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Area wrestlers move on to state finals in Atlantic City

Princeton’s Daniel Monahan (front) tries to gain position on Middletown North’s Andrew Lacey (back) during their 120-lb. match at the NJSIAA Region V Wrestling Tournament held at the Hunterdon Central High School Fieldhouse in Flemington on February 22.

By Matthew Rocco

It was a big weekend for Shore Conference wrestling, as 25 grapplers from area schools booked a ticket to Atlantic City for the state championships.

Middletown High School North and Saint John Vianney High School each sent five wrestlers to the NJSIAA finals, which are scheduled to begin March 3 in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) and Long Branch High School also will be well-represented, with four wrestlers from each school ready to compete for an individual title.

At the Region 5 tournament, Tyler Klinsky was the first Middletown North freshman to win gold at regions since 2004, taking first place at 106 pounds. The Lions had four third-place finishers. Freddy Luchs (113 pounds), Stanley Wojdylak (145), Nicko Cofone (160) and Thomas Anderson (182) advanced to the finals with third-place showings. Luchs and Klinsky, both freshmen, have reached the 30-win milestone this season.

Nicholas Caracappa (170) became just the fourth region title-winner in St. John Vianney’s history. Tyler Pepe (106) and Steven Giannios (220) won bronze medals at the Region 5 tournament. Jack McLafferty (138) and Josiah Walker (182) extended their seasons with fourth-place showings. The school set a record with five wrestlers going to the state championships.

For the first time, fourth-place finishers across the eight regions advanced to the championship round. In past seasons, only the top three wrestlers in each weight class went to Atlantic City. The change was made following a realignment.

Long Branch had three third-place finishers at the Region 6 tournament in Peter Wersinger (182), Hunter Marhan (220) and Kevin Cerruti (heavyweight). Freshman Ryan Zimmerman (106) placed fourth.

Also at the Region 6 tournament, CBA’s Richie Koehler won his second career region championship as a junior, taking the 113-pound title. Senior Nick Schutzenhofer (106) went home from regions with a gold medal for the first time in his career. The Colts also will send Sam Houstan (182) and Cameron DiGiorgio (195) to the finals.

The Region 5 tournament was a historic moment for Holmdel High School. Junior Scott Dupont (152), who logged his 100th win over the weekend, became the Hornets’ first championship qualifier since 1984 by placing third.

Matawan Regional High School and Raritan High School will have representatives in Boardwalk Hall, too.

Derrick Wiley was the first Huskies wrestler to reach a regional final since 2010. The senior was the runner-up at 170 pounds in Region 7.

Russell Benson of the Rockets will be in Atlantic City for the second year in a row. The 132-pound grappler capped his gold-medal run with a pin of South River High School’s Joey Zargo in the Region 6 finals. Benson became the seventh regional champion in the history of the program.

The NJSIAA wrestling championships will run March 3-5 at Boardwalk Hall. The tournament will begin at 2:30 p.m. March 3.

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