Wrestling – Raritan Blasts Holmdel to Complete Dominant Run to Central Jersey Group 2 Title
The deciding match was a bit anticlimactic - a 48-point win over a team it had already beat handily during the regular season - but that did little to dull the joy of finally being able to hoist another sectional championship.
Raritan took care of business as expected on Friday night with a 56-12 victory over Holmdel to capture the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 championship, giving the Rockets their third sectional title in program history and first since 2012. Just as they did in a 58-13 regular-season win over the Hornets, the Rockets won 11 of the 14 bouts to advance to Sunday's NJSIAA Group 2 semifinals where they will face off against North 2, Group 2 champion Hanover Park at 11:30 a.m. at RWJBarnabas Health Arena on the campus of Toms River High School North. The winner will advance to meet the winner of the Point Boro/High Point match in the Group 2 final at 5 p.m.
"Since 2012 it's been a frustrating road of losing to DelVal and I'm glad we got to see them in the semifinals," said Raritan head coach Rob Nucci. "I think the boys are wrestling the best they have all year and we're excited for the opportunity on Sunday."
Raritan and Delaware Valley have plenty of history in the NJSIAA tournament that included the Terriers winning the last three sectional finals - all in DelVal's home gym. The Terriers went on to win the overall Group 2 title last season. This year Raritan was able to secure the No. 1 seed and make DelVal take the drive to Hazlet for the first time. The Rockets scored an emphatic 50-9 victory in the semifinals.
On Friday night it was Robert Taddeo (113), Mike Lonnay (120), Russell Benson (132), George Burdick (182) and Ethan Wolf (220) winning by fall to lead the way. A.J. Erven (138) and Nick Polaco (152) won by technical fall and Justin Acevedo (195) won by major decision.
The last time Raritan headed to Toms River for the state championships it came away with the overall Group 2 title, it's first and only state group title in program history. To get back to the top of the mountain again the Rockets will first need to get through a Hanover Park team that has a powerful group of lowerweights led by returning state champion and Arizona State recruit Nick Raimo. Raritan is ranked No. 16 in the NJWWA Top 20 and Hanover Park is ranked No. 9. From there it would be a matchup against either fellow Shore Conference sectional champion Point Boro or High Point, which is ranked No. 10 in the state.
"This senior class, I called them the young guns when they were freshmen and now they have an opportunity to win a state championship," Nucci said. "We're the top seed and we have a tough Hanover Park team in the first round. We'll go out there and give it everything we have."
Raritan 56, Holmdel 12
Hwt: Matt Spirko (R) d. Victor Kizenko 5-3
106: Nick Ammirati (H) p. Jordan Rafalko 4:52
113: Robert Taddeo (R) p. Brandon Ericksen 2:34
120: Mike Lonnay (R) p. Matteo Pinnero 2:55
126: Cameron Rafalko (R) d. Tom Ammirati 3-1 SV
132: Russell Benson (R) p. Ian Flanagan 1:51
138: A.J. Erven (R) tf. Zack Wolf 4:48 (24-9)
145: Dean Gallo (H) d. Christian Sookdeo 7-4
152: Nick Polaco (R) tf. Chris Bell 4:47 (17-1)
160: Scott Dupont (H) d. James Ecklyn 8-3
170: Anthony Aquilano (R) by forfeit
182: George Burdick (R) p. Shaun Hsueh 0:22
195: Justin Acevedo (R) md. Victor Wladica 8-0
220: Ethan Wolf (R) p. Michael Pavlinetz 0:44
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.