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Marlboro wrestlers strive for individual success during 2021 season

The main message of the 2021 campaign for Marlboro High School’s wrestlers from their coach has been to wrestle for themselves.

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 as the coronavirus pandemic continues in New Jersey.

After a long off-season of waiting for the chance to compete, Mustangs Coach Charlie Frankel has told his wrestlers to take advantage of the opportunities they have to showcase themselves and to improve their skills for what lies ahead of them.

“We are a very young team and we want to show people Marlboro is on the rise,” Frankel said. “Our young guys are training hard and want to get better. They will get better.”

Leading the way this season is senior Zach Vasile (152) and juniors Mike Malucelli (170) and Christian Steensen (285).

Vasile advanced to the 2020 state tournament for the first time after placing second at the NJSIAA Region 5 Tournament. After winning 34 bouts in 2020, Vasile rolled to a 5-0 start in 2021. Malucelli and Steensen also began the season with 5-0 records.

During a dual meet against Shore Conference A North Division rival Middletown South on March 25 in Marlboro, Vasile defeated last year’s District 19 champion Owen Fitzgerald, 4-0, to claim his fifth win.

Malucelli, who won 30 bouts in 2020, had four pins in five matches. Against Middletown South, he pinned the Eagles’ Jack Reiter in the first period.

Frankel believes Vasile and Malucelli can make a run at reaching the state tournament. He said both young men are ready for the challenge of facing the top wrestlers in the Shore Conference and in the state.

“Since Day 1, Mike and Zach have had tough matches and they have been ready for the task,” Frankel said. “They want to train for the Super Region tournament. They are excited for that.”

Steensen won 20 matches in 2020. The junior scored a takedown in the final seconds of his bout against Middletown South’s Dante Miranda and won 3-2.

Besides those three bouts, Marlboro (3-2) lost the other 11 bouts to the Eagles in a 55-12 defeat. The Mustangs’ other loss was to Shore Conference powerhouse Howell.

Marlboro has earned victories over Freehold Township, Long Branch and Manchester. In those dual meets, junior Mike Bruno won all three of his bouts at 132 pounds. Juniors Brandon Bayer (113) and Alex Palagano (126) performed well in those dual meets.

Seniors Gavin McQuade (145) and Anthony DiLiberto (138) are two Super Region hopefuls in the Marlboro lineup.

With many wrestlers expected to return for the 2021-22 campaign, Frankel is using this season to build the foundation of his program and to get his younger athletes as much experience as possible.

Marlboro is scheduled to meet Christian Brothers Academy of Lincroft on March 30.

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