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HAZLET -- Raritan has Group 2 championship aspirations in 2022 and although there is a long way to go, the Rockets have been showing glimpses of having what it takes to bring another state championship back to The Launch Pad.

The host Rockets, ranked No. 9 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, won nine bouts with six wins coming by fall to pin down Ocean, 46-27, in a Shore Conference Class A Central match on Thursday night. Zach Reilley, Quinn Peters, Sean Lane, Nick Burns, Aidan Davis, and Braden Kmak each secured pins for Raritan while Alex Auletta scored an impressive victory against a ranked wrestler, freshman Nick Sheldrick earned his first varsity win, and junior Avery Rafalko delivered a late takedown for a match-clinching victory.

01/12/2022 - Ocean Township / Raritan
Raritan's Braden Kmak (Photo by Richard O'Donnell)

The victory sets up the Rockets for an upcoming match with St. John Vianney that will likely decide the Class A Central champion. Raritan has won 13 A-Central titles since 2005.

After a quick pin by Reilley, the No. 5 wrestler at 138 pounds in the SSN rankings, to start the match, Auletta gave Raritan a 9-0 lead when he defeated Ocean's Gio Poniros, 7-3, at 144 pounds. Poniros is ranked No. 8 at 138 pounds. Peters, ranked No. 8 at 150, then won by fall over Michael Poniros to extend Raritan's lead to 15-0. With the win over Poniros cousins, Raritan was in control early.

The Rockets needed those early results because Ocean went on a run with four straight wins - all by fall - to take a 24-15 lead. Third-ranked Nick Benner pinned Nick Cadoo in 1:17 and Shane Cartagena-Walsh, a returning region sixth-place finisher who made his season debut on Tuesday, built a 15-2 lead before turning Jack Devaney for a third-period fall at the 4:21 mark.

Ocean received a huge lift at 175 pounds when senior Najib Noorzaie, who had only one win entering the night, reversed Bobby Mulligan to his back and pinned him with 24 seconds left in the second period. Noorzaie was trailing 10-0 at the time and had nearly been pinned in a cradle just seconds before. The reversal of fortune put Ocean up 18-15 through six bouts.

At 190 pounds, No. 2 Jared Tracey pinned Kieran Falzon in 2:26 to give Ocean a 24-15 advantage.

Raritan had a major edge in the next handful of weights and it showed as the Rockets won four straight bouts with bonus points to put the match out of reach. Lane pinned Abimael Andre in 3:31 before Burns, who is ranked No. 3 at 215 pounds, bumped up to heavyweight and pinned Isaac Bozarth in the first period. Davis pinned Nate Fazio in the first period at 106 and Sheldrick won by 14-1 major decision over Chaunci Jones at 113 pounds in his varsity debut.

The Rockets received a dramatic win from Rafalko at 120 pounds when he scored a late takedown to take a 5-4 decision over Jake Schwartz, which gave Raritan a 40-24 lead with two bouts left, clinching the match.

At 126, Ocean's James Farina, ranked No. 4, won 7-3 over Raritan's Ryan Mansueto, who is ranked No. 7 at 120 and bumped up for the bout. Kmak closed out the Rockets' victory with a third-period pin vs. Ocean freshman Boomer Volek.

Keep scrolling for additional photos and video highlights

Box Score

No. 9 Raritan 46, Ocean 27

138: No. 5 Zach Reilley (R) p. Lucas Keenan, 0:25

144: Alex Auletta (R) d. No. 8 (at 138) Gio Poniros, 7-3

150: No. 8 Quinn Peters (R) p. Michael Poniros, 3:26

157: No. 3 Nick Benner (O) p. Nick Cadoo, 1:17

165: Shane Cartagena-Walsh (O) p. Jack Devaney, 4:21

175: Najib Noorzaie (O) p. Bobby Mulligan, 3:36

190: No. 2 Jared Tracey (O) p. Kieran Falzon, 2:26

215: Sean Lane (R) p. Abimael Andre, 3:31

285: No. 3 (at 215) Nick Burns (R) p. Isaac Bozarth, 1:25

106: No. 10 Aidan Davis (R) p. Nate Fazio, 1:35

113: Nick Sheldrick (R) md. Chaunci Jones, 14-1

120: Avery Rafalko (R) d. Jake Schwartz, 5-4

126: No. 4 James Farina (O) d. No. 7 (at 120) Ryan Mansueto, 7-3

132: Braden Kmak (R() p. Boomer Volek, 5:36


Check back for an expanded photo gallery by Richard O'Donnell

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