Hard working and talented are two ways to describe the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School wrestling team.
And that is why this team has been very successful to start the 2019-2020 season.
The Bulldogs are out to a rocking 7-1 record and the squad believes they can make a run at a state sectional and state championship this winter.
“We have a good team with a lot of good kids on it,” said Rumson-Fair Haven coach Bryan Heller. “They’re all training hard. The kids know what it takes to win and have the same goals. We’re all in this together.”
Rumson-Fair Haven is led by junior twins Max and Tyler Brignola in the middle weights.
Max Brignola has had an excellent season wrestling at 145 and 152 pounds, standing unbeaten with a 14-0 mark this winter. The junior won both the Caldwell and Holmdel Christmas tournaments this season.
A state tournament qualifier last year, Max Brignola hopes to have a chance at winning a state championship in Atlantic City after missing out by one victory to place in the top eight to earn a medal at the state tournament last season.
The junior is considered by his coaches as a tempo setter for the team, helping lead the way with his performance and hard work on and off the mat.
“I love how my teammates look up to me and how I look up to them,” Max Brignola said. “I like leading by example. I like helping the kids learn and giving them a good mentality about this sport. Win and losses don’t matter. It’s all about having fun and scoring points.”
Max’s twin brother Tyler has also been stellar this winter so far for the Bulldogs. The junior scored a huge in the first period pin at 152 pounds to help seal the team’s 44-26 dual meet victory against Shore Conference A-Central Division foe Holmdel High School on Jan. 8.
Tyler Brignola is 7-1 in the team’s dual matches this season, making the twin brothers a combined 15-1.
“We’re all working hard in the room every day,” Tyler Brignola said. “It’s great to see everyone put in their work and for it to show off on the mat. The Bulldogs are ready this year and they’re coming for a sectional championship.”
Senior Liam Horan anchors the higher weight classes at 195 and 220 pounds.
Coming off a junior campaign where he finished second at the District 12 Tournament and was one place short at Region 5 from qualifying for the state tournament, Horan is determined to be wrestling in Atlantic City this winter.
“I’m currently focused on getting better with my skills on the mat and improving my stamina to help our team make it to states this season,” Horan said.”
Horan dug deep and showed off his stamina by getting a huge 4-2 decision over Holmdel’s Victor Wladica in overtime to help Rumson-Fair Haven pick up its fifth victory of the season. The senior kept driving his feet to get the takedown in overtime and keep the Bulldogs unbeaten.
Jack Kelly (170 and 182) and Shay Addison (160) are both undefeated this season for Rumson-Fair Haven.
Aiden Shaughnessy (126), Tristan Izzo (132) and Dylan Herman (195 and 220) have all wrestled well on mat to help the Bulldogs.
The Bulldog suffered its only loss of the season during the Livingston High School quad meet on Jan. 11, losing to powerhouse Seton Hall Prep, 43-27.
As the team continues to train for its postseason tournaments, Heller has made it a point of emphasis for the Bulldogs to take care of the things off the mat to help them succeed on it.
“We just have to stay focused in the practice room,” Heller said. “We try to get better in different positions in every practice. We try to keep our condition going up and keep to our strength training and diet programs. All the stuff off the mat that can get in the way, we try to take care of and the rest of the stuff on the mat will take care of itself.”
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