We're just about a month into the season and there haven't been too many surprises in terms of dual meet results. Howell is No. 1 by a hair over Southern with Raritan also making a bid for the top spot. Middletown North is unbeaten and ranked fourth. Those four teams are also ranked in the state top 20.

Colts Neck is a solid No. 5, but after that it's not as clear. Wall's win over St. John Vianney and Jackson Memorial's win over Brick Memorial helps clear the picture a bit, but any of the teams ranked five through 10 could beat each other an a given night.

There has already been some matchups of ranked teams and plenty more are in store. Wednesday night has No. 3 Raritan hosting No. 10 Long Branch in what is always a heated nondivisional matchup. On Friday Colts Neck meets Howell in a huge Class A North matchups, and Saturday will see Middletown North square off with Brick Memorial and Long Branch take on St. John Vianney during quad meets.

Wrestling Top 10


1. Howell (10-1)

The Rebels’ only loss is by one point to Hunterdon Central in a battle of top 10 teams in New Jersey. Among their victories are a 44-15 win over Manalapan and a 40-25 victory over Kittatinny this past week. Junior 132 Dan Esposito is 11-0 and freshman 170 Shane Reitsma is also 11-0 to lead a roster that has seven double-digit winners. Senior 220 Eric Keosseian, junior 126 Kyle Slendorn and sophomore 120 Darby Diedrich are all 11-1.


2. Southern (7-1)

The Rams fell to High Point on Dec. 30 but have won five straight since then, including a 34-21 win over a solid West Morris team and Class A South wins over Toms River East and Central. Eight wrestlers are over 10 wins, led by undefeated senior 182 Seon Bowker at 14-0. Junior Owen Kretschmer is 13-4 at 113 pounds, junior Matt Barnett is 10-2 at 132 pounds and sophomore Nick O’Connell is 12-2 at 145 pounds.


3. Raritan (12-1)

The Rockets own a 48-20 win over No. 6 Wall and also have a good nonconference victory over North Hunterdon. They were 5-0 over the past week with victories over Wayne Valley, West Essex, Bridgewater-Raritan and Matawan to go along with the North Hunterdon win. Raritan has eight wrestlers with at least 10 wins, including undefeated sophomore Charles Barrale at 113 (11-0) while Russell Benson is 14-1 at 132, George Burdick is 14-1 at 170 and Ethan Wolf is 13-1 at 220.


4. Middletown North (8-0)

The Class B North title is all but locked up for the Lions with wins over No. 6 Wall, No. 10 Long Branch and Ocean already in hand, and they also have very good nonconference wins over Warren Hills and Roxbury. Five wrestlers have 10 or more wins, including junior 145 Stanley Wojdylak (12-2), who has a win over Ocean standout Jake Benner. Junior 170 Nicko Cofone is 11-1, senior 182 Tom Anderson is 10-3 and the freshman duo of Tyler Klinsky (12-1 at 106) and Fred Luchs (11-2) at 113 have been a major boost.


5. Colts Neck (15-0)

The Cougars entered 2017 with plenty of hype and have been as advertised so far. They went 8-0 to win the Disney Duals in Florida and a swept a quad with Manalapan, Freehold and Jackson Liberty this past weekend. Challenges lie ahead with starters Jerry Lleshi and Justin Pierre-Louise out indefinitely after a violation of team rules and starters Michael Jannucci and Liam Hoagland injured this past weekend. Junior 113 Joey King is off to a 14-0 start to lead a group that has eight wrestlers with over 10 wins. The return of senior Steven Barsky, a region qualifier, at 195 pounds is a major boost.


6. Wall (1-3)

The Crimson Knights’ record doesn’t make them a top 10 team, but the losses are to No. 3 Raritan, No. 4 Middletown North and Cranford, which is ranked top five in New Jersey. The Crimson Knights have a 35-30 win over St. John Vianney and are dangerous at several spots. Senior 195 Matt McKenzie has been dominant in starting 12-0 while senior 138 Nick Wagner (11-2), junior 145 Jack Kelly (11-2) and sophomore 152 Rob Kanniard (13-1) are among the best in the Shore.


7. St. John Vianney (5-1)

The Lancers’ loss to Wall prevented them from jumping up a spot, but the talent is there at several weights. That makes them a better tournament team than in duals, however. Senior 113 Luke Ecklof is unbeaten at 13-0 while freshman 106 Tyler Pepe is 13-1. Juniors Nick Caracappa (11-3 at 170) and Steven Giannios (11-1 at 220) have been impressive thus far. Senior heavyweight Micah Clark is 10-1, but will be out of the picture soon as he will enroll early at Rutgers where he has a football scholarship.


8. Jackson Memorial (3-4)

The Jaguars are under .500 but three of the four losses have come to teams ranked in the top 20 in New Jersey. The Jags have a hard-fought 33-21 win over Brick Memorial. Senior 138 Matt McGowan is 11-2, as is sophomore 106 Vinnie Scollo. Senior Dan Bergeron is in the midst of a breakout season with a 12-4 record at 160 pounds and junior Dave Lemay is doing the same with a 12-2 mark at 220. Sophomore Carsten DiGiantomasso is 12-4 at 126 pounds.


9. Brick Memorial (3-2)

The Mustangs have wins over Central, Toms River North and Lacey and have dropped matches to No. 2 Southern and No. 8 Jackson Memorial. They are young and inexperienced in spots, but have a pair of undefeated hammers in seniors Gianni Ghione at 132 and Nick Rivera at heavyweight. Senior Chris Richardson is 9-3 at 152 pounds, junior Sam Williams has emerged as a solid starter with a 9-2 mark at 170 and sophomore Ean Mueller continues to improve and is 7-3 at 160.


10. Long Branch (7-1)

The Green Wave’s lone defeat is to No. 4 Middletown North and they own wins over Point Boro and Ocean among their seven victories. Five wrestlers have over 10 wins and four are underclassmen. Senior 126 Carlos Irizzary leads the team with a 12-3 record while freshman Ryan Zimmerman at 106, junior Chris Dean at 120 and sophomore Luke Arnold at 152 each have 11 wins. Junior Pete Wersinger is 10-3 at 195 ponds.


Teams to watch:

Manalapan (7-2)

Ocean (6-2)

Brick (6-0)


Wrestling editor Bob Badders can be reached at badders@allshoremedia.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. 


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