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Rockets second to Ocean in District 22 wrestling

first_imgRaritan H.S. sending nine to Region 6; CBA, eight Raritan High School’s Devin Holmes (bottom) tries to gain the upper hand in his 138- pound match with Middletown South’s Tim Cody (top) at the NJSIAA District 22 Wrestling Tournament held at Red Bank Regional High School on Feb. 17. Holmes won this quarterfinal match and went on to take third place in his weight class. ERIC SUCAR staff Coming off a Group II title at the NJSIAA team tournament finals, the Raritan Rockets placed second behind Ocean Township High School and ahead of Christian BrothersAcademy at the District 22 championships last weekend.Christian Brothers Academy finished with 174.5 points at the district competition, with Ocean taking the top spot with 215 points. Raritan edged CBAfor second place with a team score of 188.5.Red Bank Regional High School in Little Silver hosted the tournament that was held on Feb. 17 and 18.Raritan was one of three District 22 teams that vied for a state championship this season, but was the only squad to bring home a title. The Rockets will send nine grapplers to the Region 6 tournament at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River.The regional championship was scheduled to begin Wednesday, Feb. 22, and will continue on Friday and Saturday. Wrestlers who placed second or third at the district tournament competed on Wednesday, while district champions will first wrestle on Friday.By winning their respective weight classes, Raritan’s Nick Liguori (126) and Jason Bohal (132) earned first-round byes in the Region 6 championships. Matt Lindo (113), Anthony Scarcella (120), Steve Corona (170), Vic Ianello (195) and Pat Toal (Hwt) had second-place performances. After winning third-place consolation matches, Devin Holmes (138) and Nick Rice (220) also qualified for the regional tournament.“We lost to a better team in Ocean,” Raritan head coach Rob Nucci said. “Districts are always an emotional rollercoaster. Some guys will overachieve, and others will lose matches they should have won.”Nucci said that Pat Toal was one of those wrestlers that overachieved this year. The sixth-seeded Toal defeated Long Branch’s Gianni Augustin, the third seed, and Christian Brothers Academy’s Kirby Gardner, the second seed, before falling in the title match to top-seed Kyle Gora of Ocean.Devin Holmes (138) also exceeded expectations when he pinned Long Branch’s Nick George, who already defeated Holmes three times this season, to take third place and advance to the regional tournament. AndMatt Lindo, who won a silver medal at districts, was going for his 100th win on Wednesday.“That’s what it’s going to take in the regions,” Nucci added, referring to the effort displayed by the Rockets last weekend. “At this stage, everybody is good and everybody is in shape. It’s just a matter of who wants it more.” Eight members of the CBA wrestling team were medal winners at districts. Erik Beshada (113), Vin Favia (160), Mike Hoegler (170) and Hayden Hrymack (195) registered first-place finishes, while Christian Casselli (126) and Mike Matlaga (138) finished second and Grant Brown (106) and Kirby Gardner (Hwt) finished third.Ocean rebounded from its loss to South Plainfield in the Group III final and will send 11 wrestlers to the regional competition. The Spartans were perfect in each of their six first-place bouts. Max Rallo (106), Zach Hertling (120), Orion Rovegno (138), Withler Marcelin (145), Colton Bigelow (220) and Kyle Gora (Hwt) earned gold medals. In third place for Ocean were Jordan Eugenis (113), Andrew MacNeille (126), Chris Pappayliou (170), Jacob Bell (182) and Sam Sottile (195).Luke Balina (132), Gavin Pejakovich (145) and Jake George (152) each placed second in their respective weight classes for Long Branch, which lost to Raritan in the Central Jersey Group II semifinals. Long Branch registered a fourth-place finish as a team with 94.5 points.“In my opinion, District 22 is better than District 24 this year. This is the first time I can say that,” said Nucci, who wrestled in District 24 for Toms River North. “There are some good guys who are not advancing to the regions, some who I think are even better than guys in other districts.” BY MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent last_img

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