No. 3 Raritan Opens Big Lead, Gets Wild Pin from Benson in Win Over No. 6 Wall
WALL TOWNSHIP — Raritan’s depth and power was on full display Thursday night against another of the Shore Conference’s top teams as the Rockets, ranked No. 3 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, throttled sixth-ranked Wall, 48-20, to continue their hot start.
Raritan (6-0) took nine bouts from the Crimson Knights (0-2), including three forfeits, and won by fall in four of their six wins in contested bouts. Juniors Robert Taddeo at 106, A.J. Erven at 126, Russell Benson at 138 and Nick Polaco at 160 each won by fall while sophomore Cameron Rafalko rallied for an overtime win at 120 pounds and senior Ethan Wolf eked out a win in tiebreaker at heavyweight.
“Wall is a solid program year in and year out and we’ve been wrestling them close for many years,” said Raritan head coach Rob Nucci. “We knew we had a big edge down low. They wrestled Middletown North (Wednesday night) so I give a lot of credit to Wall and coach (Brian) Fischer for wrestling two quality programs on back-to-back nights. (Tonight) things went our way.”
Wall received wins from freshman Gus Setteducato at 132 pounds, junior Jack Kelly at 145, sophomore Rob Kanniard at 152, senior Chad McClelland at 170 senior Matt McKenzie at 195.
Even more impressive for Raritan was the fact it wrestled without two of its top starters, junior Christian Sookdeo and sophomore Anthony Aquilano. Still, the Rockets standout group of lowerweights staked them to a big lead right away and Wall never threatened. Wolf’s 2-1 win over Darryl Valme to start off the match was followed by Taddeo pinning Wall freshman Tyler Ferris at 106 pounds. Wall forfeited to Charles Barrale at 113 pounds and Rafalko came back from a 4-2 deficit late in the third period to force overtime and score a 6-4 win in sudden victory over Wall freshman Jacob Glantzman. Erven’s pin of Shane Golumb at 126 pounds put Raritan up 24-0.
“We have some depth,” Nucci said. “We’re a good 20 deep and we can make moves and juggle all parts of the lineup. Having that depth with quality guys is going to be key for us.”
Setteducato got the Crimson Knights on the board with an 18-9 major decision over fellow freshman Nick Aquilano, and that set the stage for the match’s marquee bout that ended with plenty of controversy. Raritan weighed in Benson up a weight at 138 pounds to get him matched up with Wall junior Nick Wagner. Benson was the Region VI runner-up at 126 pounds last season while Wagner finished fourth in Region VI at 132 pounds.
Wagner led 2-0 heading to the second period, but Benson cut it to 2-1 with an escape to start the second period. During a scramble while still at neutral, Benson sat back and got Wagner’s shoulder’s to the mat long enough for referee Kurt Karcich to dive down and slap the mat to call the fall. Wagner was stunned, and Wall’s bench was so incensed a team point was deducted for arguing the call.
Wow. Benson with the rare pin from neutral to deck Wagner at 138. Wall bench is livid. Team point deducted for Wall. pic.twitter.com/1zJCz68U6c
— Bob Badders (@Bob_Badders) December 23, 2016
“I have to give it up to may practice partner (A.J. Erven), all we do is scramble and I’ve been in that position before so I knew what I had to do,” Benson said “In those types of situations you can’t think, you just have to believe and know what you have to do.”
The unexpected pin put Raritan up 30-3 and shut the door on any hopes for a Wall comeback. It was also sweet revenge for Benson, who lost two Wagner via a defensive pin two years ago.
“I wanted him, I wanted revenge,” Benson said.
Wall would win the next two bouts with Kelly defeating Jimmy VanFechtmann 9-3 and Kanniard scoring a second-period technical fall, 20-5, over Andrew Bohal. Polaco was trailing to Josiah Schucht at 160 pounds before turning the tables and securing the fall to give Raritan a 36-11 lead. McClelland blanked Dylan Lonnay 5-0 at 170 before Wall forfeited to George Burdick at 182 pounds. McKenzie, who was third in the state at 195 last season, made quick work of Joe Sidisin with a 42-second fall, before Wall forfeited to Ryan Dickens in the final bout.
No. 3 Raritan 48, No. 6 Wall 20
Hwt: Ethan Wolf (R) d. Darryl Valme 2-1 TB
106: Robert Taddeo (R) p. Tyler Ferris 1:25
113: Charles Barrale (R) by forfeit
120: Cameron Rafalko (R) d. Jacob Glantzman 6-4 SV
126: A.J. Erven (R) p. Shane Golumb 3:01
132: Gus Setteducato (W) md. Nick Aquilano 18-9
138: Russell Benson (R) p. Nick Wagner 3:42
145: Jack Kelly (W) d. Jimmy VanFechtmann 9-3
152: Rob Kanniard (W) tf. Andrew Bohal 3:55 (20-5)
160: Nick Polaco (R) p. Josiah Schucht 2:15
170: Chad McClelland (W) d. Dylan Lonnay 5-0
182: George Burdick (R) by forfeit
195: Matt McKenzie (W) p. Joe Sidisin 0:42
220: Ryan Dickens (R) by forfeit
Records: at Wall (0-2); Raritan (6-0).
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.