Howell wins second straight SCT team title; Colts Neck’s Waller named OW

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Howell High School wrestler Shane Reitsma works over Saint John Vianney High School's Michael Foley during their 170 pound Round of 16 match in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31. Reitsma went on to finish first in the tournament for his second conference championship. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Saint John Vianney High School wrestler Dean Peterson controls Marlboro High School's Michael Bruno on the mat during their Round of 16 match at 120 pounds in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31. Peterson went won to win his third straight individual conference championship. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School North wrestler Tyler Klinsky prepares to slam Monmouth Regional High School's Shane Learn to the mat during their Round of 16 contest at 113 pounds in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31. Klinsky totaled 71 points to win his second straight individual conference championship.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Manalapan High School wrestler Matt Benedetti scores two points on the take of Toms River South High School's Andrew Ganun during their Round of 16 match at 160 pounds in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31. Benedetti went on to win his first career individual conference championship.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School wrestler Max Brignola competes in his 145 pound Round of 16 match on Jan. 31 during the Shore Conference Tournament. Brignola went on to win his first career individual conference championship.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Howell High School wrestler Nieko Malone pushes Monmouth Regional High School's Devon Pham down to the mat during their Round of 16 match at 126 pounds in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31. Howell won its second straight Shore Conference Tournament team championship.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Holmdel High School wrestler Michael Pavlinetz throws Red Bank Regional High School's Anthony Gaeta down to the mat during their Round of 16 match at 220 pounds in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Colts Neck High School wrestler Tom Lindonici squares off against Long Branch High School's Matt Guidetti during their Round of 16 match at 285 pounds in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Howell High School wrestler Shane Reitsma works over Saint John Vianney High School's Michael Foley during their 170 pound Round of 16 match in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31. Reitsma went on to finish first in the tournament for his second conference championship. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Saint John Vianney High School wrestler Dean Peterson controls Marlboro High School's Michael Bruno on the mat during their Round of 16 match at 120 pounds in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31. Peterson went won to win his third straight individual conference championship. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School North wrestler Tyler Klinsky prepares to slam Monmouth Regional High School's Shane Learn to the mat during their Round of 16 contest at 113 pounds in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31. Klinsky totaled 71 points to win his second straight individual conference championship.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Manalapan High School wrestler Matt Benedetti scores two points on the take of Toms River South High School's Andrew Ganun during their Round of 16 match at 160 pounds in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31. Benedetti went on to win his first career individual conference championship.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School wrestler Max Brignola competes in his 145 pound Round of 16 match on Jan. 31 during the Shore Conference Tournament. Brignola went on to win his first career individual conference championship.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Howell High School wrestler Nieko Malone pushes Monmouth Regional High School's Devon Pham down to the mat during their Round of 16 match at 126 pounds in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31. Howell won its second straight Shore Conference Tournament team championship.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Holmdel High School wrestler Michael Pavlinetz throws Red Bank Regional High School's Anthony Gaeta down to the mat during their Round of 16 match at 220 pounds in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Colts Neck High School wrestler Tom Lindonici squares off against Long Branch High School's Matt Guidetti during their Round of 16 match at 285 pounds in the Shore Conference Tournament on Jan. 31. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

Howell High School stole the show as a team while individual wrestlers shined from Saint John Vianney High School, Colts Neck High School, Manalapan High School, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, Jackson Memorial High School and Middletown High School North when the Shore Conference Tournament was completed on Feb. 1.

The third installment of the Shore Conference Tournament individual format was wrestled on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at Red Bank Regional High School.

The Shore Conference went to its present format in 2018 when the event became an individual tournament while a team champion was also crowned. That format is used by other counties and conferences throughout New Jersey.

Before the 2018 season, the Shore Conference Tournament was a dual format. A team was named champion by winning all of its dual matches. That is the format used to decide the state group team championships each winter.

Howell claimed its second straight team championship while Saint John Vianney state champion Dean Peterson rolled to his third conference title.

Also grabbing the attention were Colts Neck’s Logan Waller, Manalapan’s Matt Benedetti, Rumson-Fair Haven’s Max Brignola, Jackson Memorial’s Kyle Epperly and Middletown North’s Tyler Klinsky.

Here’s a recap of the tournament.

Howell continues its dominance in the Shore Conference

The best team on the mat in the Shore Conference was once again Howell. The Rebels scored 151.5 to win their second straight championship.

Toms River High School North placed second in the team standings with 127.5 points.

According to this week’s state , Howell is the top Group 5 team in all of New Jersey with 37.80 points. The Shore Conference, in fact, is the owner of the top four Group 5 teams in the state. Toms River North is second with 37.80 power points, Southern Regional High School is third with 36.80 and Manalapan High School is fourth with 35.70. The power points determine what teams qualify for the state sectional team tournament that starts Feb. 10.

Before the Shore Conference Tournament was changed from settling a champion from dual matches to an individual format in 2018, Howell won the conference tournament in both 2014 and 2017. The Rebels finished in second place in 2018.

“They really wrestled well,” said Howell coach John Gagliano. “The Shore Conference Tournament is very competitive. Our guys really push each other to work hard and do well in the tournament. It’s great to see a lot of our guys have success. Very proud of them.”

Seniors Shane Reitsma, a 170-pounder, and heavyweight Justin Wright each captured a gold medal in the tournament for Howell.

It’s the second conference championship for Reitsma, who also secured another personal milestone when he won his 150th career match with his major decision 11-3 victory over Jackson Memorial’s Hunter Smith in the final.

Reitsma has medaled three times at the Shore Conference Tournament in his career.

It was a big day for Wright, who has developed from being just an average wrestler to a conference champion in four years because of his hard work ethic, said Gagliano.

Wright edged Toms River North High School’s John O’Donnell for a 3-2 decision to win his first Shore Conference championship.

Howell now has a total of eight wrestlers in its program’s history to win a conference championship.

Paul Jakub placed third in the tournament at 152 pounds for the Rebels, while teammate Neiko Malone finished in fourth place at 126.

Colin Bradshaw (113 pounds), Kyle Nase (120), Isaiah Fenton (138) and Nick Cerulli (182) all medaled in the tournament for Howell. 

Three-Peat for Saint John Vianney’s Peterson

There was no stopping junior Dean Peterson from bringing home his third individual Shore Conference Tournament championship for Saint John Vianney in the 120-pound bracket.

Peterson dominated his opponents heading into the final when he recorded victories via technical fall, major decision and pin.

Facing off against Brick Memorial High School’s Vin Santaniello for the third straight year in the final, Peterson once again got the best of Santaniello, earning 5-3 decision victory to be crowned conference champion yet again.

Peterson, who is last year’s 113-pound state champion, is currently committed to Princeton University.

Seth Rotondella placed fourth in the tournament for the Lancers at 132 pounds.

Waller wins OW award for Colts Neck

Colts Neck’s Logan Waller became the program’s first individual conference champion and did it in style, being named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler when he won the 138-pound title.

Coming in as the No. 4 seed, Waller cruised to the semifinals with two straight pins. He knocked off the No. 1 seed, Al De Santis of Shore Regional High School, in the semifinals, 7-5.

Just like his first two victories of the tournament, Walle, a junior, secured his first career conference championship with a fall in the third period over Long Branch High School’s Ryan Zimmerman in the final.

Teammate Luke Rada took home a silver medal at 182 pounds for the Cougars, while Kenny Koenig earned a bronze medal at 195 pounds.

Michael Lyristis (106) and Nick Moldaver (138) both medaled in the tournament for Colts Neck, which finished seventh in the team standings. 

Benedetti wins Manalapan’s second individual Shore title

Senior Matt Benedetti brought home the Manalapan program’s second Shore Conference Tournament individual championship, battling off Rumson-Fair Haven’s Shay Addison for a 5-1 decision in the final at 160 pounds.

Benedetti has medaled three times in the conference tournament for the Braves.

Teammate Hunter Konstantoulas (145) finished second for Manalapan.

Justin Schifter (113), Dylan Waller (170), Gavin Claro (182) and Matt Kovacs (285) all medaled in the tournament for the Braves. 

Manalapan topped Colts Neck by five points to finish sixth in the team standings.

Brignola highlights banner day for the Bulldogs

Junior Max Brignola became Rumson-Fair Haven’s second wrestler in program history to win a Shore Conference title, defeating Manalapan’s Hunter Konstantoulas in the 145-pound final by a 19-7 major decision.

Brignola showed a lot of toughness and heart in the tournament, battling what appeared to be a knee injury during his Round of 16 match against Toms River High School North’s Sergio Borda.

The junior came out of the match with a 18-5 major decision and showed no setbacks in the quarterfinals and semifinals, winning both bouts via pin fall as he advanced to the finals to win his first conference title.

Brignola also won his 100th career match during the semifinals of the tournament.

Following Shay Addison’s second place at 160 pounds, teammate Jack Kelly scored a third- place finish at 170 pounds for the Bulldogs by rolling to a 11-2 major decision victory over Lacey High School’s Jackson Brandt.

Aidan Shaughnessy placed fourth at 113 pounds for the Bulldogs in the tournament.

Liam Horan (195) and Tyler Brignola (152) all medaled for Rumson-Fair Haven in the tournament.

Rumson-Fair Haven finished tied with Jackson Memorial for fourth place in the team standings.

Brick Memorial finished ahead of both Rumson-Fair Haven and Jackson Memorial in third place.

Epperly rolls to second conference championship

Senior Kyle Epperly made his presence felt in the 195-pound class when he coasted to win his second straight individual conference title for Jackson Memorial.

Epperly scored two falls in under a minute to advance to the semifinals, following that up with a 19-8 major decision in the semifinals and then rolling through Brick Memorial’s David Szuba in the final with a 10-3 victory.

The Jaguars now have three individual conference championships in their program’s history.

Brett Blaess pinned Middletown South’s Jack Zaleski in the 106-pound third-place match to help Jackson Memorial have three wrestlers place in the top-three of their respective weight classes.

Teammate Brad Galassi finished tied with Middletown North’s Nico Cerbo for fourth place in the 220-pound bracket.

Luke Temple (120) medaled in the tournament for the Jaguars.

Klinsky puts on a show in his final conference appearance

Middletown North’s Tyler Klinsky was all business to run to winning his second straight conference title.

Standing tall in last year’s 106-pound bracket, Klinsky was the top dog at 113 pounds this year, defeating Toms River North’s Ryan Rosenthal by a 10-3 decision.

Klinsky scored 71 points during his four matches in the tournament. The senior was the state championship runner-up last year at 106 pounds.

Thomas O’Keefe finished second for the Lions in the 126 pound weight class, while teammates Fred Luchs (120) and Nico Cebro (220) each placed fourth.

The Holmdel High School wrestling team had two wrestlers medal in the conference tournament in Victor Wladica (170) and Michael Pavlinetz (220).

Red Bank Catholic had fourth-place finisher in Aidan Meyler-McAuliffe at 195 pounds, while Sabino Portella (160) also medaled into the tournament for the Caseys.

For the Christian Brothers Academy wrestling team, Tyler Barrett placed fourth in the 145-pound bracket.

Harrison Gordon (106) and Zach Vasile (138) both placed into the top-six in the tournament for Marlboro High School.

David Rubin of Matawan Regional High School took home a bronze medal in at 113 pounds. Kamrin O’Neill (126) placed in the top-six as well for the Huskies.

Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports