Middletown South wrestlers off to winning start in 2021

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Middletown High School South 132-pounder Robert Generelli controls Marlboro's Michael Bruno in a 12-3 major decision on March 25 in Marlboro. Middletown South won the dual meet 55-12.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School South 145-pounder Alex Quintano rallies back in the third period to defeat Marlboro's Kevin McBride by an 11-7 decision on March 25 in Marlboro.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School South 126-pounder Travis Tuminelli pins Marlboro's Alexander Palagano at the 3:06 mark during their match on March 25 in Marlboro.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School South 160-pounder Nick Holland gets a double-leg takedown on Marlboro's Gavin McQuade during their match on March 25 in Marlboro. Holland won the match by a 6-5 decision. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School South 132-pounder Robert Generelli controls Marlboro's Michael Bruno in a 12-3 major decision on March 25 in Marlboro. Middletown South won the dual meet 55-12.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School South 145-pounder Alex Quintano rallies back in the third period to defeat Marlboro's Kevin McBride by an 11-7 decision on March 25 in Marlboro.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School South 126-pounder Travis Tuminelli pins Marlboro's Alexander Palagano at the 3:06 mark during their match on March 25 in Marlboro.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School South 160-pounder Nick Holland gets a double-leg takedown on Marlboro's Gavin McQuade during their match on March 25 in Marlboro. Holland won the match by a 6-5 decision. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

The Middletown South High School wrestling team is rolling strong to begin the 2021 campaign that has been compressed during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Eagles moved to 4-0 in dual meets with a 55-12 victory over Shore Conference A North Division foe Marlboro High School on March 25 in Marlboro. The Eagles recorded four pins and won 11 bouts against the Mustangs.

The competitiveness and success shown by the Eagles in their first four dual meets reflect the growth of the program over the past few seasons in the eyes of Coach Anton Atterbury.

“The kids have been working hard for sure,” Atterbury said after the dual meet. “A lot of them have been in the lineup for a couple of years and they took their licks. After putting the time in, they are starting to see the dividends.”

Travis Tuminelli (126) has come on strong to begin the season. He recorded his third pin against Marlboro.

Sophomore David Hussey (138) scored the second pin of the night for the Eagles after Robert Generelli (132) won his match by a 12-3 major decision.

Atterbury said he is excited to see how those three wrestlers will perform during the rest of the season.

Jack Zaleski (120) is primed to build upon the fifth place medal he earned at the state tournament a year ago as a freshman. Zaleski won by forfeit at Marlboro and remained undefeated.

Winning a state championship is his goal.

“I’m just excited to wrestle again and to make another run at states,” Zaleski said. “I’m excited to compete with my team. We are bonding well as a team. We have been improving every year and have the urge to win.”

Middletown South won the first four bouts against Marlboro and led 19-0 following junior Alex Quintano’s come-from-behind 11-7 victory over Kevin Bride at 145 pounds.

Marlboro got on the board in the 152-pound match as senior Zach Vasile won by a 4-0 decision over Owen Fitzgerald.

The Eagles extended their lead in the dual meet to 22-3 at 160 pounds as junior Nick Holland won by a 6-5 decision over Gavin McQuade.

“It feels amazing,” Holland said about his victory. “All the work we put in (at practice) is showing in our matches. We’re 4-0 and we have beaten some good teams by big margins.”

After Mike Malucelli scored Marlboro’s only pin at 170 pounds, Middletown South rebounded in the upper weights. Jack Willi (195) and Matthew Cody (220) won by pin and Sean Fitzpatrick (182) won by forfeit to push the lead to 40-9.

Cody, who won 22 matches a year ago while wrestling at Red Bank Catholic High School, has been a force in his short time with the Eagles.

The junior had two pins in two bouts and said things are “just getting started” for him at Middletown South.

“Everything is limited this year with what we can do, but our team is going to do the most it can,” Cody said. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Heavyweight Dante Miranda is another newcomer for the Eagles after transferring from Saint John Vianney High School. Miranda fell to Marlboro’s Christian Steensen, 3-2.

Middletown South won the final three bouts with Zaleski and Zachary Veniskey (106) winning by forfeit and Kaden King (113) scoring a 16-9 decision.

Atterbury, a fifth year coach, said the 2021 squad has been an easy team to coach. He said all of the wrestlers have worked hard to follow the COVID-19 protocols that have been put in place.

The New Jersey high school wrestling season, which traditionally begins in November and runs through March, is being held in March and April this year.

“It’s a pleasure to work with kids who understand the importance of following the guidelines and working as hard as they can within those guidelines. We are concerned about wrestling to the best of our abilities against whoever we face,” the coach said.

Middletown South is scheduled to host Williamstown on March 26.