It was a strong weekend for the area’s top wrestlers. Christian Brothers Academy (CBA), Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, Keansburg High School and Middletown High School North are sending grapplers to the state individual championships at Atlantic City on March 6-8, as wrestlers from each of the four schools won gold medals in the Region 6 tournament held at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River on Feb. 27-28.
Wrestlers from Ocean Township High School, Long Branch High School and St. John Vianney High School also punched tickets to Boardwalk Hall after securing second- and third-place finishes.
CBA, which won a second consecutive team title at the NJSIAA District 22 tournament, saw two of its grapplers win gold in Toms River.
At 113 pounds, junior Sebastian Rivera got his revenge in a championship rematch against Brick Memorial High School’s Gianni Ghione, who beat Rivera one year ago.
Rivera and Ghione were tied at 1-1 through three periods. The Colt got the 3-1 victory in overtime on a takedown. Rivera (34-0) remains undefeated this season and now has two region medals to his credit.
CBA’s fifth-seeded Richie Koehler continued his outstanding freshman season. He defeated top-seeded Kyle Slendorn from Howell High School, 12-0, in the semifinals avenging a regular-season loss to the Rebel. The momentum carried over to the finals, where he beat No. 2 Joey King of Colts Neck High School, 9-6, to win the 106- pound title. Koehler’s record stands at 31-3.
With the two victories, CBA wrestlers have won 13 regional titles in the school’s history.
Rumson-Fair Haven’s Marcus Iwama won his second Region 6 title when he defeated Howell junior Anthony Gagliano in the 132 final, 9-7. The standout senior, who has a total of three regional medals, improved to 33-2 for the year.
Keansburg senior Tyree Sutton became the first region champion in school history. The 195-pound Sutton won the title match against Wall High School’s Matt McKenzie, 1-0, earning his second trip to Atlantic City. The 220-pound title went to Chad Freshnock of Middletown North. The top-seeded junior won his second career Region 6 medal with a decision over CBA’s Will Oxley, who also advanced to this week’s statewide competition by virtue of his runner up placing.
Freshnock gave Middletown North its 13th championship and first since 2004. He’ll take a 22-1 record to Atlantic City.
Ocean Township’s Zack Hertling was another silver-medal recipient. The senior grappler lost to Wall’s Brett Donner at 170 pounds, 6-4, marking just his second loss this season. Hertling was the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the District 22 tournament, where he earned a gold medal, after missing the 2014 postseason due to an injured knee.
Local bronze medalists included Long Branch senior Jason Hernandez, a No. 6 seed. Following a second-place finish at districts, Hernandez got past Howell’s Mikey Sisolak, 7-3, at 113 pounds in the thirdplace consolation round to secure a spot in Atlantic City.
CBA junior Dylan VanSickell defeated Wall’s Nick Wagner, 7-6, for third place at 126 pounds. VanSickell lost for the first time this winter during the District 22 tournament, where he was a runner-up.
Paul Capaldo of Middletown North, a District 22 champion, pinned Shore Regional High School wrestler Alex Johnson, earning the final Atlantic City invitation for the 145-pound class.
St. John Vianney sophomore Micah Clark won the bronze medal in the heavyweight class. He defeated Raritan High School’s Malcolm Daniels, 12-9.
All gold, silver and bronze medalists will hit the mats at the NJSIAA individual wrestling championships beginning March 6 with preliminaries and pre-quarterfinal matches starting at 5 p.m.
On March 7, wrestling begins at 10 a.m. with wrestleback 1, quarterfinals and wrestleback 2 starting at 10 a.m. At 5 p.m. the semifinals will be held with wrestleback rounds 3 and 4 following.
On March 8 starting at 10 a.m., wrestleback 5 is followed by the third- through eighth-place matches. The state finals will begin at 3 p.m.