Wrestling Top 10

1. Howell (30-1)

The Rebels are the no-doubt No.1 team in the Shore after bringing home the NJSIAA Group V championship to cap the greatest season in program history. Howell defeated Hunterdon Central, 28-27, to win their first state group title in program history which also avenged its only loss of the season. The Rebels won the Shore Conference Tournament for the second time in four years and won the Class A North division title to give them at least a share of the division championship for the 12th straight season. Howell won the District 22 team title with eight champions and 11 region qualifiers. At the Region 6 Tournament the Rebels had four champions - Darby Diedrich (120), Kyle Slendorn (126), Shane Reitsma (170) and Eric Keosseian (220) - and advanced eight wrestlers to the state tournament. Keosseian won the NJSIAA 220-pound state title while Slendorn finished second at 126 and Diedrich placed third at 120 to give Howell three state medalists for the first time since 1973. The Rebels will return seven state qualifiers next season and should once again be among the top public school programs in New Jersey.


2. Raritan (26-3)

The highest finish in the top 10 for the Rockets comes on the heels of a season where they reached the Shore Conference Tournament final for the first time in program history and advanced to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II final. Raritan won he Class A Central division title for the seventh straight season and 12th time in 13 years. They won the District 20 team title for their first district crown since 2011, crowning four champions and advancing 11 wrestlers to the Region 5 Tournament. Junior 132-pounder Russell Benson won the Region 5 title to reach the state tournament and finished one win shy of a state medal. The Rockets will return 11 starters next season and should remain among the Shore's elite teams.


3. Middletown North (26-4)

The Lions set a program record for wins in a season while advancing to the Shore Conference Tournament final four and reaching the NJSIAA North 2, Group IV sectional final. Middletown North also won the Class B North division title, its first outright division title since 1996, and finished second in the District 17 Tournament. Four wrestlers claimed district titles with a total of nine wrestlers advancing to the Region 5 Tournament. Freshman Tyler Klinksy won the 106-pound region title as the No. 8 seed and was the lowest seeded wrestler in the state to win a region championship. He and four others reached the state tournament where senior Tom Anderson placed fifth at 182 pounds and junior Nicko Cofone reached the fourth round of wrestlebacks. Ten wrestlers who either started or saw significant action will return next season as the Lions look to remain championship contenders.


4. Southern (13-3)

It was an odd season for the Rams, but one in which they still won a pair of championships and had a wrestler claim all-state status. Southern won the Class A South division title for the second straight season and third time in four years, then won the District 29 title to give them their seventh straight district team title. The Rams did not get a chance to defend their NJSIAA Group V title as they were forced to withdraw from the South Jersey Group V playoffs after a violation of state procedure. Two wrestlers claimed district championships and a total of 11 Rams wrestlers reached the Region 8 Tournament. Junior Matt Barnett and sophomore Nick O'Connell reached the state tournament and O'Connell finished eighth in the state at 145 pounds. Southern will return 10 region qualifiers and both state qualifiers, and should be among the top teams in the Shore next season.


5. Jackson Memorial (15-9)

The Jaguars their ninth sectional title in program history when they claimed the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV championship with a win over rival Brick Memorial. It is the second time in program history the Jags have won three sectional titles in a row. Jackson reached the quarterfinals of the Shore Conference Tournament, finished second at the District 25 Tournament and placed second in Class A South. Nine wrestlers reached the Region 7 Tournament and three more advanced to the state tournament. Seniors Matt McGowan and Tim Hamann reached the third round of wrestlebacks at 132 and 152 pounds, respectively. Jackson will return five region qualifiers, state qualifier Dave Lemay and a total of nine starters next season.


6. Long Branch (20-7)

The Green Wave won the District 23 team title for their first district championship since 2013. Long Branch also reached the Shore Conference Tournament final four and the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV semifinals, and placed second in Class B North. Senior Carlos Irizzary won a district title and eight others reached the Region 6 Tournament. Freshman Ryan Zimmerman (106), junior Pete Wersinger (182), senior Hunter Marhan (220) and sophomore Kevin Cerruti (Hwt) reached the state tournament. With three state qualifiers, eight region qualifiers and one of the best feeder programs in the Shore, Long Branch should be a team competing for championships at all levels next season.


7. Colts Neck (30-3)

Injuries wrecked what looked to be a very promising season for the Cougars, but they still ended up setting the program record for wins in a season as the program continues to trend upward. Colts Neck was second in District 21 and second in Class A North and reached the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals and the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV quarterfinals. The Cougars had three district champions and sent a total of nine wrestlers to the Region 6 Tournament. Junior Joey King (113) and Vinny Gargiulo (Hwt) finished second and senior Steven Kramer battled back for third at 138. King came within one win of a state medal in Atlantic City. Colts Neck will graduate some core members of its lineup, but will have two state qualifiers and five region qualifiers back next season.


8. Point Boro (16-6)

The Panthers won the Class B South for the first time since 2014 and closed the season strong to finish ranked in the top 10. Point Boro reached the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II semifinals where it lost to eventual Group II champion Delaware Valley. The Panthers reached the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals and placed second at the District 21 Tournament. One of the most memorable moments of the seasons was the Panthers'  31-26 win over rival Point Beach in front of a standing-room-only crowd where senior Tyler Tweedie clinched the win with a 3-2 victory in the final bout. Sophomore Billy Borowsky won a district title and six Panthers total reached the Region 6 Tournament. Junior heavyweight Anthony Bonavito and sophomore 138-pounder Spencer Robinson each placed fourth to advance to the state tournament.  With both returning next season plus four other region qualifiers the Panthers will be the favorite in Class B South and will look to make deeper runs in the conference and state tournaments.


9. Point Beach (22-2)

The Garnet Gulls won their second straight and second overall state sectional title by crushing Manville, 57-9, in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I championship. They nearly defeated Group I power Kittatinny in the Group I semifinals, falling 39-33 in a match where they split the bouts, 7-7. The Gulls also won the Class B Central division title for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons. Point Beach was third at the District 23 Tournament with two champions and a total of six Region 6 qualifiers. Senior Jack Baker won the 182-pound region title to give Point Beach consecutive seasons with a region champ for just the second time in program history. Baker and senior Cade Watkins reached the state tournament. Baker, Watkins, Roddy Rupp (32-4) and Jason Bowers (24-6) will graduate, but most of the starters return next season. Point Beach also has great numbers for a Group I program and should remain in contention next season.


10. Brick Memorial (13-7)

A young and inexperienced Mustangs squad was able to reach the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV championship match where they fell to rival Jackson Memorial, while also advancing to the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals. The Mustangs were third in Class A South and placed fourth at the District 21 Tournament. Senior Gianni Ghione led the Mustangs with a 38-1 record and placed third in the state tournament at 132 pounds. He won his third district title and third Region 6 title. Senior heavyweight Nick Rivera won his third Region 6 title, the only heavyweight to do so in Shore Conference history, and also claimed his fourth district championship. He was injured and did not compete in the state tournament. Senior Chris Richardson and junior Joe Rotundo were also region qualifiers. Brick Memorial loses its two heavy hitters to graduation and Rotundo is the only region qualifier returning next season, so the Mustangs have some work to do in developing the current roster if they hope to return to glory in 2018.


Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights. 


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