jersey. Diedrich had weighed in at 106 pounds and wrestled at 113 in the match against Wall, but Howell decided to keep him at 106 and send out Eli Orford against Koehler. Koehler won by 17-2 technical fall in 4:33 to give CBA a 5-0 lead.
The Rebels hoped sophomore Kyle Slendorn, a state qualifier, could save bonus points against Rivera, which he did in yielding a 15-4 major decision. Rivera's bonus points put CBA up 8-0. The Colts then saved some bonus points of their own when Sam LaCorte avoided being pinned by Howell senior Nick Ciaccia. LaCorte nearly had his shoulders ripped apart by Ciaccia, who is ultra-tough on top, and left the mat with a face smeared with blood. But the freshman did his job by staying off his back.
With CBA leading 9-4, VanSickell won by 14-4 major decision over Daniel Esposito at 132 pounds. The undefeated senior (20-0) recorded six takedowns to put the Colts up 13-4.
Howell started to make its run and took a 19-13 lead with three consecutive wins. Senior Anthony Gagliano dominated Carl Vasti with nine takedowns en route to a 20-8 major decision at 138 pounds, and senior Peter Dee won by fall in 1:33 over Ben Kuhn at 145. Lindemann followed with a 20-3 technical fall in 4:31 over Derek Smith at 152 pounds.
Then came an important tossup bout between CBA senior Chris Koutzen and Howell senior Frank Leonardis. A quick takedown by Leonardis put him up 2-0, but Koutzen scored on a reversal to tie the bout before taking control with a second-period ride out. In the third, Koutzen escaped and then took Leonardis down to go up 5-2, and held on for the crucial 5-3 decision.
Koutzen usually wrestles at 152 pounds, but CBA opted to move him away from Lindemann.
"My coaches told me if they move me up to 160 I have to win," Koutzen said.
Koutzen and Leonardis were also very familiar with one another.
"I've been wrestling him since sixth or seventh grade and I've known him forever," Koutzen said. "He's also a good friend of mine, but I went out there and took it to him. You have to let it all out there in matches like this. I'm glad I could contribute something to this win."
Fitzgerald followed with a 12-2 major decision over Jack Kirk at 170 pounds to put CBA back in front, 20-19, with five bouts left. Howell's Zack Barnes won 2-1 over Cameron DiGiorgio at 182 pounds to put Howell back up, 22-20, but not giving up bonus was a win for the Colts.
"Cam DiGiorgio is a second-year wrestler, and giving up only a decision was huge," Witt said. "At 152 to not give up six; that kid (Smith) is only a freshman. That's impressive and a moral victory for us. Those guys have been big throughout the year."
LaCorte overwhelmed Ryan Marter with 10 takedowns in a 23-8 technical fall at 195 pounds. Howell junior Eric Keosseian won by fall in just 19 seconds at 220 pounds, but Oxley returned the favor with a quick pin at heavyweight. The score was now 31-28 heading into the final bout.
"My stomach was in a ball," Rivera said.
Everyone on CBA's sideline was nervous, but here was no one they wanted out there more than Schutzenhofer.
"He was looking for revenge against Diedrich," Koutzen said. "He had a chip on his shoulder."
"You get in matches like this and sometimes you squirm (as a coach)," Witt said. "But not with Nick because of how poised he is. I was probably more nervous than he was. He's a smart kid and a smart wrestler, and he wrestled a smart match."
Never viewed as a wrestling school, all CBA did was beat Brick Memorial in the quarterfinals, Jackson Memorial in the semifinals and Howell in the championship match, completing a run through teams that long ago established themselves as state powers and sit firmly in the pantheon of Shore Conference greats. They also rebounded from a loss to Middletown North the day before the SCT began.
"They have guts and heart, and they showed it tonight," Witt said. "We asked the guys how did they want to remember this day. Did we want to think of what could have been or look back and say, 'Man, that was a special day'."
It was a long two years for Schutzenhofer, and an arduous 40 years for CBA, but on Saturday night it was all worth the wait.
SHORE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
1-CBA 34, 2-Howell 28
113: Richie Koehler (CBA) tf. Eli Orford 4:33 (17-2)
120: Sebastian Rivera (CBA) md. Kyle Slendorn 15-4
126: Nick Ciaccia (H) md. Sam LaCorte 16-2
132: Dylan VanSickell (CBA) md. Daniel Esposito 14-4
138: Anthony Gagliano (H) md. Carl Vasti 20-8
145: Peter Dee (H) p. Ben Kuhn 1:33
152: Kris Lindemann (H) tf. Derek Smith 4:31 (20-3)
160: Chris Koutzen (CBA) d. Frank Leonardis 5-3
170: Garret Fitzgerald (CBA) md. Jack Kirk 12-2
182: Zack Barnes (H) d. Cameron DiGiorgio 2-1
195: Jack LaCorte (CBA) tf. Ryan Marter 23-8 (4:00)
220: Eric Keosseian (H) p. Jared Smallwood 0:19
HWT: William Oxley (CBA) p. Matt Mazauskus 1:07
106: Nick Schutzenhofer (CBA) d. Darby Diedrich 2-1 (2OT)
1-CBA 32, 4-Jackson Memorial 31
106: Nick Schutzenhofer (CBA) md. Carsten DiGiantomasso 12-4
113: Richie Koehler (CBA) md. Brandon Burkert 9-1
120: Mike Spino (JM) p. Sam LaCorte 3:39
126: Sebastian Rivera (CBA) p. Tyler Mitrosky 1:38
132: Dylan VanSickell (CBA) d. Matt McGowen 9-4
138: Carl Vasti (CBA) d. Mike Christie 3-2
145: Tim Hamann (JM) md. Ben Kuhn 9-1
152: Chris Koutzen (CBA) d. Jay Epperly 2-0
160: Garrett Fitzgerald (CBA) p. Dan Bergeron 0:11
170: Tanner Kelly (JM) p. Sam Houstan 5:10
182: Larry Richardson (JM) d. Cameron DiGiorgio 5-2
195: Jack LaCorte (CBA) d. Adante Davis 1-0
220: Chris Modello (JM) by forfeit
HWT: Austin Ostrander (JM) by forfeit
2-Howell 44, 3-Wall 25
106: Jesse Liptzin (H) p. Theodore McGowan 2:55
113: Darby Diedrich (H) p. Mike Rocha 0:19
120: Kyle Slendorn (H) d. Jack Kelly 5-3
126: Nick Ciaccia (H) d. Joe Demuner 4-2
132: Nick Wagner (W) p. Daniel Esposito 2:53
138: Peter Dee (H) tf. Alex Cortez 4:41 (17-3)
145: Anthony Gagliano (H) d. Rob Kanniard 4-3
152: Kris Lindemann (H) by forfeit
160: Chad McClelland (W) d. Frank Leonardis 5-2
170: Josh Glantzman (W) md. Jack Kirk 10-0
182: Brett Donner (W) by forfeit
195: Ryan Marter (H) p. Shane Davis 4:55
220: Matt McKenzie (W) by forfeit
HWT: Eric Keosseian (H) p. Darryl Valme 1:25
Wrestling editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.