By sweeping a quad meet Jan. 16, South Brunswick High School’s wrestling team upped its record to 6-5 and is well-positioned for a strong finish in the regular season, coach Bobby Januska said.
The Vikings turned in a solid all-around showing in the quad, downing Ridge High School, 56-15, North Brunswick Township High School, 54-27, and New Brunswick High School, 45-31. Brian DiBartolo turned in three straight pins at 160 pounds, while Sean Lubiak (103) and Nick Daza (145) had two pins apiece.
“It really felt good to get three wins in one day,” Januska said. “Sometimes I don’t think we’ve wrestled as well as we can and we’ve lost some close matches. A couple of guys have been battling through injuries, but even though we don’t have as much depth as in the past, this is still a good team.”
Daza, a-co-captain, reached the finals of tournaments in Mahwah and Collingswood earlier in the season, and Max Rhoden (195) leads the team with a 15-4 record. Rhoden had a strong showing in Mahwah, where he took first place in his division.
Lubiak and Matthew Castimore (113), both sophomores, are each 14-4. Lubiak has worked hard to make 103 pounds, where he has excelled. Castimore, who won 19 bouts as a freshman, has worked hard to improve his technique and it helped him win his division in Mahwah.
Seniors Dean Elmenayer (heavyweight), Josh Hypolite (220) and Andrew Chang (126/132) have all won important matches for the Vikings, and the three have individual marks at about .500. Co-captain Mikey Klimkiewicz (126) is 10-7 and sophomore Roger Sheffmaker (120) is 8-7 and gaining more confidence thanks to his ability to make adjustments during matches. In addition, Adishesh Yerigudi (152/160) has just returned to the lineup following an injury.
“We have 10 seniors and they’re starting to set a tone, and that’s important because they need to go out knowing they did their best,” the coach said. “They’re all contributing. Right now, our primary goal is to keep improving to set ourselves up for the districts. That means working together and getting every possible point. We want them to win big and lose small.”
Neighboring North Brunswick has struggled this winter and is just 2-8. But with 12 freshmen on the roster, the future is bright, coach Mark Salge noted.
“Our guys don’t have a lot of varsity experience and a lot of them are also seeing time on the junior varsity,” Salge said. “For the most part, I like the competitiveness and the guys are hanging in there. I’m proud of our freshmen because in most cases, they are wrestling up and that’s tough for any wrestler.”
Sophomore Kenny Abode (170) is making his mark and has 11 wins to his credit. After turning in 19 victories as a freshman, Abode worked hard in the offseason to upgrade his skills and Salge tapped the young grappler to be the Raiders’ captain.
“Kenny works hard in the room; he’s kind of quiet, but he leads by example and that’s what we need,” the coach said. “He had a really good freshman year and this year it’s been even harder for him because for the most part he’s going against upperclassmen that are bigger and stronger. He’s done an outstanding job, and he’s really still learning. Kenny’s just going to keep getting better.”
Senior John Santiago (132) has been another bright spot with six wins. Several freshmen are also doing well. Cesar Lopez (126) has four wins, John Helstowski (195) has three victories and Louis Liraanzo (120) and Jhojan Mendoza (182) have two wins apiece.
“I’m very excited with all of our young wrestlers,” Salge said. “This is going to be a very good team in a year or two.”
Indoor track and field
South Brunswick’s girls won the NJSIAA Group IV Relay championship for a second straight season, edging Southern Regional High School by just three points. The Lady Vikings’ high jump tandem of Courtney Campbell (5-2) and Sydney Schneider (5-0) and the pole vault duo of Maggie Kaplan and Daniella Izzo, who both jumped 9-6, both took first-place honors.
Essence Baker, Brianna Araque, Latisha Witherspoon, and Desirae Osley combined to finish second in both the 4×200-meter (1:47.93) and 4×400 (4:04.59) races. The latter is a season-best time. South Brunswick’s shuttle hurdle team of Schneider, Misha Duverger, Sabrina Ray, and Nicole Notarianni finished fourth.