Howell High School continues to rack up victories on the wrestling mats this season.
The undefeated Rebels were dominant in their 60-11 victory over Marlboro High School on Jan. 3 in Marlboro. The victory was the 10th overall this season for Howell, which is also 2-0 in the Shore Conference A North Division.
The Rebels won 11 matches on the night, including five by pin, two by decision and four by forfeit. Senior Chris DeMarco (182 pounds), junior Xavier Kelly (152), junior Pierce Gomez (145), senior Jerry Lleshi (120) and senior Jesse Liptzin (106) won their matches by a pin.
The Mustangs were able to win three matches. Matthew Weinstock scored a major decision at 138 pounds, Alan Lipovetsky won by a decision at 132 pounds and junior captain Cristian Rial recorded a decision at 126 pounds.
Kelly pointed out that their togetherness has made Howell that much more dangerous this year, one season after Howell claimed the NJSIAA Group 5 tournament championship. That group state title was the first for the program.
“We all stuck together,” he said. “We picked each other up and just kept encouraging each other. That’s been the difference. We all have each others’ backs.”
Kelly also knows that the team can’t become complacent with its undefeated record, stating that every day it should strive to be even better.
“There’s a lot of things we need to work on,” Kelly said. “There’s always something. You have to be better no matter what. Even if you win, you still have to keep going — keep working and striving to be better.”
The Rebels posted a 30-1 record last year. Along with winning the Group 5 state title, Howell captured the District 22 and Shore Conference tournament championships while also claiming the Shore Conference A North Division crown.
Howell was successful again on the mats on Jan. 6 when it hosted Kittatinny Regional High School. Five pins by Howell wrestlers were key to the 53-14 victory.
Kittatinny also lost to fellow premier program Hunterdon Central Regional High School, 46-19, in the tri-meet at Howell. Hunterdon Central had handed Howell its only loss of the 2016-17 season, but then the Rebels gained revenge when they beat the school from Flemington in the Group 5 title meet.
The Rebels traveled to Manalapan High School on Jan. 8 and will visit Colts Neck High School on Jan. 10 at 5:30 p.m.
The loss dropped the Mustangs’ record to 0-3 this season. Coach Charlie Frankel was still proud of the way his team competed, stating that it is the Mustang way.
“I loved their effort,” Frankel said. “I don’t ask every time to win matches. This is a top 10 team in the state that we just faced. I asked them to go out there and give me 110 percent every match, every time — attitude, effort, urgency. So I liked what I saw today.”
Rial also credited the team’s growth, stating that they are competing a lot more now than earlier in the year.
“I feel like our team is a lot better now than in our other matches,” he said. “We got shut out earlier this year [against Monroe Township High School, 65-0, on Dec. 20], and that team was a lot worse than these guys are. Today, we came out here and did what we had to do to get those wins.”
The two also want to see continued improvement, and Frankel noted that becoming a team is one of Marlboro’s goals.
“I think when you start becoming a team, winning is contagious,” he said. “Everything is contagious. Becoming a team will affect the way we perform.”
“I think we can still work on some of the basics,” Rial said. “We can get better at the main stuff. When we master the basics, we can move on to the more advance stuff and really start putting together wins.”
The Mustangs were home to Christian Brothers Academy on Jan. 8. The team will visit Edison High School on Jan. 11 at 7 p.m.