15-0 Suozzo leads O.B. wrestlers to fast start

Giusti, Zafrani each have just one loss


The Old Bridge High School wrestling team is off to a 5-0 start, and six competitors already have 12 or more wins to their credit.

Coach Bryan Garnett’s team has downed J.P. Stevens, Wall, East Brunswick, Edison and South Brunswick, the latter in a tough 28-27 decision. The Knights were slated to meet Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Red Division foe South Plainfield on Wednesday.

In addition, Old Bridge has performed well in tournaments, taking the championship in both the Matawan Icebreaker Invitational and the Elizabeth Minuteman tourney. Garnett took his team to the Hunterdon Central tourney during the holiday break, where several individuals did well. Hunterdon is an individual tourney, but the coach noted that the Knights would have been second overall if team stats counted.

“We’re off to the kind of start we wanted to get,” Garnett said. “Now we just have to maintain our pace and work ethic. So far our guys have done a great job and I’m very proud of them.”

Chris Suozzo has been Old Bridge’s top wrestler. The 171-pound senior is 15-0 and won his weight class at the Elizabeth, Icebreaker

and Minuteman, and he was named outstanding wrestler in the

latter two events.

Eleven of Suozzo’s 15 victories have come by pins. He also leads the team in the category.

John Giusti, another senior,

who competes at 135 pounds, has 14 victories against just one defeat, which came in the finals of the Icebreaker. Dave Zafrani (215) is 13-1 and won his weight class at all three tourneys, and sophomore Nick Orak (189) also has 13 wins and just four defeats.

At 160 pounds, Trevor Haughney, a junior is 12-3; he brought home the title in his weight class at Elizabeth and finished third at Hunterdon Central.

Justin Kitchen (152) is 12-5 with a second place finish in Elizabeth.

At the top of the lineup, Conor Hayes (103) was off to an excellent 8-2 start before suffering a hip injury. The sophomore is expected to return to the lineup shortly. In Hayes’ absence, Eric Tischler has stepped into the 103-pound slot.

Garnett noted that the Knights have received solid contributions throughout the lineup. For example, Phil Sandford (125) is 8-8 overall, but the freshman’s strong showing against Wall put Old Bridge over the top. Joey Dunn (145) moved up to face South Plainfield’s powerful Ryan Smith, and Dunn held Smith to a minimum number of points.

Also against South Plainfield, heavyweight Dave Mundy’s win proved the difference in a one-point match. Mundy wrestled as a freshman but did not compete for the past two years. This winter he won the heavyweight job, but lost his first five matches before getting his first win.

Meanwhile, Andrew Schaeffer (119), who had eight wins a year ago, already has seven successes this time around. Sophomore Jamie Bond (135) is 7-5.

Garnett has employed several other wrestlers including juniors Dave Fitzgerald (112), Nick McIntosh (130) and Larry McDonald (130), and sophomore Sebastian Bea (125).

“Our younger guys have really stepped up when we needed them to, and that’s the mark of a good team,” Garnett said. “Everyone has made significant contributions, and they know it. They work hard to not let each other down.”

Old Bridge will head to Toms River North on Saturday for a quad match that also includes Manchester and Peddie. Next Wednesday the Knights return home to face division rival Perth Amboy.

The coach is also hoping to hold an Alumni Night on Jan. 25 or 26 to honor past Old Bridge wrestlers. Garnett said the Knights are looking for an opponent and that he hopes to have details finalized soon.