By Matthew Rocco
Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) saw three of its wrestlers win gold to carry the Colts to a third straight NJSIAA District 22 team title.
Senior Sebastian Rivera, a Northwestern University commit, earned his third career victory at districts, pinning Middletown High School North’s Sean Deering in the 113-pound championship bout. Nick Schutzenhofer defeated Charles Barrale of Raritan High School for the 106-pound title, and Jack LaCorte (195 pounds) was a winner over Middletown High School South’s Robert Hulse.
CBA had second-place finishers in Richie Koehler (120), Carl Vasti (138) and Will Oxley (heavyweight). Dylan VanSickell (132), Ben Kuhn (145) and Garret Fitzgerald (160) also punched tickets to the Region 6 tournament by taking third place in their respective weight classes.
The Colts edged Long Branch High School for the District 22 team title, amassing 187 points to the Green Wave’s 184. Middletown North followed in third place with 135 points. Raritan was close behind at 128 points.
Red Bank Regional High School hosted the tournament Feb. 19-20.
CBA’s Russ Witt was named Coach of the Year after the District 22 championship. The Colts also won the Shore Conference Tournament and shared the Class A North Division title in what has been the program’s finest season.
Long Branch led the District 22 field with five individual champions: Danny Mullan (145), Mike Shohet (152), Lamont Reid (160), Joey Jasio (220) and John Tomlinson (heavyweight). Tomlinson emerged as the heavyweight champion after a 4-3 battle with the top seed, Oxley.
Middletown North star senior Anthony Vetrano became the all-time wins leader for the Lions with his victory in the semifinals. Vetrano went on to win the 182-pound title by defeating Theo Addison of Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School. Also for Middletown North, top-seeded Stanley Wojdylak beat Vasti in the 138-pound championship.
Thanks to Russell Benson, Raritan has now gone home from districts with at least one champion for 14 straight years. Benson (126) pinned Red Bank Regional’s Adel Soliman in the title round.
The award for Most Outstanding Wrestler went to Dave Tieto. The Ocean Township High School senior toppled CBA’s Koehler, the No. 1 seed and defending champion at 120 pounds, by a score of 9-4.
Ocean Township had a strong showing overall, as T.J. Saldutti earned the gold medal at 170 pounds and undefeated sophomore Jake Benner (132) won his second title in as many years. Benner won a major decision over Long Branch’s T.J. Conlon. Saldutti defeated Thomas Anderson of Middletown North. As a team, the Spartans grabbed fifth place with 106.5 points.
The top three wrestlers in each weight class advanced to the Region 6 tournament at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River. The tournament began with early rounds Feb. 24. Wrestling will continue Feb. 26-27.
The top three at the region tournament advance to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for the state individual championships March 4-6.