Road to Atlantic City starts with District 22 tournament

first_imgBy MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent Atlantic City aspirations are on the line as local grapplers gear up for the NJSIAA District 22 wrestling tournament.Raritan High School and Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) fell just shy of sectional titles in the state tournament, which wrapped last week. Long Branch High School also had a strong showing with a first-round win.The Rockets, who earned a No. 2 seed in the Central Jersey Group II bracket, advanced to the sectional championship after defeating sixth-seeded Middlesex High School, 39-25. Delaware Valley Regional High School, the top seed, edged Raritan in a 31-30 final to secure the title.A critical moment came in the 138-pound match between Raritan senior Dylan Seidenberg and Delaware Valley sophomore Connor Mills. Seidenberg, who is 26-1 on the season, came away with the win. But Mills was able to keep it to a three-point decision, preventing Raritan from adding bonus points.CBA ran into a familiar roadblock in the South Jersey Non-Public A finals. St. Augustine Preparatory School defeated the Colts, 33-27, thanks to back-to-back wins in the final two bouts. St. Augustine’s James Brady posted a 3-0 win over William Oxley at 220 pounds. Wrestling at 285 pounds, CBA’s Alex Petrocelli lost to Thomas Lynd, 6-2.Rich Koehler (106), Sebastian Rivera (113), Dylan VanSickell (126) and Liam Gallagher (138) had early pins for CBA.The Colts were the top seed in their section. Following a first-round bye, CBA handily beat Bishop George Ahr High School, 55-6, in the semifinals.Long Branch’s run in the NJSIAA competition ended in the Central Jersey Group III semifinals against Cranford High School. Three pins and a win in the penultimate bout propelled Cranford to a 34-28 victory.The Green Wave kept things close, as Joey Jasio (220) and John Tomlinson (285) each registered late pins. Cranford’s Anthony Capece (106) stopped the bleeding. He won a 6-1 decision over Justin Farnsworth.In the title round, South Plainfield High School slipped past Cranford with a 25-24 win.Raritan, CBA and Long Branch will likely find themselves fighting for the top spots at districts this week. CBA earned the most points in last year’s tournament. Long Branch and Raritan followed in second and third places, respectively.The District 22 tournament is scheduled for Feb. 20-21 at Red Bank Regional High School. District 22 is comprised of Red Bank Regional, Red Bank Catholic High School, CBA, Long Branch, Raritan, Middletown High School South, Middletown High School North, Ocean Township High School, Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School, Keansburg High School and Keyport High School.The grapplers will battle for a spot in the Region 6 tournament, where the top three finishers in each weight class advance to the NJSIAA individual championships in Atlantic City.CBA has a returning District 22 champion, Sebastian Rivera. The 113-pound junior, who holds an undefeated record of 28-0, is a possible favorite to win again after moving up a weight class this year. Expect Ocean Township’s Dave Tieto and Long Branch’s Jason Hernandez, the defending champion, to factor in as well.At 106 pounds, CBA’s Koehler and Long Branch’s Farnsworth are two grapplers to watch.Ocean Township freshman Jake Benner is having a strong first year, going 24-3 on the season. He is a top competitor at 120 pounds, alongside fellow freshman Russell Benson of Raritan.CBA’s VanSickell looks to keep his undefeated season intact. The junior is expected to make a run for gold, but also keep an eye on Long Branch senior Andy Hernandez.The competition at 132 pounds will be fierce. Rumson-Fair Haven standout Marcus Iwama is 26-1 in his senior season, matching the record of Raritan’s Seidenberg. The two grapplers could easily meet in the finals.Eric Drake, a Raritan senior, and CBA’s Gallagher, also a senior, are positioned to compete for first place at 138 pounds.Middletown North has a strong chance of seeing a winner at 145 pounds, given that senior Paul Capaldo has a 25-3 record and plenty of experience. The class also includes Raritan senior Mike Chadwick and juniors Thomas Hinz of Red Bank Regional and Danny Mullan of Long Branch.Crosstown rival Middletown South may be represented in the winners’ column as well. Senior Matt Best, who has gone 21-4 this year, is the top wrestler to watch at 152 pounds. Ocean Township junior T.J. Saldutti holds good odds, too.CBA junior Chris Koutzen, Middletown North sophomore Thomas Anderson and Raritan junior Nick Bohal could battle for the top position at 160 pounds. The top competitors in the 170-pound class include Ocean Township senior Zach Hertling and Middletown North junior Fred Svenson.At 182 pounds, Middletown North’s Anthony Vetrano, a junior, is 25-3 on the season. Also in line for a medal are CBA junior Jack LaCorte, Keansburg senior Dylan Alt and Keyport junior Ken Harrigan, whose season record is 17-6. Red Bank Catholic will bring a senior in Andrew Sita.Keansburg also has a potential favorite at 195 pounds. Senior Tyree Sutton has yet to post a loss after 28 bouts. Middletown North junior Chad Freshnock is in the mix as well.CBA’s Oxley and Long Branch’s Jasio, both juniors, have the edge against their competing 220-pound wrestlers in District 22. Among the heavyweights, look for Long Branch junior Tomlinson and Raritan senior Malcolm Daniels to bring home medals.last_img

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