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By John F. Horan -- Rumson-Fair Haven Correspondent 

For the first time in anyone’s memory, the Rumson-Fair Haven wrestling team, ranked No. 4 in the Shore Sports Network Top Ten 10, was favored in a dual meet over the Raritan Rockets.

Raritan has been the king of the Shore Conference Class A Central Division for the past 12 years, winning the division nine times over that span. Even the 2020 version of the dual was considered a toss-up before the match. In that contest, Rumson had to win the last five matches to win the dual in come-from-behind fashion.

The strength of the Bulldogs’ line-up is the run from 152 to 195, and they did not disappoint. Twin brothers Max and Tyler Brignola pinned at 152 and 160 lbs., respectively, before Shay Addison won by technical fall over Cole Bailey, the 2020 District 21 runner-up. The Bulldogs then inserted sophomore Ryan Boyer, who weighed in at 170 lbs. into the line-up at 182 lbs. where he recorded a fall over fellow sophomore Kieran Falzon. This move allowed the bulldogs to bump Jack Kelly up to 195 lbs. where he recorded a first-period pin on Sean Lane and highly touted freshman Hudson Skove to 220 lbs. where he introduced himself to the Shore Conference with a major decision. At this point in the match, the Bulldogs had accumulated an almost insurmountable 30-point lead on their way to rolling to a 42-26 victory.

"Our guys train with partners that are bigger every week,” said Rumson head coach Bryan Heller. “Even as an incoming freshman, we knew Hudson had the experience to handle the situation we were putting him in. These guys train to compete with the best in the state, we are going to challenge them as often as possible to prepare them for the postseason; Hudson joins murderer’s row as a contributor and he will make noise this year."

On inserting sophomore Ryan Boyer into the line-up at 182, Heller said, “Ryan Boyer is a hammer, he is a varsity starter on 95 percent of the teams in the country, but he just happens to be stuck right in the middle of guys who have a couple more years of experience.  Our best lineup includes him in the mix, and he is always willing to take the mat, no matter what weight or who his opponent is.”

Heller is right about that. As a freshman in 2020, Boyer scored a clutch pin at 170 pounds against Raritan, helping to set up the Bulldogs’ come-from-behind victory.

Raritan stopped the Rumson streak at heavyweight as senior Aswan Clark (21-10 last season) won a decision over Rumson sophomore Justin Kuo. Julian DuQue, another talented Bulldog freshman, quickly got those points back as he won a 6-1 decision over sophomore Matt Erven. DuQue was impressive in his varsity debut showing off his ability to scramble along with solid defense.

Raritan flexed its muscles between 113 and 138 pounds by winning four of those five contests.  Sophomore Ryan Mansueto (3rd in District 21) and junior Alex Auletta (3rd in District 21) each won by fall, while freshman Zach Reilly won by major decision at 126 and junior Connor Newell won by decision at 138. Reilly was particularly impressive demonstrating a relentless ability to score points.

Heller commented on the team’s first outing, “It's been a LONG offseason, the kids have been faced with the adversity of a pandemic, but continued to do what they could to train and make improvements.  There were doubts and obstacles, which makes getting on the mat to compete even sweeter!  Each outing, we look for ways to improve, and we will build on this win. With that said, It always feels good to beat Raritan!.”


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