We’ve still yet to have an uninterrupted week of wrestling after New Year’s Day and then the blizzard cut last week down to two days (plus one Tuesday match) of action, but there were still several impactful results up and down the Shore Sports Network Top 10.

Top-ranked Howell flexed its muscles with a 53-14 destruction of Kittatinny and certainly looks the part of New Jersey’s best public school team. No. 2 Raritan eked out a close win over North Hunterdon thanks to bonus points while No. 3 Southern and No. 4 St. John Vianney each went 4-0 with divisional wins and quad sweeps. Fifth-ranked Point Boro continued its very strong start with another stellar tournament performance.

It was all about key division wins in the bottom half of the rankings, starting with No. 6 Long Branch basically locking up the Class B North division title. In Class A South, Jackson Memorial nipped rival Brick Memorial thanks to the return of a pair of starters. Middletown North had an undefeated week with a strong showing at its Saturday quad.

There are plenty of intriguing matchups this week both of the divisional and nondivisional variety, including Raritan vs. Long Branch, Jackson vs. Southern and Point Boro vs. Lacey.

Wrestling Top 10

 1. Howell (11-0). Last week: No. 1

The Rebels blasted Kittatinny, 53-14, in a meeting of state-ranked teams by taking 11 of 14 bouts with 10 of 11 wins securing bonus points. Sophomore Shane Reitsma highlighted the victory by bumping up to 182 pounds and scoring a 20-11 major decision over fellow state qualifier Zach Mafaro. Howell also took care of business in its Class A North match by defeating Marlboro, 60-11. This week: Tuesday at Manalapan; Wednesday at Colts Neck; Thursday at Allentown; Saturday quad vs. Riverside, Northern Burlington and Robbinsville.


2. Raritan (9-1). Last week: No. 2

The Rockets edged North Hunterdon, 31-30, thanks to four straight pins from 170 to 220 by Anthony Aquilano, George Burdick, Justin Acevedo and Ethan Wolf that highlight a quad sweep that also included wins over Wayne Valley (54-12) and West Essex (56-11). Against Wayne Valley, Wolf defeated state qualifier Nick Trani, 3-1 in sudden victory overtime at 220 pounds, to improve to 14-0. Raritan has its annual showdown with rival Long Branch along with a matchup against perennial state power Delsea coming up. This week: Wednesday at No. 6 Long Branch; Saturday vs. Delsea and Piscataway.


3. Southern (8-1). Last week: No. 3

A 4-0 week for the Rams included a 43-17 Class A South win over Toms River East and a sweep of a quad with Mount Olive (45-14), West Morris (37-28) and Paramus (49-13). The Rams got a boost to their lineup with the season debut of two-time state qualifier Matt Barnett, who had been out since suffering an injury toward the end of football season. Junior Nick O’Connell, the state eighth-place finisher at 145 pounds last season, also returned over the weekend after not wrestling since Dec. 23. Southern can basically wrap up the division title this week if it can defeat Jackson Memorial. This week: Thursday vs. No. 8 Jackson Memorial; Saturday vs. Central.


4. St. John Vianney (6-0). Last week: No. 4

The Lancers remained undefeated with a 69-6 Class A Central win over Red Bank and a sweep of a quad with Old Bridge (41-14), Pingry (52-23) and Sayreville (56-18). Sophomore Tyler Pepe came through with a big win when he defeated two-time state qualifier Jake Wiatroski from Old Bridge, 3-1, at 120 pounds. Senior Josiah Walker, a state qualifier, made his season debut and went 4-0 with three pins and a technical fall. This week: Wednesday vs. Matawan; Saturday/Sunday at Sam Cali Invitational.


5. Point Boro (6-0). Last week: No. 5

Ben Sabo (113), Billy Borowsky (195) and Anthony Bonavito (Hwt) each won individual titles to lead the Panthers to the team title at the Elizabeth Minutemen Classic in their only action of the week. It is Point Boro’s third tournament team title this season. A crucial slate of matches lies ahead for the Panthers, including the defacto Class B South championship match against Lacey. This week: Tuesday at Manchester; Wednesday vs. Barnegat; Friday at Lacey; Saturday at Colts Neck with Allentown.


6. Long Branch (7-1). Last week: No. 6

The Green Wave overcame their last major obstacle standing in the way of the Class B North division title by taking down rival Ocean, 36-23. Junior La’Qym Morris made his season debut with a crucial pin at 220 pounds and went 3-0 during the week. Long Branch also went 3-0 at the Timber Creek Duals with wins over Woodstown (41-15), Lenape (70-8) and the host Chargers (52-12). Up next is the always-raucous rivalry match with Raritan. This week: Wednesday vs. No. 2 Raritan; Friday vs. Red Bank Catholic; Saturday quad at Kearny with Livingston and Lyndhurst.


7. Middletown North (8-3). Last week: No. 7

The Lions swept a quad with Ocean (44-23), Roxbury (36-26) and Hopewell Valley (42-25) and also posted a 60-12 Class B North victory over Red Bank Catholic to complete a 4-0 week. In the win over Hopewell Valley, junior Jacob Anderson won by fall over two-time region qualifier Ben Markulec at 220 pounds. This week: Wednesday vs. New Brunswick; Saturday/Sunday at Sam Cali Invitational.


8. Jackson Memorial (4-4). Last week: No. 9

Jackson moves up one spot in the rankings as the season debuts of Brandon Burkert and Nick Tomasiello helped the Jaguars overcome rival Brick Memorial, 35-30, in a matchup of ranked teams. Burkert scored a 9-7 overtime win over Ryan Andrus at 132 pounds and Tomasiello scored a 14-0 major decision over Brian Alexander at 145 pounds. Jackson also posted a 41-26 win over Westfield and lost to Fair Lawn, 40-27, in a nonconference triangular meet. Jackson can put in a claim for a share of the Class A South division title if it can defeat No. 3 Southern. This week: Wednesday at Toms River South; Thursday at No. 3 Southern; Saturday/Sunday at Sam Cali Invitational.


9. Brick Memorial (6-2). Last week: No. 8

The Mustangs dropped a Class A South match to rival Jackson Memorial, 35-30, but bounced back with nonconference wins over Bordentown (32-31) and Robbinsville (43-26). Freshman Vin Santaniello went 3-0 with two pins and one forfeit to improve to 15-1 and junior Caleb Alvarado went 3-0 with three pins and a 7-5 decision over two-time region qualifier Brent Grocott of Robbinsville. This week: Wednesday vs. Central; Friday vs. Brick; Saturday quad at Delran with Cedar Grove and Highland Regional.


10. Ocean (7-4). Last week: No. 10

The Spartans went 2-2 last week but hold onto the final spot since the losses were to teams ranked ahead of them. Ocean fell to Class B North rivals No. 6 Long Branch, 36-23, and No. 7 Middletown North, 44-23, but also posted a 40-29 win over Hopewell Valley and a 33-24 victory over Roxbury. Senior Adam Manzo had a pair of big wins with a 6-4 win over Middletown North state qualifier Fred Luchs and a 6-2 win over Roxbury two-time region qualifier John Tesoriero. This week: Wednesday vs. Wall; Thursday vs. Shore.


Dropped out: none


Teams to watch

Colts Neck (6-1): The Cougars swept a quad that included a 33-25 win over district rival Manalapan plus victories over Jackson Liberty (50-18) and Freehold (56-12). Senior Dyon Womack had a great day with a 2-1 win over Jackson Liberty state qualifier Josh Bollard and a 3-1 overtime win over Manalapan region place-winner Paul Santomarco. Colts Neck faces a pair of ranked teams at home this week with No. 1 Howell and No. 5 Point Boro coming to town. This week: Wednesday vs. No. 1 Howell; Saturday vs. No. 5 Point Boro and Allentown.

Lacey (3-2): The Lions defeated Manchester, 59-16, in their only match of the week. They’ll get their opportunity to make noise when facing No. 5 Point Boro this week in a match that should decide the Class B South champion. This week: Wednesday at Jackson Liberty; Friday vs. Point Boro; Saturday quad vs. Oakcrest, Central and Vineland.

Toms River North (4-1): The Mariners hammered Bridgewater-Raritan, 63-15, and also took down Voorhees, 46-30, in a nonconference triangular meet over the weekend. Toms River North’s only loss is to No. 9 Brick Memorial and they’ve performed well in both tournaments they’ve entered. This week: Wednesday vs. Toms River East; Friday vs. Toms River South; Saturday quad at Monroe with Jackson Liberty and JFK Memorial.




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