Jackson team to beat in talented District tourney

Howell is primary challenger

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

Staff Writer

This weekend’s NJSIAA District 21 Wrestling Tournament will be a fan’s delight.

Starting with the state’s No. 1 team, defending champion Jackson, many of the best wrestlers in the state will begin their quest for Atlantic City and the NJSIAA Championships, the goal of every scholastic grappler, at Manalapan High School.

The District is simply loaded. Six of the 11 teams qualified for the state tournament. Besides the Jags, there is Howell, the Shore Conference A North Division champion, ranked No. 7 in the state. Then there are Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Matawan and St. John Vianney, who all made the state tournament, and Colts Neck, which was a top-10 team in the Shore for much of the season.

Host Manalapan, Marlboro and Holmdel round out the field, along with Jackson Liberty, which is making its debut.

Jackson comes into the tournament as the nine-time defending champion and stronger than ever. Top to bottom they have no holes in the lineup where they can be attacked as they go after a 10th straight crown. Their marquee name is state champion Scott Winston (152), a junior, who has never lost a match in his career.

Kyle Kinchen (112) and Corey Biscaha (130) were state place-winners with Biscaha, like Winston, a returning District champion. Rob Swan (119), Ken Carney (160) and Dan Hopkins (215) will be defending their titles this weekend as well.

In addition, Derrick Russell (103), Kinchen, Sean Byrnes (145) and Dave Concepcion (140) were District runner-ups when the Jags rolled up 291 points.

Having won everything already, don’t expect the Jaguars to be complacent. This is the last team championship available this season. The District championship is a goal the Jaguars set for themselves every year and one, according to head coach Scott Goodale, that they take very seriously.

The Jaguars, though, will have their work cut out for them to top last year’s incredible feat of advancing all 14 of their wrestlers to the Region championships.

John Gagliano’s Rebels will have an added incentive as they look to be the team that dethrones the mighty Jaguars. A skin infection on a couple of the Howell wrestlers forced the Rebels to withdraw from the Central Jersey Group IV tournament, where they had hoped to face Jackson in the final.

When the infections appeared, the school played it safe and shut things down.

“This was hard,” Gagliano said of the decision. “The kids worked so hard all year.”

Howell, which has Joey Langel (112), Cody Fobes (125) and Jason Eckloff (152), who won District titles at lower weights last year, has a loaded lineup itself. Senior Tom Tuminelli (145) won a District title as a sophomore and lost in the finals last year. He’s aiming to get back on top. Another senior, Justin Morello, was a runner-up in ’06 and is anxious to join the list of Rebel wrestlers with District championships. His potential match-up with Biscaha, who beat him 3-2 last year, could be one of the matches of the tournament.

In addition, Tim Bohn (140), Joe Trost (171), Harry Turner (189) and Mike Bonfig (heavyweight) are serious contenders.

Freehold Borough has become a program to be taken seriously under Scott Pressman. The Colonials are becoming a regular in the postseason, and keep moving up in the District standings.

The Colonials have several contenders this weekend, led by Anthony Panzarino (189), a runner-up last year as a junior after winning the District title as a sophomore. Nick Triozzi (125), Tom Post (135), Miguel Arroyo (140) and Ben Ostner (171) are among the other Colonials who have the chance to get through this weekend.

Freehold Township enjoyed a comeback season this year for Jack Withstandley, qualifying for the state tournament. The Patriots have been led all year by Gene Accardi (103), Mike Tobasco (112), Mitch Berger (119), Dustin Craven (160) and Jon Steinbronn (189).

Colts Neck brings to the championships a team of veteran wrestlers who are well tested.

Niko Brown (112), Chris Fraley (125), Jimmy Somma (135) and Chris Panek (160) are the Cougars to watch. Manalapan has tradition and the home crowd going for it as the Braves look to make up for a rare off-season at these championships. Manalapan will be pinning its hopes on Ryan McGilvray (125), Carmin Roth (130) and Billy Dokouslis (heavyweight).

Marlboro, which had been led the past four years by the graduated four-time District champion, Nick Parisi, is counting on Charlie Frankel (103) and Eric Stoffer (135), who were District place-winners in ’06.

Matawan’s Huskies faced a brutal regular season schedule, which helped get them into the state tournament and should be a big help this weekend. Cesare Antista (119), Eddie Terry (125), Nikko Montecillo (112), Andrew DeNardo (140), Conner McDermott (145), Robert Sousa (160) and Stephen Turner (215) are the Huskies veterans.

Kyle Patton (160), Justin Lazarchick (heavyweight), John Stampone (112) and Mike Kevlin (152) are SJV’s prospects.

A young Holmdel squad will be looking to Jeremy Gilstein (112), Matt Ward (152) and Kris Reidy (160).

The tournament starts tomorrow at 6 p.m. with the preliminaries followed at 7 by the quarterfinals.

The semifinals are Saturday at 10 a.m. with the consolations at 1 p.m. and the finals following at approximately 2:30 p.m.

The top three finishers in each of the 14 weight classes will advance to next week’s Region VI tournament in the Rittaco Center at Toms River North High School.