Cameron, Rebels turn back Mustangs in A North action

Staff Writer

Marlboro High School had the matchup it wanted at 135 pounds as the Mustangs were trying to upset the defending Shore Conference A North Division wrestling champion Howell High School Rebels.

Wrestling at home on Jan. 4, the Mustangs were in a tug of war with the Rebels and trailing 24-23 when they sent 2010 District 21 champion Vinnie Leone to the mat to face one of Howell’s top veterans, Cole Cameron. The Mustangs were trying to regain the momentum with only three bouts left in a key A North match.

Leone and Cameron were scoreless in the fourth minute of the match when Cameron was able to put Leone in a headlock and throw him to the mat in one swift move. The stunning ending to the match — a pin— destroyed any chance the Mustangs had of pulling off the upset, and Howell went on to a 46-23 victory.

“I had to go at my own pace,” Cameron said of his match with Leone. “I’m always looking for it [the headlock]. I felt I could get it. He had his head down and I went for it. I had to do it for the team. It’s more about the team than me.”

Howell coach John Gagliano was just looking for Cameron to win the bout and score some team points, but he was not expecting six points. As he said, though, that is the kind of wrestler Cameron is, a pinner. Of his first seven wins, six were by pin.

“I have confidence in Cole,” Gagliano said. “That [pinning] is his style.”

Marlboro, with a veteran lineup that included returning district champion Leone, district medalists James Stewart (103), Anthony Anzalone (112) and Mitch Seigel, figured to be one of toughest tests for a Howell team that had almost complete turnover from 2010, losing six district winners or medalists.

“We are always reloading,” Cameron said. “We always come back. Winning a sixth straight A North title is our goal.”

The Rebels took a big step toward that goal at Marlboro, taking the Mustangs’ best shot and answering it by scoring the final 25 team points of the match. As the winners of a coin flip at the start of the match, the Mustangs were able to get the matchups they wanted, but even that could not stop the Rebels.

“It was a total team effort by our guys,” Gagliano said. “Marlboro is such a good team. We had our ups and downs, but we had guys step up. That’s why it’s a team effort.”

Howell’s Cody Kirk started the match with a 12-5 decision over Dan Hwang at 160 pounds.

Zach Goldrosen gave the Mustangs a 4-3 lead with his 13-3 major decision over the Rebels’ Frank Lino.

Then things got crazy with five consecutive pins.

Jon Hlava started the run at 189 pounds by pinning the Mustangs’Anthony Kurda in 1:45, and Howell’s Vincent Martino followed by planting Sean Manzi in 2:37 at 215. Seigel answered for the Mustangs by putting Bryan Sherlotti’s shoulders to the mat in 50 seconds at heavyweight.

Howell’s Jimmy Slendon topped that effort by pinningMarlboro’s Rob Gluck in 41 seconds at 103 pounds.

The pinning wasn’t over yet as Stewart pinned Howell’s Ben Esposito in 1:42 in their 112-pound match.

After all of that, Howell was leading the match, 21-16.

Anzalone continued a Marlboro comeback by winning a major decision, 14-3, at 119 pounds over Joe Braiuca to remain undefeated. Tyler Kugler won a 5-3 decision over Matt Lindeman, and Marlboro had a 23-21 lead in the match.

Howell’s Joey Schultz put the Rebels back in front, 24-23, with his 8-3 decision over Jeff Goldrosen at 130 pounds.

Marlboro was expecting to regain the lead when it sent Leone out at 135 pounds, but Cameron had other ideas, and his pin gave Howell a 30-23 lead and control of the match.

Mike Shaughnessy won by forfeit at 140 pounds, and Ashanit Maurice officially ended the match with his 16-6 major decision over Andrew Doukas. Zach Bohn was awarded a forfeit at 152 pounds to complete the night’s scoring.

“Our inexperienced kids are getting match time,” Gagliano said of his ever-improving club.

Howell began the dual meet season with a 41-16 win over a Middletown South team that was expected to challenge them like Marlboro. The Rebels then went out of the conference and lost, 39-22, to Middlesex County power South Brunswick. It was a loss, Gagliano said, that made his young wrestlers realize they had to work harder in the wrestling room.

The Rebels bounced back to win the Roselle Park Tournament on Dec. 28, with Cameron winning at 140 pounds. Esposito, Jimmy Sisolak (125), Schultz, Maurice, Bohm and Hlava all advanced to the finals, securing the team title for the Rebels.

“That was a big win for us. The kids were very excited to win the championship,” Gagliano said.

Howell was back in action on Jan. 5, hosting Point Pleasant Borough in a nondivision meeting of two of the Shore Conference’s longtime powers.

Cameron made it seven pins in eight wins, leading Howell to a 37-15 victory that improved the Rebels’ mark to 3-1. Point Borough (3-1) lost its first dual meet. Hlava also won by pin, and Shaughnessy and Maurice each won by a technical fall.

The Rebels were scheduled to return to A North action on Jan. 11 with a home match against Christian Brothers Academy. They will travel to Middletown North for a rare Friday night match at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14.

The Rebels will close out the A North portion of the schedule by hosting Manalapan on Jan. 19 and traveling to Freehold Township on Jan. 21.