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Howell, Saint John Vianney, Raritan claim district wrestling titles

Kyle Slendorn of Howell defeats Matt Sacco of Bridgewater-Raritan in the 113 lb. weight class in the semi-finals of the NJSIAA State Group team wrestling championships at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River on Feb 14.

Howell High School and Saint John Vianney High School each tacked on another championship, while Rartian High School also claimed a title, when the state district wrestling tournaments concluded at 32 sites.

With the districts completed on Feb. 17, the next step for the wrestlers will be the region tournaments that will be held at eight gyms across New Jersey. The top three finishers in each weight class from each of the 32 districts advanced to the regions that open on Feb. 21.

Monmouth and Ocean county wrestlers will participate at Region 5 at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, Region 6 at Brick Memorial High School and Region 7 at Pine Belt Arena, which is located at Toms River High School North’s campus.

The regions will continue on Feb. 23 and wrap up on Feb. 24. Unlike the district format regarding the qualifiers, the top four finishers in each weight class will advance to the state tournament that will be wrestled at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

The state tournament, which will field 32 wrestlers per weight class, will start on March 2, continue on March 3 and then end on March 4. The top eight finishers in each weight division will receive a state medal on that final day.

Howell, which won its second straight Group 5 state tournament team championship on Feb. 11, also repeated as a district king when the Rebels won the District 22 title on its own mats in Howell.

Howell gained the top prize on the strength of six wrestlers winning titles.

Kyle Slendorn, who was the state tournament runner-up at 126 pounds in 2017, claimed his fourth district title when he placed first at 132. His teammate, Darby Diedrich, won the 126-pound class for his third district championship.

Also winning district titles for Howell were 138-pounder Daniel Esposito and 170-pounder Shane Reitsma, who each captured a second district title, and 113-pounder Jerry Lleshi and 182-pounder Christian Murphy.

Saint John Vianney won its first district crown when the Lancers finished atop District 19, which was wrestled at Delaware Valley Regional High School in Alexandria.

Saint John Vianney, which won its first Shore Conference Tournament championship this winter, was steered to the team title behind its five winners. The champion Lancers were 106-pounder Dean Peterson, 132-pounder Charles Peterson, 152-pounder Blake Clayton, 220-pounder Steven Giannios and heavyweight Paul Liseno.

Raritan won District 20 at South Brunswick High School behind a school-record six champions. Robert Taddeo (113 pounds), Russell Benson (132), AJ Erven (138), Christian Sookdeo (145), Anthony Aquilano (160) and Ethan Wolf (220).

At Howell, Allentown High School advanced seven wrestlers to Region 6 at Brick Memorial, including its District 22 champion, Joey Lamparelli, who retained his 106-pound title.

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