Ocean’s Tieto Stuns Koehler to Win OW, CBA Wins Third Straight Team Title at District 22
LITTLE SILVER -- People probably didn't give Ocean senior Dave Tieto much of a chance in the NJSIAA District 22 finals, but he knew he could win it all as long as he didn't hold back.
"I decided to let it fly," Tieto said. "I knew if I did I could beat him."
Tieto scored a 9-4 decision over Christian Brothers Academy sophomore Rich Koehler to claim the 120-pound title on Saturday afternoon at Red Bank Regional High School, dethroning the returning district champ. Koehler also won the Region VI title last season at 106 pounds and finished sixth in the state tournament. Tieto's impressive victory helped him garner Most Outstanding Wrestler honors, as voted upon by the District 22 coaches.
Tieto finished fourth in districts as a sophomore and was third last season. Winning a district championship was high on his list of goals.
"I was thinking about that before my match," Tieto said. "I've been waiting a long time for this."
Tieto (28-6) scored first with a takedown in the opening period and rode Koehler (22-3) out the rest of the way to take a 2-0 lead into the second period. Koehler chose defense and escaped, but Tieto took him down again and put him to his back for a two count, taking a 6-1 lead. Koehler got out again while nearly scoring with a reversal to put Tieto to his back, but the Ocean senior kept rolling with a third takedown and an 8-2 lead heading to the third period. Koehler scored with a takedown to trim his deficit to 8-4, but Tieto halted his rally and won 9-4 for his first district crown.
"As soon as I got that first takedown I felt pretty good," Tieto said. "After that I just got into a groove."
Tieto reached the Region VI Tournament last season but lost to Wall's Jack Kelly 7-5 in overtime in the opening round, and was eliminated on the first night. Now, as a district champion, he gets a bye into the quarterfinals. The pressure of wrestling in a one-and-done bout isn't something he has to worry about this season.
"I had to do that last year and it didn't work out very well," Tieto said. "It feels pretty good to get that bye."
Tieto's win over Koehler couldn't derail CBA's quest for another team title, however. The Colts, ranked No. 2 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, edged Long Branch 187-184 to win their third consecutive District 22 team championship. CBA had three champions, three runners-up and three third-place finishers to send nine wrestlers to the region tournament. Junior Nick Schutzenhofer captured the 106-pound title, senior Sebastian Rivera cruised to the 113-pound crown and senior Jack LaCorte claimed the 195-pound bracket. Koehler and seniors Carl Vasti (138) and William Oxley (heavyweight) were second and seniors Dylan VanSickell (132), Ben Kuhn (145) and Garrett Fitzgerald (160) wrestled back for third.
Head coach Russ Witt was also voted District 22 Coach of the Year.
Rivera was expectedly dominant in taking his third district title. The Northwestern-bound senior, who is ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 3 in the nation, won by fall in all three of his bouts. He pinned Middletown North junior Sean Deering in 51 seconds in the championship bout.
"I came out here to get the ball rolling and get ready for these next couple weeks," Rivera said.
Rivera is also the defending Region VI 113-pound champion and a two-time state fifth-place finisher. He has reached the state semifinals in each of the past two seasons. Rivera wrestled at 120 pounds most of the season, but dropped to 113 for the individual postseason. He wrestled at 113 during a tremendous offseason that included winning the coveted Super 32.
"Things had to play out - and they did - but 113 was always in the back of my mind," Rivera said. "It's really easy for me to make. I'm eating the day before and waking up a pound under, so it's not bad at all."
CBA enjoyed its best season in team history during the 2015-2016 season, winning a share of the Class A North division title that was fueled by a 28-27 victory over Howell on criteria that ended the Rebels' 73-match divisional winning streak. The Colts then won their first Shore Conference Tournament title in program history, clinching the win in the final bout. Saturday's district title was the final piece of team hardware for a squad comprised of nine senior starters.
"We knew this was going to be a tough one because Long Branch is good," Rivera said. "We're excited we got it done one more time for the coaches."
Schutzenhofer won his first title by defeating Raritan freshman Charles Barrale 8-2, and LaCorte clipped Middletown South's Robert Hulse 4-2.
Long Branch had a tournament-high five individual champions to nearly knock off CBA. Senior Lamont Reid won a thriller against Raritan's Nick Bohal in the 160-pound final, rallying from a 7-6 deficit with under 20 seconds left to reverse and pin the Raritan senior in 5:44.
Reid was up 5-1 after clamping in a cradle in the second period, but Bohal used a five-point move of his own late in the second to take a 7-6 lead. Bohal was riding Reid in the third period when a locking hands call opened the door.
"My mind was racing toward the end, but I had to keep my composure," Reid said. "I was just waiting for the right time. I was trying to loosen his grips and once I saw the locking hands call I knew it was a free move. I started rolling around and I got the best of him."
Long Branch and Raritan are bitter rivals, and their wrestlers have a chance to meet during the Hawk Classic and in their annual dual meet. Reid spent nearly all of the regular season at 170 pounds, however, so he and Bohal did not wrestle each other before the district finals. Reid thinks they might make up for lost time this coming week.
"I think I'll see him soon in regions," Reid said.
Reid's win capped a string of three straight championship victories for the Green Wave. Senior Danny Mullan won the 145-pound title with an 8-5 win over Ocean senior Jeff Andre, and senior Mike Shohet came from the No. 3 seed to defeat Red Bank's Tom Hinz 11-6 at 152 pounds.
Senior Joey Jasio won the 220-pound title with a 4-1 win over Keansburg's Dan Bauman, and senior John Tomlinson defended his heavyweight title by topping Oxley, a state qualifier at 220 last season, 4-3.
While Tieto ultimately won OW, teammate Jake Benner could have very well taken home the award, as well. Benner (32-0) remained undefeated with a 15-6 major decision over Long Branch senior T.J. Conlon in the 132-pound final to win his second district title. Benner won by fall in 13 seconds in the quarterfinals and also scored a technical fall victory over Raritan's Jimmy VanFechtmann in the semifinals. Conlon (24-3) had stunned the previously-undefeated VanSickell, 7-6, in the semifinals.
Senior T.J. Saldutti was Ocean's third champion, winning the 170-pound title with a 5-3 victory over Middletown North junior Tom Anderson.
Middletown North had a pair of champions with sophomore Stanley Wojdylak blanking Vasti 2-0 at 138 pounds and senior Anthony Vetrano winning his second title with a 4-2 victory over Rumson-Fair Haven's Theo Addison at 182 pounds.
Raritan standout sophomore Russell Benson won by fall over Red Bank's Adel Soliman in the 126-pound final. Raritan's Eric Pritchard was selected as the District 22 Assistant Coach of the Year.
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.