St. John Vianney Crowns Four Champs to Lead the Way at Mustang Classic
BRICK TOWNSHIP — St. John Vianney isn’t a team with depth or a long lineup, but what the Lancers have in abundance is firepower, and it was on display Thursday at one of New Jersey’s toughest tournaments.
In a tournament featuring traditional state powers Paulsboro, High Point, Delsea and Brick Memorial, it was St. John Vianney which crowned a tournament-high four champions at the powerful Mustang Classic to showcase the kind of impact can have later in the year. Freshman phenom Dean Peterson, seniors Nick Caracappa and Steven Giannios and junior Paul Liseno each took home championships at Brick Memorial while sophomore Tyler Pepe finished second. Senior Charlie Peterson added a third-place finish at 138 pounds. Team scores were not officially kept, but St. John Vianney would have finished third behind Paulsboro and St. Peter’s Prep.
“We came to this tournament specifically because of the competitive level,” said St. John Vianney head coach Denny D’Andrea. “I know we have the good young kids down low and the experienced kids up top. We could have gone to some other tournaments but this is a good tournament with Paulsboro, High Point, Delsea. We wanted to have as many could matches as we could.”
“I think it shows we’re one of the most dominant teams in the Shore Conference,” Liseno said.
A Shore Sports Network first-team All-Shore offensive lineman during football season, Liseno has begun the wrestling season with the same high-level performances. He was dominant in his run to the heavyweight championship by winning by fall in all three of his bouts. Liseno wrestled a total of 1:15 in the entire tournament, including pinning St. Peter’s Prep’s Andrew Chiurazzi in a mere eight seconds in the final. He also won by eight seconds in the quarterfinals and pinned Paulsboro’s Austin Mooney in 59 seconds in the semifinals.
“I had two overhooks and I just threw him across my shoulder,” Liseno said of his quick fall in the final. “My plan is to go out there and pin everyone, so I’m really happy with what I did out there.”
Peterson is one of, if not the, most accomplished youth wrestler in the history of Shore Conference wrestling. Peterson’s youth accolades include being a six-time New Jersey state champion, a Super 32 champion, a two-time Tulsa Kickoff champ, Tulsa National champ, two-time Reno Worlds champ and a two-time World Team member. He showed everyone what the hype was all about but winning the Mustang Classic 106-pound title as the No. 9 seed. Peterson bested another standout freshman, Brick Memorial’s Vincent Santaniello, 4-2, in the championship bout. In the semifinals, he defeated reigning Region 6 champion Joey Lamparelli (Allentown), 4-3.
“I feel like I started off a little bit shaky but it was a good tournament,” Peterson said. “I finished strong with a 4-2 win.
Peterson is a state-title contender this season and he didn’t back away from expressing his ultimate goal.
“State champ is the goal,” he said. “Ever since I was 6-years old it was to be a four-time state champ, so that’s what I’m aiming for.”
D’Andrea, a former head coach at Manalapan and a longtime assistant at Brick Memorial when the Mustangs developed into the Shore’s flagship program with five state championships, has coached some great wrestlers. Peterson has the chance to be the best he’s ever coached.
“I think so, yeah,” D’Andrea said. “Right now the best wrestler I ever coached was Nick Angen (two-time state champ at Brick Memorial) and this kid (is right there).”
Caracappa built a 3-1 lead and held on for a 4-3 victory over Paulsboro’s Brandon Green at 170 pounds. Green scored a takedown in the third period to tie the bout at three but cut Caracappa loose to give himself more time to attempt to score the go-ahead takedown. Caracappa was able to hold Green off and come away with the title.
Giannios had a similar bout in defeating Christian Brothers Academy’s Cam DiGiorgio, 5-2, in the 220-pound final to claim his second Mustang Classic title. Giannios led 3-1 heading into the third period and tacked on a late takedown when DiGiorgio went for desperation throw.
Pepe reached the 120-pound final where he fell to Colts Neck’s Joey King, 9-2. Pepe was dominant in the semifinals with an 11-0 win over Paulsboro’s Geno Duca.
Wall junior Rob Kanniard was basically unstoppable in his run to the 160-pound Mustang Classic title with two falls, a technical fall and a major decision. A fourth-place finisher in the state tournament last season, Kanniard put on a clinch against West Windsor-Plainsboro South’s Steven O’Campo in the championship bout with a 19-4 technical fall in 3:16. Kanniard scored five takedowns in the first period then turned O’Campo three times in the second to close out his second Mustang Classic title.
“Everyone likes winning but if you can dominate your opponent - not letting them score, breaking them, not giving them anything - it’s a better feeling,” Kanniard said. “I like to dominate.”
After a sophomore season where he placed fourth in the state tournament at 152 pounds and an offseason where he won a U.S. Cadet Freestyle national championship, Kanniard has his sights set on winning a state championship.
“Freshman year was a good year for me transitioning from middle school to high school and sophomore year I was more comfortable and really getting after it,” Kanniard said. “I was trying to place high (in the state tournament) and I achieved that goal. This year it’s hopefully a state title, that’s the goal.”
King wins Outstanding Wrestler
Colts Neck senior Joey King was selected as the Mustang Classic Outstanding Wrestler by the coaches for his run to the 120-pound championship. King won by fall over Timber Creek’s Kameron Jenkins in the quarterfinals, blanked Rancocas Valley’s Gabe Dollard, 3-0, in the semifinals, and topped St. John Vianney’s Tyler Pepe, 9-2, in the championship bout to win his first Mustang Classic title.
King started fast against Pepe with a takedown and three near-fall points in the first period via a nasty double-armbar. He added a takedown in the second period to go up 7-0 and, after Pepe scored a reversal in the third period, hit a reversal of his own to finish on top and with a 9-2 decision.
A two-time state qualifier, King now has 111 career wins, 10 away from setting the program’s all-time wins mark.
Kelly, Wojdylak Win Titles, Cofone Takes Second
Wall senior Jack Kelly won the 145-pound title, Middletown North’s Stanley Wojdylak took the 152-pound title and Middletown North’s Nicko Cofone took second at 182 pounds.
Kelly won his first Mustang Classic title and earned his third top-three medal by defeating Delsea’s Nick Bennett, 8-5, in the 145-pound final. Kelly held a 3-2 lead after the first period and added a takedown in the second period to take a 5-3 lead into the third. He led 8-3 before Bennett scored with a reversal late in the bout. Kelly had two wins by fall and a 26-11 technical fall in his other three bouts.
Wojdylak also won his first Mustang Classic title and third medal by edging Paulsboro’s George Worthy, 5-4, at 152 pounds. Wojdylak had a takedown in the first period and then led 3-0 in the second before Worthy battled back to tie the bout at three in the third period. Wojdylak hit a reversal to take a 5-3 lead and held on for the one-point victory. In the semifinals, Wojdylak won by 10-0 major decision over Wall’s Jake Whitworth to record his 100th career win. He won by fall in 43 seconds over St. Peter’s Prep’s Quamek Fearon in the quarterfinals.
Cofone was out for revenge against Paulsboro’s Santino Morina in the 182-pound final but fell 3-2 in ultimate tiebreaker. Morina defeated Cofone in the blood round of the state tournament last season.
Cofone had a furious rally to reach the final, however, when he defeated Rancocas Valley’s Drew Bowker, 11-9 in sudden victory overtime, in the semifinals. Down 9-4 in the third period, Cofone escaped making it 9-5 then hit a four-point move to tie the score at nine and force overtime. He then took Bowker down in slick fashion to win the bout and advance to the final.
106: 9-Dean Peterson (St. John Vianney) d. Vincent Santaniello (Brick Memorial) 4-2
113: 3-Brandon LaRue (High Point) d. 1-Georgia Mazzeo (Paulsboro) 3-1
120: 1-Joey King (Colts Neck) d. 3-Tyler Pepe (St. John Vianney) 9-2
126: 1-Michael Kelly (St. Peter's Prep) md. 2-Jacob Perez (Paulsboro) 9-0
132: 11-Nathaniel Camiscoli (St. Peter's Prep) d. 5-Billy Talmadge (High Point) 1-0
138: 1-Shane Kobis (High Point) by forfeit over 2-Conner Kraus (St. Augustine Prep)
145: 1-Jack Kelly (Wall) d. 2-Nick Bennett (Delsea) 8-5
152: 1-Stanley Wojdylak (Middletown North) d. 2-George Worthy (Paulsboro) 5-4
160: 1-Rob Kanniard (Wall) tf. Steven O'Campo (West Windsor-Plainsboro South) 3:16 (19-4)
170: 1-Nick Caracappa (St. John Vianney) d. 2-Brandon Green (Paulsboro) 4-3
182: 1-Santino Morina (Paulsboro) d. 2-Nicko Cofone (Middletown North) 3-2 UTB
195: 2-Tommy Maxwell (Delsea) d. 1-Sean Lenzsch (St. Augustine Prep) 6-5
220: 1-Steven Giannios (St. John Vianney) d. 2-Cam DiGiorgio (CBA) 5-2
HWT: 1-Paul Liseno (St. John Vianney) p. 2-Andrew Chiurazzi (St. Peter's Prep) 0:08
Managing 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.